Dog-park season is in full swing, and (lucky you!) the Twin Cities has plenty of places for Milo to mingle with other be-pawed pals, including the newest dog rec spot on the block, opening today: Minneapolis’s Lyndale Farmstead Off-Leash Recreation Area.
A trip to the dog park is a great way for you and your pooch to get out, exercise, and socialize, but there are rules to live by when unleashing your pet in public. Read on for our top tips for dog-park success.
Know thy dog. While pooches who love canine company thrive in a packed park setting, romping with other pups can be challenging — even terrifying — for under-socialized, skittish, or aggressive dogs. Not sure how your dog’ll do? Consult a trainer before your maiden voyage.
Prescreen your park. Scope out a new place sans pup to familiarize yourself with parking, layout, rules, and atmosphere. Different dog parks (and days/times) have varying energy levels — from low-key to lively.
Play by the rules. Most dog parks have posted guidelines about behavior, the number of dogs permitted per handler, and more. And pay attention to city-specific rules. Minneapolis, for example, requires proper licensing (get yours through SidewalkDog.com and get rewarded!) and an off-leash dog park permit.
Right: Some dogs are destined for dog-park success. (Photo: Sarah Beth Photography)
Get healthy. If your pooch is under the weather, take a rain check. Young puppies without all their inoculations should also steer clear. Even if your dog doesn’t appear sick, it’s always a good idea to get a clean bill of health before heading to the park for the first time.
Pack wisely. Some parks supply pooper-scoopers and receptacles, many don’t. BYOB(aggies) and pick up after your pet as soon as she’s done takin‘ care of business. And don’t forget a water bowl and (giant) bottle of fresh H2O.
Leave the (human) kiddos home. It’s hard enough to keep a close eye on your dog during a park play session. Add a rambunctious 2-year-old, and your attention is sure to be divided. Good parent pointer: While your pooch might be great with your wee one, don’t assume every pup at the park will be.
Watch (your) dog. As tempting as it may be to just let Rover run free, your pup is your primary responsibility at the park. Keep your eyes off your iPad and on your pooch for his safety and enjoyment, and that of your fellow parkgoers.
Left: A tired dog is ready to head for the hills. (Photo: Sarah Beth Photography)
Mind your manners. (And yes, we mean yours.) You want your dog to be on his best behavior, but people can cause problems, too. Refrain from smoking or eating, resist treating dogs without their human’s permission, and move those TMI phone calls to a more private locale.
And mind your beeswax. In the same vein, nobody likes a know-it-all. You might be best buds with Cesar Millan, but in most cases, keep your ideas on doggy discipline to yourself. Got a safety sitch on your hands? Channel your inner diplomat.
Know when to say goodbye. If your pooch is getting overexcited, aggressive, or overwhelmed and you can’t easily resolve the sitch, leash up and leave. Similarly, a too-pooped pup can become agitated, so consider it a cue to go when your pooch has reached dog-tired status.
At top: Not every pooch is eager to be the belle of the ball. (Photo: Sarah Beth Photography)