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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My dog can be sassy at times, but a very good listener. We have trained her to come and to watch us to get her attention. When we go to the dog park, she does great until we start drinking water. When another dog comes around her water, she doesn't like to share and gets aggressive. She's not aggressive until that point. Is there anything I can do about this? I would hate to not bring her there anymore or to not let her drink water. Any suggestions?
Hello, First, know that a dog park is not a good place to actively train. You need a controlled environment in order for things to be safe. The dog park is where your training will be put to the test later. Either take a break from the dog park while working on this in a more controlled environment (what I recommend), or in the very least, take pup outside the dog park regularly and give her water you brought in the parking lot, then return to the park again to avoid the water bowl as much as possible right now. As far as training goes, you will need to desensitize her to other animals being around while she is drinking. What she is doing is a form of resource guarding. With her on a back tie leash so that she can't reach another dog, have another well behave dog walk past her while she is drinking - on leash. Keep the distance far enough away that she can remain relaxed while the dog passes by. Reward her every time her body language stays calm and she ignores the other dog as it passes. Practice at the further distance until she begins to enjoy the other dog passing - in anticipation of a reward, such as a treat. As the association with the other dog becomes more pleasant, very gradually have the dog pass by at a closer and closer distance, decreasing the distance between the dogs only one foot at a time. Do not decrease the distance again until she can not only remain relaxed but also looks forward to the dog passing in anticipation of receiving a reward when they do. Practice this until the other dog can pass by closely finally and she is happy about it. Always keep safety measures like a back tie leash in place to keep both dogs safe. When she can tolerate that initial dog, practice this with a number of other dogs - such as friend's well behaved dogs or through a local training group, with the trainer's dogs or other well behaved dogs there. Next, work on teaching her an Out command - which means leave the area. Practice that command until she can reliably do it around distractions. Out: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Work on desensitizing her to other dogs being around - since inevitably that will be tested around other dogs at some point. Use out to remove her from situations where other dogs are crowding around the bowl and you are just asking for trouble, AND still be intentional about taking breaks from the park to give her her own water outside of the dog park to prevent the issue from reoccurring after she is desensitized, or from getting worse in general. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Hi! when my dog was a puppy he had fun running at the dog park but now everytime we go he starts to growl at every dog that gets near him or me. he likes to run around but he doesnt like when dogs approach him. If a dog gets close to me he barks and growls at him to get away. How can I get him to be nicer to other dogs? and less protective of me?
Hello, good for you for working on socializing Rey at the dog park. I would continue this in a controlled setting. Enroll Rey in obedience classes right away - I think this will help nip the aggression in the bud before it gets out of hand. Teaching Rey that he has to obey you above all (and he'll listen because he'll look to you for leadership) is essential. The instructor can also give you pointers on how to teach him to behave.Take a look at the Introduction Walks Method here: https://wagwalking.com/training/get-along-with-other-dogs. Meet up with friends that have dogs and take the steps shown here to help Rey feel less threatened. You can also look for a walking group in your area that works with dogs that show aggression. If Rey continues to be overly protective after a training course, you may have to call in a trainer to work with Rey at home so that you have the knowledge of why he acts this way and what to do. All the best to you and Rey!
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Just need a little help. He’s learning fast and very sweet but a little rambunctious
Hello Deigo, I recommend working on commands that build self-control, such as the following ones: Place - work up to 1 hour staying on a Place bed at home while you go about your business in that part of the home and pup stays put. You can also give a dog food stuffed chew toy on Place for longer stays, to keep them entertained, but you want pup to stay due to training and obedience and not just because they are leashed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Heel- Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Come - Reel in method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Know that excitement at this age is also very normal. It's important to help pup learn to give space, come over to you, leave other's alone, and be able to calm themselves down, but it is normal to need to learn those things right now. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Hi, I cannot get Charlie into a down position! My biggest challenge with him is as he is growing in confidence he is willing to go further away from me on walks, and I know this is only going to get worse. I’ve tried from a sit on an elevated surface in desperation but only got it once. Please help!! I need to be able to get him to stop running away as you suggest in your very useful post
Hello, Charlie will benefit from obedience training. If you take a class, you will see that all necessary commands are covered, including down. He'll be well socialized and also listen to you which is an important thing as he grows and gets stronger. I can give you several guides to look at to use as training aids and I'd suggest classes, too. There are excellent tips here: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-pitbull-puppy-to-be-obedient. And as well here: https://wagwalking.com/training/obedience-train-a-whippet. Training Charlie to recall is essential and this guide will help: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-come-back. So in a nutshell, you have a very trainable breed and if you work with him for 10-20 minutes a day, you will see great improvement. Always end the training session on a high note and praise Charlie for every success. Happy training and all the best!
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My pup has gone completely backwards in her walking training so I have decided to start from the beginning by working in the house and slowly letting her outside for walk again. However, she is a very high energy dog and she gets a lot of her energy out at the dog park. Recently she has begun pulling very hard and barking from the moment we get to the dog park and i feel like this will delay my attempts in loose leash training. Any tips on how to get her the exercise she needs while making sure she remains calm on a leash would be helpful. I would also like to add that she frequently gets to go outside in my big backyard with my other dog and they play for awhile back there but she is only tired if we take her to the dog park ti run around.
Hello Faith, As an intelligent breed bred to work, I recommend incorporating mentally stimulating activities into her regular physical exercise. For example, check out the Turns method from the article linked below - practicing a lot of turns and speed changes into the heeling practice, which can also help with the heeling training. As well as incorporating a lot of Sit and Down- Stay's or Watch Me's into your heeling practice. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel If she doesn't know how to fetch, I recommend teaching that, but also incorporating training into it. Like having pup wait to be released before going after the ball, bringing it back to you, practicing Sit and Down, ect... https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-to-fetch/ Having regular training sessions where you also teach commands that challenge pup a bit mentally can be rewarding and tiring for smart dogs too. Teach commands pup already knows but work up to the next skill level, or teach new commands and tricks for thirty minutes each day, and have pup perform a command to earn things they want throughout the day also, like Shake before you pet them, Down before you toss a ball, Wait before you feed, ect... https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZzFRKsgVMhGTxffpzgTJlQ https://www.petful.com/behaviors/what-tricks-can-i-train-my-dog/ Other ideas are hiding treats for pup to find - like in your fenced yard as long as it's not been treated with pesticides, or training games like hide and seek, round robin, or giving pup jobs like picking up their toys and putting into a basket or bringing you objects. Come games: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Hi! First off, thank you for existing :)
My dog is not castrated. I should begin with that. We used to go to the dog park every day. Sometimes he would play with other dogs, sometimes with the ball. He's good at sharing too. Sometimes, depending on the dog, he's more confrontative. He would growl and get stiff. I am sometimes able to call him to me and break the tension, but if the other dog keeps on following him, he could snap and try to dominate. I don't see this as dangerous from his side, I think it's dominance and not aggression (like if he wants to rip a piece of the dog off), it's like he wants them to back off, but then they don't so he snaps to tell them to leave him alone. The problem is that it's of course, not a happy moment, for me or the other human. Some people are ok with that, and it may happen that the dogs keep on playing after or not, they continue to hang on their side, but other people have been aggressive towards me or are really protective with their dogs when to me, I only see it as a rumble. It happens also that other dogs get confrontative with him when he enters the park and in that case, I step in and break the tension. If a dog comes at him, I don't get aggressive with their humans, I think these type of things are normal with dogs, but people got used to the fully castrated and forgot some normal dog interaction. (it's my opinion, of course, I can be wrong. Also, I am starting to think that if I live surrounded by these types of people I should compel...). Do you think I could control this behavior without castration?
Hi! He looks like he is full of character! I love it. Yes, at this age, you can most definitely fix this without castration. He is old enough that this is more of a habitual behavior. In all of my time as a trainer I honestly haven't seen a whole lot of hard science based facts supporting the correlation of medical castration and correcting behavior issues. MANY castrated male dogs still have aggression issues. We are not removing their endocrine system that still supplies hormones. We are just removing the puppy making pieces! Many male dogs start to go through what I call the grumpy old man syndrome between 4 and 6 years of age. They are mid life and become like middle aged men! What you can do with him for the next month is to re-create positive associations ONLY. So with this, you can go to a park with treats. Sit within view of other dogs, but not have him directly interacting with other dogs, and give him treats and praise for calm, seated behavior. I know this may seem remedial, but it does wonders. Dogs typically see other dogs and just want to GO! They get amped up and go full speed ahead in their minds. So doing this will teach him indirectly to be a little more calm. Often we correct while they are in the midst of undesirable behavior and that can be chaotic (especially when other owners overreact) so it really just adds fuel to the fire. So if weather allows, try to do this about 2 days a week for the next month. After about 10 minutes of calm, you can let him into play. But only stay for a short time. You will want to leave on a good note every time you do this.
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I take Lemon to the dog park almost everyday. She loves going, and its now her favorite part of the day. She's overall good at the park, but there are a few things we need to work on. If someone pick up their dog to carry them, Lemon will jump on the person and the dog. She will do this continually until the other dog leaves or is let down. She also nips? at the dog while being carried. I try to stop her from doing this, but she will just run around.
Another thing is, if she sense a dog is maybe more submissive than her or shy, she will at first playfully pick on it. The she gets an ear fetish, and will try to bite/pull the dog's ear and chase it. I also try to stop her, but she continues to round around away from me.
She also finds a random ball at the park and starts to tear it up. She doesn't tear anything up at home. And then that ball becomes her possession, and will get defensive if another dog comes up to her.
Hello Jackie, I recommend recruiting some friends to practice training with you in a private fenced area where you all can control the setting and have pup's leashed part of the time to be able to enforce commands. Don't do this at the dog park since leashing a dog when others aren't can be dangerous. I recommend working on the following commands. Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Come - Reel in method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Leash method for jumping: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump I would use the Leave It and Out commands when pup is pestering another dog, bothering their ear, or fixating on a ball. Practice these scenarios with friends and their dogs. Also, practice the Leash method with a friend picking up their dog while yours is on leash so you can enforce pup stopping the behavior. These things need to be practiced often, and once pup understands what the commands mean well with just you guys, then they need to also be practiced a lot around other dogs like your friends' dogs in a private setting. While teaching these things pup needs to not be doing the unwanted behaviors elsewhere, which means taking a break from the dog park for a while while having your own training sessions instead. If you don't have others you can practice with, then I recommend hiring a training group that has access to other well mannered dogs, like the trainer's dogs and working with them on the behaviors around their dogs. If you don't have a private fenced area to practice in, and even if you do, you can purchase a 20-30 foot training leash (not a retractable leash, but long training leash) and keep part of it coiled up, giving pup just the length you need to practice various things. When pup is going to be further away from you on the long leash, have pup on a padded back clip harness instead of collar for neck safety. I would also put away balls you see lying around at the park if the owner of the ball isn't using it. Most dog parks ban toys in the park because they tend to lead to fights for many dogs who have ball obsessions. If your park has that rule, you can put the balls in a location where your dog won't bother them. I know that won't stop the issue entirely because many people do bring them in despite the rule, but between Leave It work and removing those you can, it should make monitoring that a bit easier. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Nyla is very good a training in controlled environments, and mostly well behaved at the dog park. However, when another dog wants to be done playing, Nyla doesn't know how to read that signal and lay off while they rest. The result is that sometimes she continues to antagonize them until they snap and they need to be separated. How can we "break" her drive to play, and get her obedience to work when in a highly stimulated environment like a dog park OR to teach her to read signals from other dogs that they need a break from playing.
Hello Sam, In this situation you will need to intervene and call pup off the other dog using obedience you have taught. I recommend teaching an Out command and Come command. Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Come: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-to-come-when-called/ Once pup has learned those commands, practice them often using a long training leash, 15'-30' long and a padded back clip harness. Gradually work up to more and more distracting locations. You can even practice pup's recall at places where the are other dogs that can't get to your dog, like regular parks or outside a dog park (don't go inside the dog park area though since having pup on leash in there isn't safe and could lead to fights). Once pup is really good at Come and Out on the long leash, recruit a friend and their friendly dog. Have the dogs play in a controlled, fenced area without other dogs around, while they are wearing a back lcip harness and drag leash. Periodically call the dogs away from each other when they are entangled wrestling. Have each other call their dog from different areas of the yard so the dogs go in different directions when they disengage. Use the drag leash to carefully and quickly reel pups in to each of you if they don't obey when you call. Once your dog gest to you (because they obeyed or because you reeled them in with the leash), have pup obey a couple commands like Sit or Down, and gives high value treats - this is why the dogs are being called to separate locations. You don't want competing for the same food while aroused from playing). After both dogs are focused on their people and calm from the obedience practice, allow the more timid of the two dogs to go first, tell them "Go Play" and releasing them. If they still want to play, let the second dog go also, telling the to "Go Play" as well. Practice this for 10-30 minutes a training session, often, until your dog will obey Out and Come consistently while in the middle of playing without having to be reeled in. While doing all of this, I would avoid going to the dog park where pup could ignore your command and that would undermined your training efforts. Once pup is very good at obeying while aroused, then you can use the new commands in real life to help pup manage their behavior at the park. Learn how to read the body language of other dogs if you do not already, so you can easily spot when the dogs are getting too aroused or one dog wants to stop and isn't being allowed to, and you can intervene before things get tense, moving your dog to another part of the park and letting them calm back down again, before playing with a new dog while that one rests. Be aware that some dogs need the play to end for the day when they get to that point because their ability to control themselves will decrease the more tired they get, even though they seem to be getting wound up instead of tires. For those dogs, it's best to end the play for that part of the day, and if you find they still need exercise, use some structured obedience practice to wear them out mentally too, which can also get their minds back into a calm state before going home. Do obedience practice outside of the dog park fence though, for safety reasons. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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