Robin and I were in Coral Springs on Friday finishing up a Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® installation for a new client and his Australian Shepherd named Hawkeye. Hawkeye caught on quite quickly and after only about ten minutes of practice, really didn’t want to approach the boundary of the yard. We told our client to continue to follow our instructions for another week or so and he should never get a call from a neighbor saying “Hawkeye is in my back yard!”. Needless to say, he was very grateful for our services. Knowing that we were also behavioral dog trainers, he wondered if we could help with one more problem. Even though he had a nice yard, he also had friends that took their dogs to the local dog park. He wanted to take Hawkeye to the dog park, but Hawkeye had never gone. He wanted to make sure that he introduced his Australian Shepherd properly so that he could have a good time with his friends while Hawkeye had a good time with the other doggies.
First of all, I told my client that I have never been a great fan of dog parks. This is because they are public places and anyone has the right to bring their dogs to the park whenever they want. Since the dogs are all off leash, it is a difficult job to make sure that there aren’t fights or other issues between strange dogs (or people).
All dogs just want to be safe and need a strong leader that will keep them safe. The consistency in our dog containment training process and our emphasis on focusing Hawkeye on our client’s dominance and consistency helps establish our client as Hawkeye’s protector. This is also true when they are away from the home. Our client must also be in charge of the situation 100% of the time. He must always provide protection for Hawkeye. When they are in a dog park with strange people and strange dogs; that needed level or protection may falter.
I continued to explain that it was possible to take Hawkeye to the dog park with his friends and their dogs if he first established leadership and consistency at the park. In order to accomplish this, he needed to socialize Hawkeye with the dog park environment and then slowly introduce him to the dogs in the park. Here is what I suggested:
- Since his friends were pretty open to the times they wanted to take their dogs, I suggested that he take charge and set the times. In order to do this, he needed to determine the times where it was the easiest to provide a consistent and appropriate level of safety.
- I told my client to visit the park for the next ten days at different times. Determine when the least number of dogs were normally present and the least amount of external activity was taking place.
- Watch the people and dogs in the park to see if the people could easily control their dogs and that the dogs were not aggressively jumping and nipping the other dogs.
- Observe the sizes and ages of the dogs at the different times in the park.
- Come up with a list of times where it was relatively quiet and there was a minimum of other dogs. Make sure that the same people and dogs normally show up at those times. Also, the dogs “should show proper behavior” and should be relatively the same size and age as Hawkeye.
- Now, take Hawkeye to the dog park. Keep him on a leash and DO NOT GO INSIDE. Stay away from the dog park fence and allow Hawkeye to watch.
- Walk Hawkeye about 30 to 50 feet from the perimeter fence, sitting at times and letting him sniff.
- If Hawkeye becomes agitated or over-adrenalized, move farther away. Continue the process and slowly move closer as Hawkeye calms down.
- After several visits, walk Hawkeye around the outside of the fence, but right up to the edge. If other dogs come up, allow them to sniff through the fence for a few seconds and then move on.
- Repeat the above step until Hawkeye shows no negative reaction with the other dogs through the fence.
- Repeat the above step for a few visits.
- Now, take Hawkeye in the dog park. As soon as he enters, drop the leash and allow Hawkeye to “be free”. If any negative interaction takes place with another dog, step on the leash and direct him away from the inappropriate event.
- He should always “watch out” for any strange dog or person. Our experience with strange people and dogs in dog parks is simply to leave for the day if an inappropriate event takes place.
I told him to give this information to his friends in the event they need to “socialize their dogs” for the dog park. If they wanted to, they could perform the above exercise together.
The most important guidance that I could provide my client about preparing Hawkeye for the dog park was to take it slow and always focus on Hawkeye’s safety. Never move from one step to the next until he was sure that Hawkeye was calm, relaxed, and giving him focus. Finally, if anything didn’t feel right, just leave; the dog park will always be there tomorrow.
It is our constant job to keep our dogs safe. A dog park poses many variables that we need to vigilantly manage in order to provide our dog with that sense of safety and security. Robin and I are always here to answer any question you may have about dog training or underground dog fence training. Please go to Dog Fence Training Help Coral Springs South Florida or call us at (954) 472-4724. We have many more tips and instructions about dog training and out of sight dog fences at Best Out of Sight Dog Fence Trainers Coral Springs South Florida. Robin and I are honored to have trained 3,500 dogs and their families in Coral Springs and the rest of South Florida. We have delivered great behavioral dog training and underground dog fence training. If you have a dog that only has behavioral or obedience issues, we have behavioral and obedience dog training programs. Check out our Obedience and Behavior Dog Training site at Home Dog Training Coral Springs South Florida.