Our friend Christina Rado was kind enough to contribute her thoughts on dog parks and lend a few useful tips as well.
Living in a metropolitan area has its ups and downs.¬† One downside may be that your particular living situation does not involve a yard for your favorite canine friend.¬† If you want to avoid frustrated pups going to town on your favorite pair of shoes, and you‚Äôre not much of a runner, here‚Äôs your solution: take your dog to the dog park!
Before I owned a dog, I was unaware of the phenomenon known as the dog park.¬† It‚Äôs actually a pretty simple phenomenon – imagine a huge, fenced-in field for dogs to let loose and run their heads off.¬† It gives your dog a chance to get its exercise and to socialize with other dogs as well ‚Äì a two in one deal!¬† And you don‚Äôt even have to break a sweat.
Here are a few tips for first-time visitors.¬† Find out if your local dog park requires a membership.¬† Certain cities are strict on ensuring that all dogs that access the park have shots and/or are ‚Äúfixed.‚Äù Some dog parks have membership fees for upkeep, while others are completely free and funded by the city or county.
Next, when you go to the park, scan for allies.¬† Allies at the dog park are nice people with nice dogs.¬† If you go at the same time each day, you‚Äôll get to know the regulars and their dogs.¬† A good way to strike up conversation is, ‚ÄúWhat kind of dog is that?‚Äù or ‚ÄúHow old is he?‚Äù People love to talk about their dogs.¬† You will learn the dogs‚Äô names well before you‚Äôll learn their owners‚Äô.
Stay close to your dog until it figures out how to interact with the other pups in the park, especially if it has not had experience with other dogs yet.¬† You want to avoid the dog park bullies, but you especially want to avoid your dog becoming one.¬† Teach your dog how to play nice if it seems to have trouble.
Be sure to observe the rules and norms of your local dog park.¬† Bags are often provided to pick up after your dog‚Äôs business.¬† Be sure you‚Äôre not ‚ÄúThat Guy‚Äù who ignores his dog‚Äôs mess and leaves an unpleasant surprise for another park visitor.¬† Leave your dog treats and French fries in the car, or you‚Äôll have a lot of eager friends at the park that won‚Äôt leave you alone.¬† However, toys such as tennis balls and Frisbees can be a big hit with your pooch and others, so bring ‚Äòem!
The dog park really is the greatest thing since sliced bread.¬† Have fun and go often!¬† Your dog will be happy – and he‚Äôll zonk out when he gets home.¬† Now doesn‚Äôt that make you happy?