We all love to get out and about with our dogs and the park is the most common place most of us look to take our dogs to exercise them. In the park we are likely to encounter other dogs of all ages, shapes, sizes, breed and energy. We might also perhaps encounter joggers, cyclists, families with children, children on scooters or in prams, picnic havers, ice cream vans or other vendors, sunbathers, and so on! It really can be a busy place, especially at this time of year when the weather is (hopefully!) nice.
Some dogs will cope with this busy and varied environment just fine whilst others might find this experience overwhelming. For some dogs, the presence of other dogs and other dogs interacting with them can also be stressful.
If you have a puppy who is finding their feet, or a dog that perhaps falls into the category of finding these types of experiences overwhelming or stressful, it is good to consider how to approach your trip to these types of places to help them to be able to build their confidence and eventually enjoy this environment. So, here are my top five tips to help you do just that!
Start on the outskirts and make your way in as your dog grows in confidence. This might take some time so don’t expect it to necessarily happen in the first few visits. Always go at your dog’s pace. It is important not to allow your dog to feel overwhelmed, stressed or frightened at any point.
BE AWARE OF NEW STIMULI
If your dog is not used to the loud noises of say an ice cream van or children running around and playing, it is best to stay at distance and allow your dog to acclimatise to these new experiences before moving on. You should look to give the stimuli that your dog is not sure of a wide berth if necessary.
REWARD YOUR DOG
Reward calm, accepting and confident behaviour frequently. Food treats and/or a favourite toy can be great for this!
USE TOOLS SUCH AS A LEAD OR LONGLINE
Keep your dog on a lead or a longline unless you are certain you have a strong recall and you are also sure that your dog is not likely to get frightened and flee.
SEEK HELP IF NECESSARY
If your dog is reactive or showing fear towards other dogs it is best to avoid places like the park and instead seek help from a certified behaviourist.
As with all social experiences and training, consider your individual dog’s needs and tailor your walks to suit the both of you. If in doubt, always ask for help!
Disclaimer: All training is attempted at the owner’s risk and Adem Fehmi accepts no liability for any injuries to pets or owners sustained during training. If your dog is showing signs of a behavioural issue please seek professional advice.