Dog parks are a place for your dog to have fun and play with other four-leggers. But it doesn't always work out that way. For example, bigger dogs can be too rough with smaller dogs, favorite balls get snatched, gangs of dogs pick on loners...the list goes on. Here's the rub. It doesn't have to be that way.
If every dog owner took responsibility for their own dog's actions then everyone could enjoy the park in peace. This includes the over friendly dog who jumps up to say 'Hello' but knocks a toddler or senior citizen over in the process. Remember, if your dog is out of control and injuries a third party, then you may be liable for their medical bills. And that's without the dog that starts a fight with another where both dogs need veterinary treatment, or the dog that runs off and exits the park straight into the path of an oncoming vehicle.
Enjoying the dog park only works when owners act responsibly and take charge of their dog. Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean keeping the dog on the leash, because learning a few basic commands gives you the ability to recall the dog or divert their attention from trouble.
Basic park etiquette means your dog is under control even when off the leash and you can get their attention to interrupt undesirable behavior. This means practicing basic commands at home until the dog readily responds and then expanding that training in the face of distractions.
If you are uncertain about your dog's ability to respond, then invest in a longline. This gives the dog a sense of freedom but should he not obey, you still have control. A longline is much better than an extending lead because the latter teaches the dog that he only has to pull to get more leash.
Your secret weapon when in the dog park is extra tasty treats. By all means, train your dog with rewards at home, but step up the ante when in public. When the dog realizes you have specially tasty sausages it will peak his interest and make him that bit more likely to respond in the face of distractions.
A word of caution, though. If your dog does misbehave in the park, don't punish him when he eventually does return. You only want him to link good things with returning to your side, and if he believes a recall ends in a smack, it will make him less willing to obey next time.
Start training in a place with few distractions such as your yard. As the dog gets into the swing of things, practice training at different times and in different places. You can start training with a puppy from 8 weeks onwards, just don't expect too much and always make things fun.
Take any opportunity to train the dog. This means taking advantage of those time pup happens to amble toward you. By slapping your thigh and saying "Come" in an excited voice, it's a super-easy way to reinforce what you're trying to teach.
You will need:
A belt bag for the treats, so a reward is always close to hand
Good behavior at the dog park is a matter of being able to control the dog by teaching simple commands such as "Come", "Look", and "Down".
so every time we go to the dog park our dog Luna get super excited and starts barking and whining until we get there. When we are there she barks at other dogs on the other side and if someone with or without a dog she'll run to the end of the fence or where someone is and barks till they are gone. so what can we do to help her understand that no one is a threat.
Hello Emilia, Right now she is getting highly aroused - starting when you leave to go to the dog park and continuing while there. Her overall attitude and arousal level needs to be addressed. I suggest taking her to the area right OUTSIDE the dog park (not going in to the fenced park) and practicing the heeling exercises from the videos linked below. You want to work on her overall respect for you, impulse control, and attitude/arousal while in that environment without giving her the thing that is causing the arousal - which is the lack of structure and boundaries combined with highly exciting/arousing interactions with the other dogs. Her focus needs to become more on you and less on the other dogs while there. (Don't take her into the dog park at any point on leash because that can lead to a fight - practice outside the park where she can see the other dogs until she can focus on you and be calm in that environment - expect this to take lots of trips to the park to practice. Plan on doing this instead of visiting the dog park to play for a while - the structured, focused activity will wear her out also). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcwvUOf5oOg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo As far as the car ride, changing what happens while at the park for a while - training vs rough play, will help some with her overall attitude but also work on her being calm and respectful leading up to the park. When you leash her up, require her to obey a few commands (like Sit, Down, Stand, Sit) first to bring her focus in and energy down. When you exit through the door, practice the thresholds protocol from the video linked below. While riding in the car, have someone work on Down with her while in the car - she should not be walking around the car, sticking her face out the window, or looking around out the windows - Down is safer, calmer, and more respectful. That position and less visuals will help her stay calmer. You can practice Down stay when the car is stationary ahead of time also. Practice a Down stay in the car if you have another person who can do that while you drive (the driver shouldn't be worrying about anything but driving). If you don't have another person or even if you do, you can also purchase a dog car harness and connect it so that pup has to ride in the down or seated position calmly. Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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