As the warmer Spring weather approaches and you begin to venture out of the Winter hibernation, it’s the perfect time to get your dog active again by exploring the parks around Schaumburg and the Chicagoland area. Dog parks offer dogs the chance to socialize, get lots of exercise, and explore all the scents and surroundings of a constantly changing environment. However, without the right precautions, dog parks can also be dangerous places for you and for your dog. Here are a few of our best tips for keeping your precious pup safe during your next visits to the dog park.

Avoid the Entrance/Exits

Often your first sight when walking into a dog park is a crowd of people standing around the entry. Unfortunately, the combination of new dogs entering with lots of energy and an entry area crowded with tired dogs, is a recipe for disaster. Much like when your kid gets grumpy when they are tired after playing all day, adding a super excited dog, full of energy and just arriving to the park for some fun, directly into a crowd of already worn-out dogs often leads to things spiraling out of control. The best way to prevent this from happening is as soon as you enter, keep moving with your dog, and avoid setting up camp near this often chaotic area. Once your dog is acclimated to the park, keep moving as well instead of hanging out on the same bench the entire time you are there. This can prevent territorial behavior from your dogs and others.

Know Your Dog

Knowing your dog and their normal behavior is critical to preventing issues before they can occur. Paying attention to how your dog interacts with other dogs and their body language throughout the interactions can ensure you advocate for them and get them out of a situation they may not be fully comfortable with. For example, dogs can have many different play styles. Some are extremely loud players, some are more laid-back. Some love high-energy play and wrestling, while some prefer games of chase instead. If you have carefully observed your dog’s behavior, and you know they are not fans of the louder players who run up growling, or aren’t particularly keen on larger dogs jumping at them, you can guide them away from a dog you observe displaying these behaviors, thus avoiding any issues before they even have a chance to begin.

Keep your head on a swivel

If you visit the dog park regularly, it’s likely that you’ll start to recognize people and form friendships based on your shared love of dogs. While it’s easy to fall into the trap of treating the trip to a dog park like a social occasion with your fellow dog owners, it’s very important to keep an eye on your dog. Don’t forget, this trip is for your pup too, so keep your eyes on your dog to help them stay safe and have fun!

A Solid Recall is Mission Critical

Having a solid foundation in obedience training is step 1 towards ensuring a dog that will listen, even with all the distractions of a dog park. Anytime a dog will be in an off-leash setting, a solid come when called is mission critical to their safety. Should an issue occur, being able to reliably recall your dog on command to get them out of the situation is key to preventing injuries or worse. Don’t wait until you get to the park to test your dog’s skills. A solid recall starts on leash in a low distraction environment like your home or our training studio. The Come command is something we work on in all of our two-week or longer training programs, and is a main focus of our Advanced Off-leash programs. In our off-leash programs, we focus on being able to communicate with your dog from a distance, like you would be in a dog park setting.

When at the dog park, it’s important to remember that your dog may be a friendly guy, but not all dogs are. Be sure that you are keeping your dog safe by watching other dogs in the park. Don’t be afraid to advocate for your dog, remove them from an escalating situation, or even leave the park if things get out of hand. Following these few simple safety protocols can set you and your dog up for a fun and safe trip while visiting the park!