Posts Tagged ‘dog parks’

Shy Dogs & Dog Parks

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018

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
  • Raised hackles
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Nipping, biting, or sneering
  • Submissive urination

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!

 

 

Dog Parks Are For People Too!

Monday, April 9th, 2018

Dog parks are parks for people…with dogs!  Consider this: It’s a late Wednesday afternoon, and as soon as you get home from work, you greet your excited pup and head off to the dog park together. Though you’re tired from a long day, you want your 4-legged friend to have some time to exercise, enjoy the sunshine, and socialize with his furry pals. It’s important to you that your dog reap all the benefits of the dog park on a regular basis, but did you ever consider that it’s benefiting you as well? Read on…

Fresh Air – Truth: Most of us don’t get enough time outside in the fresh air. Between our jobs and hectic schedules, it can be challenging to get some quality outdoor time where you can feel the breeze on your face. While your dog plays, take a few moments to appreciate the great outdoors and take some deep, calming breaths. You’ll be amazed how a few lungfuls of oxygen can help with everyday stress. 

A New Hobby – More and more dog parks now feature agility equipment. If you and your pooch are looking for an exciting new hobby, train your dog to go through an agility course! You can work on improving time through the course, ignoring distractions, and working on advanced agility moves. Your dog will work hard mentally and physically, and you will get a kick out of how talented your dog really is. And just for some giggles, check out these dog agility bloopers.

Exercise – You know that exercise plays a vital role in the overall health of your dog, plus it makes him plain old happy. The same can be said for you! When you take a trip to the dog park with your best friend, take the opportunity to engage with him. By getting your heart rate up, you are taking care of your cardiovascular system and releasing endorphins at the same time.

Feel Good Hormones – Researchers have discovered that when we spend time with our pets, our bodies release a feel-good hormone called Oxytocin. This hormone played a key role in the bonded relationship we began with dogs thousands of years ago. So, while you’re playing fetch with your dog at the park, you’re releasing a hormone that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, and helps strengthen your bond with Fido that much more.

Socializing – Like us, dogs are very social creatures. They enjoy being part of a pack and love to greet every other dogs. They even “exchange business cards” by sniffing each other’s rear ends as they meet each other. Humans need socialization too, though it’s best you leave the rear ends of new friends alone.  If you make going to the dog park part of your lifestyle, you’ll inevitably start seeing some of the same people and get to know them and their dogs. Strangers become friends very quickly when you have dogs around to help break the ice.

A Change of Pace – Many of us are living hectic lifestyles in which we feel overworked and stressed. On top of that, we often spend too much time staring at electronic devices.  There is something to be said for unplugging. Dogs are the best teachers when it comes to living in the moment. Next time you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, head to the dog park and take 30 minutes with your best friend to unwind, unplug, and de-stress. You’ll feel refreshed and recharged when you head home!

Be the Wise Owl – Are you an amateur dog expert? If you have years of experience in training and caring for your own dogs, chances are you have invaluable tricks up your sleeves.  There are lots of new pet parents at the park, or even other folks like you, and it can be a fantastic opportunity to share resources and ideas.  You all may have answers when it comes to reputable veterinarians in the area, favorite chew toys, and basic obedience tips.

Giving Back – If you’re looking for a way to get involved in your community, dog parks are an excellent place to start. Many off-leash areas are run by volunteers who help with maintenance, clean up, and events. By volunteering, you’ll get to know similar minded people, and truly make a difference in your town. And if your community doesn’t have a dog park yet, consider starting your own group to fundraise and help improve the lives of people and their pets.

 

 

Grants: Help Make Your Dog Park Dreams Come True!

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

We believe every pup deserves a place to romp and play, and that every community should have a park that fits the needs of residents and pets alike. We also know the journey of seeing a dog park to completion can be a long one; between securing land and funding, the process can take years.  Fortunately, there are some dog park specific grants and contests to help make the road a little less bumpy. These organizations are committed to helping communities just like yours create dog parks that will make tails wag and people smile. Keep reading for both national and regional opportunities, and be sure to check the application requirements and deadlines.  Good luck!

Nutro Room to Run

The Nutro Room to Run program supports public, non-profit dog parks and off-leash areas. Since 2010, the program has helped enhance over 120 dog parks and committed more than 4,000 volunteer hours across North America. Projects included landscaping and adding trees and other shade structures, as well as adding benches, agility equipment, signage and more for the enjoyment of pets and pet parents. Check their website for more info.

Doris Day Animal Foundation

The Doris Day Animal Foundation (DDAF) is a national nonprofit founded in 1978 by legendary performer Doris Day. Forty years later, their mission continues: to help animals and the people who love them.  As a grant-giving charity, DDAF funds other 501(c)(3) organizations across the US, including community dog parks. They evaluate applications quarterly, with submissions accepted during January, April, July, and October. Click here for grant guidelines and information.

PetSafe Bark for Your Park

  • Through the annual Bark for Your Park competition, PetSafe helps 25 communities across America build and revitalize dog parks. Like applying for grants, there is some information required to enter, so you’ll need:
  •  A letter from a civic leader showing support for your project
  • Photos of your future location or current off-leash dog park
  • Blueprints of your ideal dog park (be sure to include agility components!)
  • A summary of how your community would benefit from the park 
  • Ways your community has shown support for a dog park.  Interested in more info?  Click here. 

Beneful Dream Dog Park Project 

Beneful demonstrates its passion for dog parks by lending a paw to support more than a dozen communities each year. Through its Beneful Dream Dog Park Project, the team provides financial support, hands-on volunteerism and a variety of new resources to share the dog park love. Get the Beneful scoop here. Please keep in mind that eligible parks must be free and open to the public!

The Stanton Foundation

Calling all Massachusetts residents! As part of its mission of encouraging positive dog/human relationships, the Stanton Foundation supports the development of enclosed dog parks in the Commonwealth of MA. This support takes the form of a series of grants to support park design, construction, and capital improvements. Click here to view contribution and application requirements.

Making Pet Travel Pawesome!

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

Making Pet Travel Pawesome: Pet travel has gone to the dogs and pet parents couldn’t be happier!  Between working service animals on flights and more families including their 4-legged friends on vacations, dogs are travelling at record rates. Travelers with service animals and pets know that the potty problem used to mean added airport stress; where will your dog relieve himself when in a time crunch to make your flight? Thankfully airports now provide terminals with accessible animal relief areas which cater to the jet setting pooch. Dog-On-It-Parks is proud to lead the pack with design services and products that make travel more comfortable for dogs and their owners. Two airports that we’ve outfitted (San Diego and Atlanta) were featured in the list of American Kennel Club’s Top 10 Most Dog Friendly Airports. We love making air travel easier for service animals and pets alike, and with just a few key items, any airport can provide a “pawsh” relief area for dogs.

The Grass is Greener:  One of the most important elements in a pet relief area is quality surfacing. One popular option is our PetGrass Pods; their short, dense blades allow for easy waste removal and the antimicrobial agents built into both the yarn and backing help to prevent odors. Available in standard in 50″ x 40″ squares or custom sizes, they snug together for easy installation and maintenance and typically cost less than a standard roll-style turf installation. Pods are a wonderful choice for high traffic areas, as they can easily be swapped around to manage wear and lifted to clean underneath.  The addition of a Fire Hydrant is a fun touch, and provides a place for dogs to get an update on each other’s jet setting adventures.  And don’t let your pooch become parched! Providing hydration for dogs is very important, as they are more likely to become dehydrated while traveling. Our Pedestal Bottle Filler with Pet Bowl features a handy eco-friendly bottle filler as well as a pet bowl, so you don’t have to shell out top dollar for airport bottled water.

Shopping and Adventuring in Style: Dogs aren’t only living the high life at airports. Many more public spaces such as malls, restaurants and retail establishments are welcoming our furry friends and proving pet-friendly areas for play, hydration, and relief. With a treat canister, built in waste bag dispenser and water bubblers galore, our Dream Fountain is a hit among pups everywhere and will keep customers coming back again and again.  Lastly, adding a few select pieces of agility equipment will also help ensure that your public space is the place for dogs to see and be seen, all while having a barking good time.

A-Frame: A Dog Agility Classic

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

A-Frame Storey Bark Park

The A-Frame is a traditional piece of agility equipment; it’s fun for dogs of all shapes and sizes. Now, not all dogs are natural climbers so it is important not to push them past their comfort level. Using treats, praise and positive reinforcement to encourage your dog can also be helpful! According to Pet Expertise there are four types of treats that work best and are healthy options for your dog. They recommend using regular dog kibble, cheese, chicken, and chopped veggies as healthy alternatives to dog biscuits or cookies.

dog-loves-cheese

There are several important differences between our A-Frame and others. First of all, ours is not as steep. We think all dogs should be able to safely and comfortably play on our equipment! When an A-Frame is too steep and/or too narrow, it’s not only unsafe, it will discourage dogs from using the equipment again if they lose their footing or feel they need to jump off the side. With that in mind, our A-Frame is only three feet high at the peak with an extra wide width of 38”. Another important consideration is the angle of the ramp; traditional (professional) dog agility requires it to be a very steep 98 degrees for large dogs and 104 degrees for the smaller pups. By design, our A-Frame is only 43 degrees, so about half as steep. This helps to ensure that any pooch, whether an agility champ or a novice, can feel like a top dog once they conquer the ramp. One last word of warning, if a dog park company says they are using AKC or USDAA standards for their equipment, be careful! It’s always a much safer bet to install recreation level equipment in a public park.

Our A-Frame is also coated with PawsGrip™, our exclusive highly textured material designed for maximum slip resistance. Other products may have rubber or textured polyethylene. Neither of these are really suited for the use a dog park sees, and the surface can crumble, degrade or crack quite easily. However, PawsGrip™ is made from the same materials used in truck bed liners, and provides a more stable and sturdy texturized surface that is super durable and holds up under frequent use and all weather conditions.

dog_on_it-189

So remember when comparing dog park agility equipment, we don’t just offer the widest range of products you will find, but also the safest and highest quality. Dog parks are essential in bringing your community together and sourcing safe equipment with a lifetime warranty will guarantee a long lived (and loved!) place for all the pooches and their people to play!

6401 - Greenwood Urban Wetland Park

Fact: Dog People Make Better Dog Park Equipment

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

Let’s just start off by saying we’re dog people. You know, the kind of folks who have dogs running around the office (see Exhibit A below), make their own dog treats, cross the street just to say hello to another dog, go to 4-H/agility/drafting events on the weekends, belong to a raw food co-op…the list goes on and on.

Quincy

When it comes to designing dog parks and dog park equipment, we think this makes all the difference in the world. Why, you might ask?

Would a restaurant hire a chef who didn’t actually enjoy eating? Because you can surely “cook” something, but it makes a huge difference when made by someone who truly loves food and has the knowledge to make something amazing. Would you trust hopping into an airplane if the engineer didn’t have a basic knowledge (and more would be better here, right?) of physics and how to get a giant piece of metal with wings to fly at 30,000 feet?

dog pilot

We believe the same school of thought applies to dog park equipment. Our office and design team have collectively 30+ years of experience in dog agility, metal fabrication, playground design and dog behavior.

What that means for our customers is that they get the best everything. All of our dog agility components are tested for safety and durability with our office pups who range in size from 15 pounds (Hello Sprocket!) up to our large breed mob of Bernese Mountain Dogs and Labradors, so we know what works for the little guys, the big dogs and every size in between.
6405 with dogs

Design questions? Yep, we got you covered. As the first company in the US to specialize exclusively in dog parks and dog park amenities, our customer service can’t be beat. We can guide you through surfacing options, whether it’s feasible to include a pet fountain or water feature, irrigation considerations, fencing and best of all, respect your budget.

So when you’re looking for a company to help you with your dog park, consider the following points:
1. Do they offer a lifetime warranty against rust on the agility equipment? Hint: We’re the only company in the US that does and believe us, you want this. Between environmental factors such as rain, mud, salt air and male dogs who, ahem, like to water everything in sight, rust is a huge problem in dog parks.

2. How long have they been in business? Dog parks, and dog park businesses are a hot commodity nowadays which means a lot of new companies have dipped their toes into the water. Sure, it gives people more options but they’re not experts like we are. So make sure you’re working with someone who knows what they’re doing and isn’t trying to sell you more equipment than your park has the space for or equipment that is potentially unsafe.

3. Customization: Does the company offer color and text customization? We know that some customers want bright, playful colors and others prefer more muted, natural options. That’s why we offer agility components in two color palettes and have the option for many other colors including blue, gray, black, yellow and more. Also, nothing screams “This is our dog park!” like custom benches and equipment with the park name. We offer that too!

Tire Jump

So whether you’re just getting started and are looking for a turnkey dog park or have an existing park that could use some perking up, make sure you’re getting the best advice. From us, of course!


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