Whether you’re raising money for a brand-new dog park or would like to make improvements to an existing park, there are tons of fun ideas for dog park fundraising! All pet owners want a safe place for their pups to socialize and the right kind of event can rally an entire community. Here are some ideas sure to get tails wagging and people smiling…and donating!
What’s better than a dog in a costume? Lots of dogs in costumes! No matter what time of year, costume contests are a fun way to get involved and dress their pups in wild outfits. You can monetize the contest by suggesting a donation upon entry and giving away prizes donated by local businesses. Add to the excitement by inviting notable people in your community to judge!
Ask any pet parent, and they’ll tell you bath time can be a challenge. Not many of us like to get sudsy with our dogs, even though we love having a clean pooch in the house. Why not capitalize on this and include a dog wash at your event? Contact mobile groomers in your area and ask them if they would like to volunteer their services or be an event sponsor. This idea is of course geared for warmer months, so nobody gets the post bath shivers!
C Is For Cookie
One thing that humans and dogs have in common is our shared love of food! We can’t get enough chocolate chip cookies, and our pups go bananas over liver and other stinky treats. Please everyone at your fundraiser with goodies for humans and dogs. This gives you two sources of revenue for your new park! You can either call on talented bakers in your organization or recruit human and dog bakeries to donate. Make sure to keep the dog and people treats separate to avoid any unexpected vet bills!
A dog themed raffle or silent auction is a great way to get fundraiser attendees to open their wallets for your dog park. For a silent auction, you can offer goods and services (dog walking, grooming, photography, pet massage, etc) donated by local businesses and sponsors. It’s a good idea to have items at different price points so anyone can participate regardless of budget. Gift baskets are also a popular choice, and they can be filled with gourmet food/wine, pet-specific products, event tickets or spa/hotel getaways.
Imagine this scenario: You’re walking down the street on a hot summer day, and you see a dog locked in a hot car. How you can tell if they might be in distress? What can you do to help? Summer temperatures can skyrocket leaving dogs susceptible to irreparable organ damage or even death. Read on for tips on rescuing a dog in distress.
Reach Out For Help
A dog left in a hot car can suffer from organ failure or death in as little as 15 minutes. Without knowing how long the dog has been left in the car, you’ll need to take quick action. Before putting on your super hero cape, reach out to animal control and law enforcement. If there are nearby shops or restaurants, have them make an announcement asking if anyone has left their dog inside a car. Many dog owners are simply unaware of how hot it gets and that announcement may get them quickly outside. Stay with the car until help arrives.
Did you know that only 28 states have laws prohibiting dogs being left in hot cars? Of those states, only 11 have granted legal authority to Good Samaritans to use any means necessary to save an overheated dog. If you have made every attempt possible to find the dog’s owner and the authorities can’t arrive fast enough to intervene, use your best judgment about saving Fido. The next steps might be actually breaking a window. Many people view saving a dog’s life as a moral obligation, even if they have to break the law to do so. You may want to find a witness who will back up your judgement just in case.
Post Rescue Treatment
Once the dog has been rescued, they need to have their body temperature lowered quickly and safely. First, get the dog into an air-conditioned building or vehicle. Call the closest emergency vet to let them know you’re en route, and provide cool water to drink. If you have enough water, pouring it over the dog can help too – as long as it’s not ice cold. You may also place the dog in front of an electric fan and place cool, wet towels on the dog’s stomach and chest. The sooner you can cool the dog down and get him to an emergency vet, the better their prognosis will be. Hopefully, you’ll never have to step in rescue a dog in distress but if you do, we thank you!
Whether you’re adopting a puppy or an adult dog, nothing is more exciting than bringing a new furry friend home! If you live with other dogs, remember that first introductions matter. How you introduce your new dog to your established pack can have a lasting effect on their relationship. These tips are designed to help integrate your new pup to the pack in a way that will reduce stress for everyone (human and canine alike).
Find Switzerland: Introduce Your Dogs on Neutral Ground
Before making introductions, bring home an item that smells like the newbie for your established dogs to sniff. Maybe it’s a toy, or a piece of clothing that your new dog has been in contact with. By smelling the new pup first, your current dogs can familiarize themselves with their smell and recognize it when they are all introduced! Arrange their first meeting at a neutral location. By meeting somewhere like a dog park or a Sniffspot, nobody will feel like their territory is being threatened, and their first interaction is more likely to go smoothly.
Leash all the dogs meeting each other, and walk them together with about 10 feet of spacing between. This helps to get them used to one another without the stress of a “forced” meeting. Once the walk is done, take the pups to an open area and let them sniff each other for a few moments leaving the leashes on and loose. Remain upbeat and positive through the whole introduction process. Lastly, reward them like crazy so they associate the new dog in their pack as a good thing. If you see any type of aggressive or fearful reactions, separate them and get each dog to focus on the person they are with. You can try another introduction later and be sure to always end on a positive note!
There’s No Place Like Home
Once the dogs have met on neutral turf, it’s time to bring your new pooch home! This can be a pretty scary experience, so to help make things easier on him, bring him home to an empty house (get a friend to watch your other dogs for an hour or so). Also, put away any food, toys, and bedding that belongs to your other dogs. If you have adopted a puppy, be sure to puppy proof your home! Bring Fido in on a leash, and spend some time walking him around the house and yard so he can get familiar with his new home.
After some time, you can let him off leash to freely explore but keep an eye on him at to make sure he’s not getting into anything he shouldn’t. That’s directed at you, Labradors! After he’s finished the tour, bring your other dogs home and re-introduce them out in the yard first. Even if they’re getting along, keep food and toys separate for the first several days as mingling these items can trigger territorial aggression.
Make sure your new pup isn’t feeling overwhelmed by giving him alone time from your other pets. This could mean time in another room, a crate, or on a solo walk with you. Also be sure to monitor each dog’s body language for the first week to make sure everyone is having a positive time and not displaying aggression or fear. If things between your pack are tense at first, no need to panic! Experts say that it can take up to a month to work out the kinks of their new relationship. If you do notice any signs of aggressive behavior, keep periods of interaction brief. Halt any escalations with a firm, consistent command and then separate them for a short period. When they behave well together praise them equally. You can also bring in the help of a dog trainer to aid in the transition. With time, training, and praise, your new and established dogs will create a new pack hierarchy, and have their own very special bond!
Even though dogs are our best friends, it’s time to recognize something. They are total weirdos. Dogs are infamous for some very strange behavior like sniffing butts, humping legs, chasing their tails, and eating poop. There’s no doubt that you’ll recognize some of the wacky traits listed below, so let’s figure out the logic behind some of our best friend’s more quirky dog behaviors.
Butt sniffing may seem crazy to us, but it’s a source of *very* valuable information for your pup. Unlike humans, a dogs’ primary sense is smell. Their little snouts are about 100,000 stronger than our human noses. They can even smell from each nostril separately! Think of butt sniffing as dogs exchanging business cards with each other; their anal glands excrete scents that hold key information that is instantly translated through scent. Just by a brief butt sniffing session, your dog can find out their new friends’ gender, health and reproductive status, temperament, and what foods they eat regularly. So rather than be grossed out the next time you see your dog and another dog greet each other with some butt sniffing, be amazed at how much they’re learning about each other!
Dining on Doo Doo
Poop eating is truly the most bizarre and yuck inducing behaviors a dog can exhibit. The worst part is that after they’ve indulged, they usually want to lick your face – ugh! Thanks, but no thanks! What on earth would compel your cute, beloved, snuggly friend to eat poop? The scientific name for this disgusting phenomenon is coprophagia. A recent study by veterinarian Benjamin Hart at the University of California discovered that 16% of dogs are habitual poop eaters, and 24% of dogs are rare to occasional poop eaters. Poop eating is normal in puppyhood, but if the behavior is not addressed it may carry on throughout a dog’s entire life. There are health issues that could prompt a dog to eat feces such as poor digestion and plain old hunger. If a dog has poor digestion, the food may come out in a very similar way to how it went in, prompting a dog to have dinner, version 2.0. Parasites can also take nutrients from their food, so Fido may opt to eat anything he can get his paws on to feel full. If you suspect your dog is eating poop due to a health condition, contact your vet right away.
Tails are just plain entertaining for humans and dogs alike! For a playful pup, seeing a fluffy tail (even one that’s on his own body) may just be too fun to resist. Often chased, though seldom caught, tail chasing is usually just a dog burning off excess playful energy. It’s like your dog is twiddling his thumbs! Tail chasing can be a genetic predisposition in breeds such as German Shepherds, Bull Terriers, and Dobermans. Just like us humans, dogs can develop obsessive compulsive disorders. One common display of OCD is wait for it, compulsive tail chasing. If you notice that your dog seems fixated on chasing his tail rather than playful, seek help from a canine behaviorist. They can use behavior modification training and anti-depressants (if necessary!) to help stop compulsions.
Is your dog being physically amorous with other dogs at the park? How about with inanimate objects, or worse…your leg? What exactly is causing this blush inducing behavior? If you have a humper at home, know that you’re in good company. It’s a common issue, and one that may not need to be addressed. First, it’s important to understand that both male and female dogs hump. Spayed and neutered dogs may hump as well, and though dogs under the age of one are more frequent humpers, many dogs don’t age out of this behavior. The first reason for humping is a sexual impulse. Whether it’s another dog, your leg, or a pillow, dogs will hump any dang thing for sexual gratification. Dogs of both sexes (especially those whom have not been fixed) can begin humping when they start reaching sexual maturity. Female dogs in heat are will hump another dog of either gender to signal mating. It’s vital to spay and neuter your pet to not only cut down on the humping tendencies but prevent successful mating. Usually dogs aren’t emulating mating behavior when they hump. The ol’ bump and grind can be caused by nonsexual arousal (caused by stress or boredom), and play is another reason that dogs hump each other, which should be totally acceptable if both dogs are fine with it. You should intervene if one of the dogs looks annoyed or is being overpowered by the humper. Social dominance is another reason that dogs hump each other. It’s a vital part of establishing the pecking order within a pack, and to test the submissiveness of another dog. If your dog compulsively humps, a canine behaviorist can help find the cause and help calm your little Romeo down.
The Fourth of July is the highlight of summer for many of us. Your dog, however, may not be so enthusiastic about the holiday. Keep reading for some handy pet safety tips!
For many pets, fireworks are terrifying and for good reason! They’re loud and unpredictable. While us humans are having a great time celebrating, our pets only hear explosions and feel scary vibrations. It makes perfect sense that their fight or flight instinct would kick in. Thankfully, there are ways to comfort your dog on the loudest day of the year while keeping them safe.
Fido’s First 4th
Is this your first Fourth of July with a new four-legged family member? Even if you have a confident, social, happy dog, they may be sensitive to fireworks, so it’s best to spend your first holiday together so you can gauge your pup’s response. Being in a familiar, comfortable (and secure!) place will help calm them down if they become scared of the noises. If you notice that your dog isn’t bothered by fireworks, you may be able to celebrate at places other than your home next year.
Stay Home, Stay Safe
If you know your dog is afraid of fireworks, the biggest danger you face is Fido running away from home. 30% of all lost pets go missing on July 4th. If your pup gets spooked, their first instinct is to flee. Thousands of dogs run away every year, so make sure your home is secure; double check your fence line for holes/gaps and close all gates securely. Ensure your dog is wearing an ID tag and is microchipped (with current info!). If your dog does escape, don’t panic! Start searching for your pup in your neighborhoo and alert your neighbors (social media can be very helpful). Animal shelters are on high alert around the week of the 4th, so be prepared to call local shelters in case your pet has been picked up by a Good Samaritan.
“I’m Freaking Out, Man!”
If your dog shows intense fear around fireworks, don’t leave them unsupervised. Ever. They’re depending on you to keep them safe and will feel so much more comforted by your presence. Give your dog lots of pets, treats and reassurance. You can distract your dog with games, puzzle toys or their favorite bone. One of our favorite options is the Thundershirt; it’s the dog equivalent of swaddling a baby. It has an 80% success rate and the lightweight vest applies mild pressure to help ease anxiety. CBD treats, pheromones, and melatonin can also be helpful anxiety supplements, but try them beforehand to determine which works best. If your pet enjoys his crate, that enclosed space may make him feel especially safe. You can even leave your own blanket or shirt in the crate for added comfort. Turn on the television or play music before the fireworks start to help drown out the noise before they really get going. If all else fails or if you just know nothing else will help, contact your vet who can prescribe a sedating medication to help make the Fourth of July more manageable. Woof!
City dogs may be a sophisticated bunch, but just like their friends in the ‘burbs, they need space to play! A walk through the concrete jungle is fun, but what’s an urban dog to do when the hankering to fetch a ball takes hold? City dwelling dogs are on the rise and apartment communities are catering to them in a big way. Property management companies know that pet friendly amenities are a huge draw for prospective residents. They are catering to this furry niche by offering doggy welcome gifts, events and dog spas. But even if Rex is living the high life in a penthouse apartment, space can be hard to come by. Thankfully, rooftop dog parks are the perfect antidote! They provide a much needed outlet for our furry friends while also giving residents a safe, secure place to relieve their pets 24/7.
Space: The Furry Frontier
Property management companies have to get creative when it comes to offering pet perks. One of the smartest tactics in urban communities is converting underutilized rooftop or terrace spaces into bark parks. We’re often asked about the amount of space needed for a rooftop dog park. The short answer: it depends! Even when dealing with limited square footage, most communities will have room for a pet relief kit and a grooming station. For larger areas, additional amenities like seating, fountains, shade, and agility components can turn your rooftop into a first class dog park with an amazing view! When designing your park, amenity placement is key. You’ll need enough room between components for dogs to safely run and play. It’s also important to consider any resident events you plan on hosting such as Yappy hours. Park Chelsea at the Collective, a 429-unit luxury building in Washington DC, chose play components with custom portable bases to provide flexibility. This allows their residents to rearrange the agility course for an added challenge and to store the equipment when more room is needed for events.
One of a dog’s favorite things about going to the park is running on grass! Since real grass isn’t exactly a great fit for rooftops, we have another option that is attractive year-round and offers the ease of low maintenance. Our popular Turf Pods are a portable system designed specifically for hard surfaces like cement, asphalt, or decking. With antimicrobial agents that reduce odor and elevated tiles that provide aeration and drainage, these are a perfect solution. Turf pods come in standard 36”x 48” squares that snug together using the park’s perimeter/wall and can be moved for easy cleaning underneath and to help manage wear. Unlike traditional roll turf, the pods don’t require professional installation and are a much more affordable option.
Features for Fido
Rooftop dog parks can go from “meh” to “wow” with the addition of the right features. Agility equipment keeps dogs engaged while burning off excess energy, and all dog parks benefit from a dog waste station to help keep the area clean. A fire hydrant is the canine equivalent of the office water cooler and adds a cute aesthetic to any dog park. If you and your pooch are easily parched, a human and dog drinking fountain is sure to cool you both off on hot summer days. There are so many options to turn an empty rooftop dog park into a place all dog residents will be barking to go!
Safety should be the top priority for all dog parks but is crucial component for a rooftop. It’s vital to have fencing or a barrier that is at least 5’ high. Double slats or a solid wall are also recommended so that smaller dogs can’t slip out. A double gated entry is also a good idea to ensure that dogs are safe on their way in and out of the park. A safe dog is a happy dog, and with just a few steps, your rooftop dog park can be a safe and inviting place for dogs to have the time of their lives!
Whether you and your pooch are just looking to have some fun at the dog park, or want to compete in agility competitions, first impressions to dog agility training are key. Dogs who are properly introduced to agility components are more likely to use them again and have fun! No matter what age, breed, weight, or temperament, agility can benefit your dog in so many ways! From increased focus, helping with behavior issues such as lack of confidence and/or anxiety, and creating a stronger bond between yourself and your dog through teamwork!
Start Slowly with Enthusiasm!
Fido’s first exposure to agility components should be extra fun and super positive! Now is not the time to worry about them perfecting their weave pole speed, or teeter totter skills, but rather a time for them to become acquainted with the idea of engaging with the components. Let your dog’s curiosity lead the way during the introduction; they will probably sniff the heck out of it, and possibly pee on it, which is a part of the “getting to know each other” process. If they interact with the agility components on their own (like walking though a Bow Wow Barrel without a prompt), give positive reinforcement through praise, pets, and treats. If your dog seems hesitant about the agility components, don’t rush them – rather praise and treat them when they go near the equipment. You want to encourage your dog to view these components as fun, and that they are rewarded by engaging with them.
Once your dog feels comfortable with agility components, its time to get moving! Trying out agility components may or may not happen on your dog’s first exposure; you be the judge of whether they’re ready or not. Depending on where you are (a dog park with agility components, your own backyard, or a dog agility facility), you’ll have to gauge potential distractions. Try to avoid a busy time of day when other dogs may distract your pup from using the agility pieces. Let’s break it down:
Use your dogs biggest motivator (treats, a toy, a tennis ball, verbal and physical praise, etc) to entice them through, over, under, or around the agility component.
The first time around, you may want to leash your dog to help guide them (for example, if they were going to walk over a ramp or an A frame. This will help your dog understand what they’re supposed to do, though you won’t need the leash for long. You may also guide them through the obstacle with treats or a toy.
Once they’ve completed an agility event, praise and treat them like they are the best dog on earth (which they are)! Try each agility component for several minutes before moving on to the next. Be sure to take play breaks so their concentration doesn’t get overloaded. Learning new things is better when it’s fun!
Once your dog has a firm understanding of agility components, how can you help keep them interested and wanting to use them regularly? Depending on your dogs’ level of skill and interest, there are many ways to get keep them involved in agility. Got a naturally gifted canine athlete? Join one of the many agility clubs across the country like USDAA, NADAC, or AKHA! These are serious and competitive organizations that can take a good agility athlete to the level of competitions. If you love how agility improves your dog’s behavior and crazy energy, but his skills need some improvement, find a local agility class. These are wonderful environments that will allow your dog to hone his skills, have fun and make new friends! Just think of how your pup will impress everyone at the dog park after a few classes! If you have a dog that isn’t at the level of classes or competition, keep going to the dog park and encouraging them to use the agility components. They may just surprise you with how fast they learn and progress!
There are few things in life better than getting kisses from a dog. However, you may not feel this way if your dog’s breath is so bad it could peel paint! Dogs aren’t self-conscious about their halitosis and will kiss you no matter what ghastly smell is coming from their mouth. Thankfully there are many ways you can be a friend to your best friend, and help them improve their oral health.
What Causes Canine Bad Breath?
Halitosis (or bad breath) in dogs can be caused by several factors. It’s important to speak with your veterinarian about what may be the cause of your dog’s bad breath and rule out any underlying health issues.
Periodontal Disease: Like humans, if dogs don’t maintain proper oral hygiene, they can develop dental issues. Tartar and plaque build up are the most common, and can be the culprit behind some nasty morning breath especially if decay is a factor. If this buildup is not treated, it can progress to periodontal disease which includes inflamed gums, overgrowth of bacteria, and even worse breath (if you can imagine it!). Also keep in mind that smaller dogs are more susceptible to periodontal disease than larger dogs because their teeth are packed more closely together making them vulnerable to filthy fangs.
Pyoderma: Pyoderma is a bacterial skin infection that is commonly occurs in the facial and lip folds of a dog. Brachycephalic breeds (calling all Pugs, Bulldogs, Pekinese & Boston Terriers!) are especially susceptible to this condition, but it can affect any breed. Symptoms include scaly, crusty, or pustules which produce an odor. They look much like a large, horrible pimple. Treatments include antibacterial sprays , topical hydrocortisone cream, and antibiotics.
Kidney Disease: Metabolic issues like kidney disease can also negatively affect your dogs breath. Kidneys help eliminate toxins in the blood stream, so when they are not doing their job, the waste build up can cause a terrible mouth odor.
Diabetes: Rather than foul smelling breath, a diabetic dog produces a sickly-sweet fruit like odor in its mouth. This is due to high levels of diabetic ketones that are in the body. It can also smell a little like the acetone you find in nail polish.
Brush, Brush, Brush: You (hopefully!) brush your pearly whites twice a day, every day. Now imagine that you’re stuck on a desert island for months without a toothbrush. Things would feel pretty gross inside your mouth, right? This is probably the state of affairs in your dogs’ mouth if you’re not brushing his teeth regularly. Brushing can be a daunting task at first (if you can, start during puppyhood!), and both you and your dog will have learn together. Start out once a week and gradually increase to at least 3 sessions per week (daily is ideal). There are many flavors of dog tooth paste that are irresistible to dogs, so make sure to find one that your pooch loves. Also make sure to find an appropriately sized toothbrush for your dogs’ mouth. When you go in to brush, get down on your dogs’ level, and let your pup become familiar with both the brush and paste. If your dog is tolerating this, gently pull back their lips and softly brush. Make sure to take breaks to reward your dog with treats (it sounds counterintuitive while brushing but removing tartar/plaque and not necessarily food particles is your number one concern). Be patient, and reassuring to your pooch, and don’t get frustrated if it takes several sessions for him comfortable with the concept.
Veterinary Dental Cleanings: If your dog absolutely won’t allow you to brush his teeth and has bad breath, consider a dental cleaning with your vet. Dogs will receive an initial exam and blood work to ensure they are healthy enough for anesthesia. They are then placed under general anesthesia so the dentist can do a thorough cleaning and address any underlying dental problems. For example, a vet may pull a dogs infected tooth during a cleaning if it’s found to be the source of pain, infection, or bad breath. Vets can also treat gum issues they discover during the cleaning. Though many dog owners may be nervous with the idea of anesthetizing their dog, rest assured it’s very safe. Ask your vet about their anesthesia protocol; more and more vets are using local anesthesia during dental procedures to they don’t have to administer as much general anesthesia. Depending on the state of your dog’s oral health, professional cleanings are recommended every 6 months – 1 year.
Chews and Treats: There’s no question that your dog is going to love this solution! The right treats may be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to treating their bad breath. Dental chews are designed to help remove tartar and plaque while satisfying your dogs natural urge to chew. Make sure to never leave your dog unattended with a chew, and check labels to avoid artificial ingredients, sugar, and fillers. For a special treat, consider giving your dog a raw frozen bone! They will go crazy for it, and these bones encourage a pH level that kills bacteria in their mouth!
It’s no secret that millions of people use cannabis for medicinal and/or recreational purposes. There are hundreds of chemical properties in cannabis, the most well-known being THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis (AKA getting high), but can also help with health issues including pain, nausea, anxiety, and epilepsy. However there’s a new kid on the block that’s becoming a superstar in the pet health industry – keep reading for more info on how CBD might help your canine.
What is CBD?:
CBD (Cannabidiol) is one of the chemical compounds found in cannabis, and for pet health applications, it’s derived from hemp plants that contain less than 0.3 percent THC (so your dog won’t get stoned!) and is considered safe and nontoxic by veterinarians. CBD supplements can be ingested orally or can be applied directly to the skin with a topical salve. Right now, you can legally purchase CBD for your pet in all 50 states through veterinary clinics, pet stores and online retailers.
How can CBD help your pooch?:
Because cannabinoids offer both relaxation and pain-relieving benefits, there are many situations in which CBD therapy can be helpful. If your dog suffers from seizures, low appetite, chronic pain, cancer, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, or neurodegenerative conditions, you may want to consider adding CBD to their treatment plan. However, they can sometimes interact with other medications, so it’s important you speak to your vet dog beforehand. Results for anxious dogs are especially compelling. If you have a Nervous Nellie who suffers from separation anxiety, fear of loud noises or fireworks, or is constantly on high alert, CBD may help to take the edge off.
Depending on the delivery system you are using, dosing may vary. You might consider starting with half the suggested dose to see how your dog responds, and slowly increase as needed. General CBD dosages are as follows:
Dogs up to 25 lbs. – up to 1.25 mg twice per day
25-50 lbs. –up to 2.5 mg twice per day
50-75 lbs. – up to 3.75 mg twice per day
over 75 lbs. – up to 3.75 mg twice per day
If your dog is on the picky side, don’t give up hope! You may need to try several different brands until you find one that your dog finds palatable. We use CBD with our office dogs, and have found oil is the easiest to work with. You can drop it directly into their food, a treat, peanut butter, etc.
Again, it’s helpful to reach out to your vet with any questions and do some additional research to help determine of CBD might help your dog!
Shy dogs have a special place in our hearts! Anyone who has ever loved a dog will tell you that they absolutely have their own personalities and funny quirks. Though their temperaments vary from pooch to pooch, shyness is a fairly common trait. It’s especially noticeable in dogs who have experienced abuse or poor socialization early in life. Rescue dogs are even more susceptible due to trauma associated with being in a noisy shelter, going from foster home to foster home and essentially a lack of stability. For a shy pup, the dog park can be an overwhelming and scary place at first. Thankfully there are ways to safely introduce Fido to the dog park to ensure that they have a life filled with fun visits and play.
Signs your dog may be timid or shy:
If your family has recently adopted a dog and you’re unsure about their temperament, body language can help give you some insight into how they feel. If your dog exhibits some or all these traits, they may need some extra TLC and training:
Ears are flat against his head
Often in a cowering posture
Shies away from interactions with other dogs and/or people
Tucks his tail between his legs
Panting or shaking
Excessive yawning (a sign of stress)
Skulking, pacing, hiding, or escape attempt
Whining or barking
Avoids eye contact
Nipping, biting, or sneering
Dog Park Introduction Techniques
Basic Obedience: For safety purposes, every dog should respond to basic commands before visiting a dog park. Obedience training can be your best friend’s best friend here! If a shy dog knows exactly what you’re asking/expecting, he may be less likely to panic during a stressful situation. Start at home with simple commands such as “Sit,” “Stay,” and “Come”, and be sure to use lots of positive reinforcement! Once your dog has mastered those commands indoors, try taking them outside where there are more distractions. Working closely with your dog will boost their confidence and give you peace of mind as well.
Additional Training: Sometimes a timid pup can overreact when they feel threatened or nervous. This can be something such as anxious barking, but can also be more problematic if they resort to fear-based responses such as nipping or biting. Fortunately, most reputable trainers offer classes and/or one-on-one sessions geared towards shy dogs. These classes build upon basic obedience and focus on confidence building and strengthening the dog/guardian bond.
Doggy Playdates: If your dog is timid around other dogs, consider an at home playdate before introducing him to the dog park. The best BFF candidate is a calm and gentle dog who is confident around both people and pets. Not only is this a big step in socialization, but your dog will learn appropriate behavior just by being around a laid-back canine. If you don’t have any dogs like this in your life, ask a local dog trainer! Many of them would love to bring a “canine mentor” to a training session or allow your dog to test out a day at doggy daycare where they can learn those same skills in a managed environment.
Practice Park Activities: Teach your dog games like “Fetch” and “Hide and Seek” at home or in your backyard. This not only gives your dog a chance to learn while playing, it also trains them for activities you’ll likely engage in at the dog park. Giving treats or using a clicker can help him focus on the positive and stay out of worry-wart mode. It may sound simple but for a timid dog, just learning that they can initiate an interaction with a predictable outcome can make all the difference.
Putting it All Together: When it’s time to load your pup into the car and head to the park, start slowly. That means doing some background research first: does your local park have a shy/senior dog section? What are the slowest and busiest times (so you can plan accordingly)? Are there any reviews of the park from other park users that might be helpful? Can your dog trainer meet you there to provide an extra set of eyes? Do everything you can to set your dog up for success, but be patient! It might take a few tries, or visiting a few different parks for the stars to line up. And it’s possible that Fido just isn’t a dog park kind of dog, and that’s fine too!
Hopefully these tips will make the dog park a happier place for both you and your pup. Woof!
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