Just another day in the park

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Proper socialization is a huge part of raising a well-rounded and well-behaved dog. Dogs need regular exercise and positive daily interactions with people and other dogs. They need time to be themselves, and time for running, playing, fetching, and sniffing. Active dogs are generally happier and healthier. They tend to have fewer behavioral problems than dogs that are always on leash. Many owners use dog parks to socialize and exercise their dogs.
Taking your dog to a dog park has many benefits beyond socialization and exercise. It stimulates the dog’s mind and has a positive effect on the dog’s owners, too. Studies have shown that people are more likely to speak with each other using dogs as the initial focus. This commonality breaks down the usual social barriers that make people see others as strangers. Research has also shown that dogs improve people’s health by lowering blood pressure and increasing resistance to disease by giving people unconditional love and companionship. This includes reducing anxiety and depression, stimulating people to exercise, and connecting people with others. The unconditional love of an animal companion is very beneficial for the elderly, many of whom are unable to properly exercise their dogs at home and who can benefit from taking their dogs to a dog park.
Be sure to check the rules at your local dog park. Most have generic rules posted. Common rules include:
  • No food or snacks
  • Never leave your dog unattended
  • Clean up after your dog (most parks supply bags for poop removal)
  • Your dog must be current on all shots, most parks have a minimum age (typically 4 months or older)
  • Do not bring a female dog in heat
  • If your dog becomes unruly or plays rough, leash him/her and leave the park immediately.
Some dog parks include a pool or fountain for the dogs to play in, so you may want to bring a towel to dry your dog. Regular dog park users agree that the most important rule is to be aware of your dog’s behavior. No one knows your dog better than you do. You will be the first to notice if he/she is becoming aggressive or seems frightened by another dog. This can stop most unwanted behavior and more importantly, keep your dog safe, happy and healthy.
Do you have any tips for bringing your dog to the dog park?
Jodi G. Thomson was born and raised in Seattle, WA.  She and her husband relocated to Houston, TX in 2010. She enjoys writing and spending time with her husband and their pets.

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