We’re finally out of the doldrums of winter: it’s time to head to the park! Don’t leave your faithful canine behind, staring out at the nice weather all by themselves. There are tons of fenced in parks that allow you to let your hound off the leash so they can meet other dogs and wear themselves out - sniffing, fetching, and playing to their heart’s content. Here are a few things you should do before you hit the off leash park.
1. Socialize your dog beforehand
Off leash dog parks can be very overwhelming: lots of people, lots of dogs, and lots of smells can make for a sensory overload. This effect is even more noticeable in younger dogs and dogs that are not well trained. Make sure that your canine companion has some basic training in order (especially an emergency command that will get them at your side immediately) and have experience dealing with dogs and people in unfamiliar settings. Keep them on the leash at first, and let them stay close by as they sniff other dogs and get a sense of the area. When they seem ready, let them off and praise them as they behave themselves. In no time, they will hardly even remember you’re there if they don’t need to.
2. Groom and visit the vet
Off leash parks mean a lot of unfamiliar territory, and you cannot always count on everyone else to take care of their dogs like you take care of yours. Visit the vet beforehand, and make sure vaccinations, as well as flea and tick medications, are up to date. Also, get your dog’s teeth cleaned and nails clipped; play with other dogs can get ugly if a wayward jump or nip gets someone hurt. Younger dogs tend to play a little rougher, and a sharp nail can cause accidental problems and stress.
3. Stay on top of things and be prepared
It can be tempting to let your dog off the leash and wander off on your own, but even the best behaved dogs can get into trouble in an off leash park. Make sure your dog is always in proximity: you need to be able to call to them and get them quickly by your side, or move in to help them if something happens. Make sure to find the closest emergency clinic near the off leash park, and program their number as well as your primary veterinarian into your phone. We hate to even imagine it, but a bit of preparation goes a long way to preventing serious problems.
The spring is a great time to enjoy the off leash park, and you can set your dog up for success by following this advice. Make sure to keep a stain and odor remover like Bio-nihilator on hand for before and after the visit to the park: all that excitement can sometimes lead to accidents. Clean up easy and get ready for the next visit.