3 Tips For Taking Your New Rescue Pup To The Dog Park
Bringing your new furry friend home from the shelter is the first step in welcoming a new member of the family. The first few weeks are a whirlwind of walks, snuggles, and the realization that your pup might not be housebroken just yet. Sooner or later, you're going to want to take your pup to the dog park to get some exercise and start socializing. Here's how to prepare to make sure your pooch is ready.
1. Practice Letting Your Dog Off Leash At Home
A fenced in yard is a great place to test if your dog can handle being off leash. By now you've taught your dog to respond to a few basic commands. "Stay", "come", and "no" are critical commands for your first trip to the dog park. Let your pup off leash and see how responsive he is when distracted. Younger dogs will likely sprint around for a few moments before being receptive to commands. You may want to bring a whistle or treats for positive reinforcement. If your dog ignores commands at first, don't get discouraged. It may take a few tries before your pup is ready to learn. You want to be confident that if you give a command, your dog's ears will perk up.
2. Try Socializing While On Leash
Another way to gauge whether your pup is ready for the park is giving him a chance to socialize while on a leash. This could be on a jog or just walking around the neighborhood. Odds are if you walk around for a few minutes you'll come across several other dog walkers. Watch how your pooch interacts with other dogs. Is he friendly and receptive? Does he let other dogs approach without getting tense or aggressive? Those are good signs that your dog will be able to interact with other dogs off leash. Try getting in the habit of walking your dog on the same route at the same time each day. Seeing the same dogs over and over will get yours comfortable with repeated interactions. Once you're sure that your dog is ready, it's time to head to the dog park!
3. Bring Treats & Toys To Reward Good Behavior
It's finally the big day! You and your pup hop in the car and head off to the dog park. Success! Your pup is curious but gets along with all of the other dogs. Now it's time to reinforce all of that good behavior. When your dog promptly responds to commands, throw him a tasty treat. Some dog vitamins or dog supplements are just as tasty and give your dog the nutrients he needs. You can also bring a tennis ball or any other toy (that will likely be shared by the other dogs). You want to make sure that your dog picks up the proper behaviors when he's off leash.
Getting your dog ready for the park comes down to two things: practice and reinforcement. You need to get your pup comfortable with being outside and off leash before heading to the dark park. You also need to reinforce good behavior with healthy treats for dogs, toys, or maybe just a good scratch behind the ears. A dog park is a great way to spend a Saturday morning and with these tips, your pup will be ready in no time.
- Dana S