Hey, so you have booked an hour for your dog to have a run about at a dog park. Wonderful – so what does that mean?
Over the past few years, there has been an explosion of doggy parks open for exclusive use by owners and their dogs. For those of us with a reactive dog, it is perfect as they can enjoy all the fun of sniffing and marking territory in an area where other dogs have been, without the fear of being pounced on by another dog or even worse being chased. It is wonderful for the dogs who won’t come back or the newly rescued dog that needs to meet and greet another family dog but off site, away from the home.
We are so lucky to have so many in the local area along the south coast and many of these offer lots of activities for the dogs to enjoy. At some of these sites, there are jumps and logs to climb on, seesaws and other agility equipment and then some of them have got a sand pit, or even a paddling pool. I honestly think that we get as much fun with these items as our dogs. I take my two dogs to several locations, depending on where I am working, and I am forever grateful that I can use these sites to help owners with my personal training programme. Seeing the owner relax as they see their dog run off lead for the first time, is extremely rewarding.
What are the Five most popular things you can do with your dog at the secure dog field?
1. Play with them – I mean really play. If you are using a ball, don’t throw it ahead and get them to chase – that is buying trouble for the future. Instead, drop it behind you or in the long grass. If they don’t find it, you will have to, so be sure to let them see where it goes. Get them to bring it back and repeat.
2. Teach them to come back when called – make it fun and get your hands on them everytime they return. You can use some yummy treats or their favourite toy, but when they return, play again and again. Remember this is their fun time.
3. Show them how to weave in and out of the weave poles or jump the low poles. Unless you teach them how to do it properly and carefully, they wont know, so use their toy or treats and guide them through the obstacles. Some dogs will do it more willingly than others, but take it slowly and have fun.
4. Play hide and seek – if there is more than one of you, go and hide a few feet away and call your dog. Take their toy and when they find you, play with them and let them have their toy. This is how we teach the dogs to become search dogs – they are looking for their toy.
5. Lay a track and get your dog to follow it. Carefully shuffle your feet across the grass in a line, and then watch as your dog sniffs out your path. You could also hide treats or their toy in the wooded area or maybe near the picnic bench – where else can you think of?
Although these venues are suitable for lead free walks, why not also do a little lead walking too. It will help you retain control of your dog whilst they enjoy their visit. If you have been following my https://www.thewalkaboutway.co.uk/how-to-enjoy-a-walk - then you know that I encourage you to plan your route around a site. As you move from one point to another, allow your dog the freedom to enjoy the venue. Then call them back to you and play with them – making yourself the focus of your dog’s attention. It is not enough to just use a ball thrower and keep your dog chasing after it. Apart from the fact that it’s not good for your dog to become that obsessed with balls and chasing, it’s also not good for them to be constantly twisting and turning and maybe causing strain or tears on the muscles and ligaments. Did you know that a dog that chases balls, will also be keen on chasing cars, squirrels, cats or even bikes and joggers? Not good eh?
So next time you take your dog to the dog park, make a plan to enjoy it with them. Of course, you can take your coffee and relax, that is important. But why not also use the time to do some fun things with them too. Teach them to weave around the poles. Look at the jumps and if they are low enough for your dog, then a gentle jump won’t harm them. You can even look at some of the other obstacles and see if they will do them with you. Rather than chucking the ball, toss it behind you and send them back to find it. See if you can get them to watch you as get them to lie down or sit at a distance. Go and have fun, take lots of pictures, and share them with us and if you want some more ideas or need some personal help, then get in touch at email@example.com. At our Academy, I teach people to become dog trainers, but love to teach dog owners too, so don’t hesitate to ask for help.