General Dog Care

Dog Parks; What You Need To Know Before Visiting!

Picture from google.com

Dog parks, normally when I think about dog parks I visualize large green pastures with high fences with dogs running around off leash playing with each other while their pet parents socialize and relax. Is that what you envision as well? I’ll be honest in saying that I have personally never seen a dog park in real life and only in movies. So in order to write this article, I did quite a bit of research to find out what REAL dog parks are like, are they safe and what you should do to prepare for your visit to the dog park, or if you should even visit a dog park at all. After this article there will be a page of references, I highly recommend you read them as they contain lots of amazing information that I was not able to dive into during this article. 

Firstly, I would like to go over the benefits of dog parks. Dog parks can be great places for dogs to get off leash and burn some energy, especially in big cities and places where local governments may have put restrictions on dogs and where they are not allowed to be. It creates a space for the dog parent and dog to bond and be outside and get some fresh air, and is a great way for the pet parent to get in some exercise too!

Deciding if the Dog Park is Right for You and Your Dog

*The Park’s Structure

One of the very first things you can do to make sure your dog will be safe at the dog park is to check out the park itself first. You’ll want a dog park that has high fences and plenty of spaces for dogs to separate from each other in case one needs a break. You don’t want another dog to be able to charge at another and tackle them, even in play, and the other dog does not have an option to hide if they are not interested in playing with that dog or that way. Take note to see if dogs are conjuring around the openings of the park and how big the entrances are. If dogs seem to loiter around this spot, it could possibly start some anxiety with your dog being bombarded with new dogs and scents all at once especially by dogs who are hyper and may not read body language signs from other dogs, but we will go over that in detail after. 

Is it located next to a busy road? Do you feel secure with the park’s entrance that it could stop your dog or other dogs from running outside of the park? Do they have benches, clean up areas or communal watering areas for dogs? Be careful about letting your dog drink from communal areas as they could spread unwanted germs and illnesses from dog to dog. 

*The behaviors of your dog and other dogs

The other area of mention is to watch how your dog is with other dogs, even before going to the dog park. Just like humans, not every dog is interested in every other dog and they may not get along with every other dog. Once a dog hits mature age, they may have less drive to meet new dogs or to play with others (and just like humans, there may be some who simply cannot get enough of other people and dogs). 

If your dog is showing signs like: yawning a lot, panting, becoming suddenly startled, possessive of toys or food then maybe the dog park is not for you. Also be conscious if your dog is overly hyper and plays rough. Not every dog is going to want to play with your dog, especially if they are very hyper! Keep an eye on your dog and other dogs, if they start giving signs that they are becoming uncomfortable around your dog, or your dog is uncomfortable around another dog, you will need to be able to remove yourself and your dog until both have calmed down. 

Preparing to go to the Park!

After doing some research, checking out your local park and determining if your dog plays well with others then it is time to get ready to go to the park! Leashes and collars are not the only items you will need to go to the park. Disposable bags for accidents are a must, along with bringing a dish and water for your dog to drink from when they get thirsty. There are lots of cool portable water carriers for dogs that you can find online or at your local pet retailer. 

Aside from physical items, I highly recommend that your dog is fully up to date all their vaccinations before visiting the park. If you wonder how long you should wait, your vet can tell you that information. They will also be able to tell you what vaccinations they believe your dog should have if you plan on visiting dog parks. 

So What if the Dog Park isn’t for You and Your Pup?

As I stated before, dog parks are not for every pair of pet parents and dogs. But there are still plenty of cool activities that you can do with your dog that don’t involve them having to socialize with tons of other dogs. Consider joining a sport with them like agility or frisbee! There are also events called Barn Hunt which you can find more about at the American Kennel Club’s website. 

I hope this article helped you in deciding if dog parks are right for you and your dog, and if they are not I truly hope you look into those fun activities listed just above! They will help give your pet and you some amazing bonding experiences. 


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References

Barn Hunt. (n.d.). American Kennel Club. Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://www.akc.org/sports/title-recognition-program/barn-hunt/

Bergel, H., KPA-CTP, CPDT-KA, & CBCC-KA. (2021, June 7). Should Your Pup Go to the Dog Park? Daily Paws. https://www.dailypaws.com/dogs-puppies/dog-exercise-play/are-dog-parks-safe-for-all-dogs

Dog Parks: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – APDT. (2017, March 10). APDT. https://apdt.com/resource-center/dog-parks-good-bad-ugly/

Helmer, J. (n.d.). Dog Park Safety: What to Know Before You Go. WebMD. Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/features/dog-park-safety#2

Grooming Tips for Pet Parents

How to Help your Dog Get Used to Nail Trimming

I have met quite a few pet owners and groomers alike who say “dogs just don’t like their feet touched”. I want to tell you that this is a myth! Any dog at any age can get used to having their paws touched and nails done.

Getting your dog’s nails trimmed at the groomer or vets office does not have to be an anxiety ridden, bad experience. Most of the dogs I groom generally don’t mind having their nails done and their experience in the salon is much better because of it! 

Nail trimming is a very important part of the grooming process. Overgrown nails can splinter and break, which is painful especially if it opens the vein in the nails known as the quick. Overgrown nails also make it difficult for your dog to walk, their toes and knuckles bending in ways they weren’t meant to do for extended periods at a time. This can lead to inflammation and discomfort, and sometimes even arthritis. 

Here are some ways to get your dog used to those nail trims! This is broken down first to puppies then next to adults, as adults typically need a bit more training to get used to the nail trim but please know that they can definitely get used to it! Both tips use nail clippers and your pups favorite treats!

Above all, be safe. If your dog is showing signs of aggression or extreme fear, contact a local behaviorist to work together as your dog may need a tailored plan specific plan. 

Puppies: 

*Start by playing with your puppy’s paws and giving treats when they let you hold them. Work the toes and all the pads, putting pressure on the nails too!

*If your puppy starts to pull away, that’s okay. Let them go and resume the training when they have settled down. Do not force them. 

*Once your puppy is used to you touching their paws (this could take a few sessions), show the puppy the clippers and give them a treat. 

*Touch the clippers to their paws, praising them when they do not pull away. Also be mindful of the curious puppy! They may try and mouth the clippers, make sure to stop praising if this happens. We want them relaxed when the clippers touch their feet!

*Gently clip off the tip of the nails to start. Again, if your puppy becomes startled or pulls away let them go. Do not scold them for pulling, but give lots of praise when they let you clip their toes!

Puppy training, if done early, should be fun and relatively quick as long as it is done in a positive manner! 

But say you have an adult dog that is already adverse to having their paws touched and nails clipped. It will take longer than with a puppy in most cases, but it can be done!

This is not an advertisement, but here are some great training treat options! Make sure to always check the ingredients to your dog treats before purchasing them to get the best quality treats. These will be used often!

Adults:

*Start when you and your dog are relaxing together, touch their shoulder gently with light pressure. 

*Work your way down to their legs to their paws. If your dog starts to pull, stop and let them relax again. Also withhold treats and praise until you resume. Continue to do this until you can get all the way down to the paw. Use soothing, long tones when praising as you pet and give treats. 

*When you get to the paw, start working each toe and putting pressure on them. Put pressure on the toenails themselves. Again, if your dog pulls or begins to stress out let them relax before trying again. Before moving on to the next step your dog should be completely relaxed when you touch their legs and feet. Remember to praise your dog when they give you their paw or let you hold it! 

*Next, time to get them used to the nail clippers! Don’t worry, you still won’t be clipping those nails for a while. 

*Pull out the clippers, show your pup and give them a treat. Remember to be happy when you pick those clippers out! Pretty quickly your dog will associate you pulling those nail clippers out with a treat. This step can also be done first, and is sometimes encouraged to do first as this typically goes faster and will help you stay motivated with training! 

*Time to put these together. Sitting relaxed with your dog on the floor, hold your dogs paw in one hand and hold the clippers in another. Slowly bring the clippers towards your dog’s paw while playing with the other and giving praise if they stay relaxed. Also be sure to open and close your clippers as well so they get used to the noise. Let your dog pull away if they start to get restless, and resume later when they have settled down. 

*Continue this until you can touch the clippers to your dogs nails and they are completely comfortable with them. You want to be able to touch the clippers to each nail and your dog be calm. Now is when you can attempt the nail trim! 

*Trim just the tip of the nail, keeping at a 45 degree angle as to make sure you do not expose the quick. Also, don’t expect to get all paws done on one sitting. 

**A key tip is to also keep your dog’s anatomy in mind! They will fight you a lot less if you are not pulling their legs out in ways that may be uncomfortable. You may not even realize you’re doing this! I recommend going on Google, Pinterest or other search engines to find pictures of dog anatomy and a close up picture of a dogs’ nail. This will give you a better idea of how you can help them stay comfortable and about how far you can trim on your dog’s nails. 

**Beware dull nail clippers! Either have nail clippers sharpened or replaced when dull. Using dull tools makes it harder for you and more uncomfortable for the dog due to the extra pressure needed for trimming. 

And there you have it! Don’t feel bad in the slightest if nail trimming just makes you too nervous, that’s where your local groomer can help! Just getting your dog up to that step will help your dog enjoy the groomers much more! They may also be able to grind/file the nails, helping to keep them smooth instead of sharp after they are cut. Taking your dog in once a month will keep your dogs nails at a healthy and manageable length.

Please feel free to reach out via comment or email with any questions you may have about this or other pet grooming related topics!

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