The park is a great place for your dog to run free amongst other dogs and more importantly, socialize. There'd also be the occasional butt sniffing, but consider the 'hazards' that come with the park. While the park sounds just perfect, you'd need to make sure that your dog is ready for the park environment. Not sure what this entails? Then take a look at this checklist:
- Will Your Dog Have Fun?
More than anything, you need to be certain that your pet would have a good time. Not all dogs are big fans of socializing with other dogs, and your pup might get frightened by large, adult dogs. A good way to break them in would be supervised playgroups or play dates, perhaps with friends' puppies who are in the same age bracket and would interact pleasantly. Also, if your dog displays signs of aggression, even at that young age, you would need to work on curbing that before introducing him to a dog park.
- Are Vaccinations In Order?
Taking your unvaccinated pup to the park opens them up to transmittable diseases, and puts other dogs at risk. This is why you need to get your pup vaccinated first for all necessary ailments, as well as various parasite preservatives. Furthermore, as a rule of thumb, your pup should only visit the park when they are 17 weeks or older. Keeping your pup's information updated is also essential in case they get separated from you, so, even when you're letting them off-leash, the collar and tags should stay on.
- Does Duke Have Basic Training?
The most basic of training: would Duke respond to a "come!" command? If you're not certain that your dog would respond to your summons, then it isn't quite dog park time yet. To get Duke used to answering the summons, you can start in the living room with short distances. You can then extend this to further distances such as calling from an entirely different room. For every time he runs to you, make sure you give him a treat; this would help with ingraining this response in his psyche. This particularly comes in handy when it looks like trouble is starting to brew at the park and you need to get your pup out of the mix.
- Are You Conversant With Dog Park Manners?
Knowing dog park manners is important to keep your dog in line. For instance, there's a thin line between normal play behavior and bullying, and you need to be able to detect when your dog is acting up. This is a two-way street, so it could happen to your pup too and you should be ready to rescue your pet. A dog park is meant for relaxation and socializing, so, if your dog is experiencing stress and anxiety, the purpose is defeated. Similarly, recall that pups would pick up proper mannerism from well-socialized adult dogs, so the occasional growl from one during dog to dog interaction shouldn't be perceived as a fight, especially when no harm or bullying is evident.