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Introducing Your Puppy to the Dog Park

Diet & Exercise

Introducing Your Puppy to the Dog Park

August 24, 2021

Bringing your puppy to the dog park is a great way to socialize them and can be a great socializing experience for you, too! You can meet other dog owners in your area to arrange puppy play dates and allow your puppy to meet dogs of all different sizes and ages. Before you head out the door on your first visit, however, it’s important to make sure that you and your dog are ready for the new experience. 


Make Sure Your Dog is Exercised



Puppies are full of energy! If your dog hasn’t been walked or played with much when go to the dog park, your pup is more likely to be over-excited and cause problems at the dog park. It’s a good idea to squeeze in a little play time before you head out or just go for a quick walk so your dog will be less likely to become over-stimulated. If your pup is having problems with anxiety and is too wound up even after a calm-down walk, you may also want to consider supplementing with something like those tasty Ready Pet Go! Zen Chews, which can keep your pup calm during your first time at the park together. 


Make Sure Your Dog is Vaccinated and Healthy

 


Head to the vet before you head to the dog park! It’s important that your dog is healthy and up to date on vaccinations before you go for a romp in the park. Unvaccinated puppies are prone to catching otherwise preventable illnesses like rabies, kennel cough and parvo. These can seriously harm your new puppy! Talk with your vet about whether your puppy is ready to socialize with other dogs at the park, and if they recommend any additional vaccinations. If your puppy is under four months old and has not been fully vaccinated, you should hold off on the dog park for just a little longer. Make sure to have your puppy heartworm tested and on heartworm preventative, along with flea and tick preventative so you will not catch or spread these around at the dog park.


Do your research


 

Look up your local dog parks and their rules. Make sure to read reviews from other pet parents, too! This will show you what you can expect during your first visit with your pooch. It’s a good idea to make a solo trip to the park before bringing your pup with you, just to get a feel for what you can expect when you do go together for the first time. This will also give you an opportunity to get familiar with the other locals who bring their dogs there as well. Ask them about their experiences to get some first-hand knowledge of how this park works!

Some dog parks require that all dogs have an off-leash permit to play. This permit will show other owners that your dog has all required vaccinations and that you are a responsible pet parent with the safety of your dog and the public in mind.


Introduce Your Dog Slowly



Dog parks tend to be busiest on weekends, holidays and evenings. If possible, it’s a good idea to make sure your dog goes during a less busy time to avoid your pup from becoming overwhelmed by the amount of activity and new environment. Keep your first visit short, ideally around 15 minutes and progressively increase to longer playtime as your pup gets older.

 

Additionally, make sure you know your dog will enjoy the experience by arranging solo or group play dates before visiting the dog park. This will help make sure that your pup is used to other dogs and not afraid of or reactive towards them.

 

Build Up the Basics



Your dog should know basic commands like come, stay, sit and down before your first visit to the dog park. It’s especially important that your pup knows how to do follow commands even when off-leash. This can help you avoid scuffles with other dogs and make sure that you still have some control over your pooch when unleashed.

  

Prepare for the Worst-Case Scenario



All social situations between dogs have the unfortunate potential to turn into dog fights. This is especially important for puppies, since it may take some time for your pup to catch on to the social rules that adult dogs are more familiar with. Before you introduce your dog to the dog park, it’s important that you know how to prevent a dog fight and safely intervene if a fight does break out.


Join the Neighborhood Conversation




The popular Nextdoor app lets you keep a profile and keep tabs on many important discussions within your immediate community, and that includes important dog stuff like this topic. We can think of at least one neighborhood situation right now where a woman with a pit mix is literally taunting other dog owners after repeated cases of her dog exhibiting aggressive behavior and hurting dogs and even their owners. The police got involved to an extent but it’s been helpful for those dog owners to know where that issue stands. You should be the expert on your local buzz regarding the dog parks and the people who go there, so you can protect your pup and know what’s up. “Oops” is not an option when it comes to your dog being safe.

Once your dog is ready and the dog park looks good, this will be a great environment for both of you to meet new friends! Remember to follow their rules and make sure that your puppy’s first experiences are short, safe and most importantly, fun!

  


OATMEAL SHAMPOO

Our Oatmeal Shampoo for dogs is perfect whether you have an allergic pup with dry and itchy skin or just want an extra-gentle bath option. Formulated with natural ingredients that boost skin & coat health and smell amazing!

Oatmeal Shampoo

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