How do I properly socialize my dog at a dog park?

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Socialize your dog before you take it to the dog park, not when she’s already there!

Aggressive or timid dogs are not good candidates for the dog park anyway and, if yours is one, she can injure herself or other dogs.

To socialize:

• Take your dog to the veterinarian to make sure that she’s is in good health and is up to date with vaccinations before introducing her to other people or pets. This is for both the safety of others and your dog.
• Enroll in obedience classes. Puppies to elders can all benefit. By teaching your dog to be attentive to commands, you’ll be able to control and relax her in almost every situation.
• Practice! Just because class is over, doesn’t mean that it’s time for you to stop using the commands.
• Walk your dog. Grab the leash and take her around the block so she can get used to the sounds of traffic, other people and other dogs. Keep tight control of the leash, especially if your dog is sizable. Slowly let your dog “smell” and introduce himself to other dogs. As she gets used to it, you’ll slowly be able to trust him with more slack on the leash.
• Praise and reward your dog. Positive reinforcement is one of the best ways to teach your dog to behave around others, because you’re encouraging her to repeat good behavior. If she exhibits something unacceptable, ignore the behavior, separate and distract her from other dogs and people; in other words, give her a “time out.”
• Take your dog everywhere! The goal of socialization is to be able to have your dog remain obedient to you in any situation. The more scenarios you place her in, the more she will excel.

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