All images provided were taken by Kimberly Gauthier, Keep the Tail Wagging
We started taking our dogs to the Strawberry Fields dog park as soon as our veterinarian gave the okay, because we wanted to socialize our dogs. Rodrigo loved the first visit; it took Sydney a little longer to warm up to the idea of other dogs sniffing her (back there). The dog park has been a fantastic place to socialize our dogs while providing them some much needed play and excise time.
The dog park is a great place to allow dogs to be dogs.
What I didn’t expect was all that I’ve learned by going to the dog park regularly. I received a crash course in dog behavior, learning the different growls, knowing the signs of aggression, and knowing how to keep an eye on two dogs in a sea a dogs. And I was able to connect with other local dog owners.
Socialize our Dogs
You don’t always have to go to a dog park for socialization. This is the choice we made for our dogs. You can also start socializing your dog by…
- Planning play dates with friends; invite your friends and their dogs over and watch them go wild.
- Invite friends over to interact with the dogs; this is also a great way to start teaching your dog how to behave with guests.
- Go on a walk in an area where you’re going to cross paths with people and their pooches, like a park or a biking trail.
Rodrigo was only 9 weeks old when I took this picture, too young for the dog park, but old enough to play with a friend’s 10 week old Mastiff sweetie. We learned right away that Rodrigo was great with other dogs.
Our dogs are Cattle Dog mix, a herding breed. They are full of energy and love to play fetch in the yard. But nothing compares to an hour or so at the dog park. The humans stand around and watch dogs running around 5 acres, excited about the hours of peace we’ll receive as they sleep the afternoon away at home.
If your dog is suffering from arthritis or another joint condition, speak to your veterinarian about your options. One of our dogs developed arthritis at a young age, today it’s hard to believe that he had trouble walking less than 6 months ago.
Learn About Dog Behavior
What I love about taking our dogs to the dog park is that they are allowed to be dogs. They get to jump, growl, roll around, bark, and run around like little maniacs. Our dogs are expected to be respectful and quiet in the house, but at the dog park they can go nuts.
The dog park visits has been an opportunity for me to learn how dogs interact with one another. I no longer worry when I hear growling or barking. I can spot the signs of aggression in other dogs.
This is an older Rodrigo who was now a regular at the dog park.
Create a Dog Park Tribe (or Club)
The friends I’ve made are another benefit of going to the dog park regularly. We’re a big group of happy humans with boistourous dogs and we make plans daily to go to the dog park. Not all of us attend everyday, but it’s nice to know that when we take our dogs to the park, we’ll be meeting with friends.
Another benefit to joining a dog park tribe is that we get to know each others dogs really well; I don’t worry about our dogs being bullied or hurt, because they’re playing with dogs that are well trained and fun.
If you have a dog park in your area, I encourage you to go as soon as your dog is ready. If you’re not 100% sure when you get there, then walk around the perimeter, keeping a fence between your dog and the dogs in the park. This allows them to sniff in comfort. If you’re dog is ready to go, then what are you waiting for? Load your dog up and go make some friends; the two legged and the four legged kind.
Kimberly Gauthier is the author of the blog Keep the Tail Wagging and the fur mom of two litter-mate puppies, Rodrigo and Sydney.