Tag Archives: dog parks

Live Q&A: How to set your dog up for success and safety when playing with other dogs

Do you have questions about how to set your dog up for success when playing with other dogs, dog park safety, and general dog safety, etiquette, and behavior?

Please join my daughter, trainer Mikkel Becker, and Beneful Dream Dog Park Project and pet safety expert Arden Moore for a live Q&A on my Facebook page on Tuesday, Oct. 4, at 7 PM Pacific Time/10 PM Eastern!

Just click over to www.facebook.com/DrMartyBecker a few minutes before the Q&A is set to begin, and Mikkel and Arden will be taking your questions right in the comments!

Can’t make it but still have questions? Post them right here, or email me, and I’ll make sure Mikkel and Arden see them!

About the Presenters

Arden Moore is the dog park safety and behavior expert for the Beneful Dream Dog Parks Project, as well as a radio show host, author, professional speaker, editor, media consultant, dog/cat behavior consultant and master pet first aid instructor.

Mikkel Becker is a certified trainer specializing in dogs and cats, the resident trainer for Vetstreet.com, an honors graduate of the Academy for Dog Trainers at the San Francisco SPCA, a graduate of the Purdue University Dogs and Cats course, and a graduate of the Karen Pryor Academy.

Note: I am currently working with Purina on a number of commercial projects, for which I am receiving compensation.

How good dog owners think about dog parks

Dog parks are playgrounds, not group therapy.

I’m talking about those people who bring dogs to dog parks not to proactively provide opportunities for happy socializing, but to fix socialization problems with other dogs.

The first gets a big thumbs up from me; the second is a real problem. I’ll let my trainer daughter, Mikkel Becker, tell you why:

Many pet parents live with the unspoken rule that “good dogs go to dog parks” and “good people take their dogs to dog parks.” The negative connotation of their dogs not being good fits for a dog park often causes guilt and shame. For that reason, despite a dog’s hesitance or involvement in negative incidents, upset dogs are frequently taken to the park in hopes of making the canine more social. With most dogs, when a park is used to “fix” social issues, the behavior only becomes worse.

One of the bigger concerns I have as a trainer is seeing dogs who are pushed into a situation, like a dog park, where they are overwhelmed and overloaded — and set up for failure.

Is your pet a dog park superstar or more selective about playtime? Either way, it doesn’t make your dog a bad dog, or you a bad dog mom or dad. Just be honest and realistic about who your pet really is, and give him the right kind of fun for his personality. You’ll all be happier that way!

And if your dog is born to play with other dogs, and thinks burning off steam racing around and chasing balls with other four-legged friends, keep an eye out for problems that might be developing. You can find a lot of great dog park safety tips from my friend and colleague Arden Moore on the Beneful Dream Dog Park website — including how to set your dog up for dog park success!

No matter what, though, don’t feel guilty if an honest assessment tells you that your pooch is a dog park party-pooper. Knowing that and protecting him and other dogs from a bad experience means you’re the best kind of dog owner, not the worst!

How dog parks create joy for dogs and owners

I was in St. Louis recently, shooting some pet owner education videos with the folks at Purina as part of my ongoing partnership with them. We were chatting about some of the experiences that have led me to value the human-animal bond so profoundly, and I got around to telling them about the dog park my family donated to help build in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Do you ever have those moments when everyone in the conversation just lights up? That’s what happened when the words “dog park” left my lips. It seems Purina, through its Beneful brand, has been supporting dog park construction and renovation all over the U.S. as part of their Dream Dog Park project for the past six years. They’ve helped create or renovate parks in more than 20 communities so far. (Beating Teresa and me by 19+ – we have some catching up to do, clearly!)

For several years, Beneful built new dog parks from the ground-up, some pretty magnificent ones, in fact. And more recently, they have been providing volunteer and financial support to help improve existing dog parks in need of TLC. Their passion for dog loving communities was palpable.

I understand that dog parks aren’t right for every dog depending on age, temperament, and socialization, among other factors. But for many dogs (and owners), once acclimated, they offer a uniquely welcoming place to exercise and bond outside of the home environment.

In our busy, often over-scheduled, and ‘always on’  lives, many dogs suffer from boredom and lack of exercise (and obesity!) that can be a result of distracted owners who mean well but have a hard time truly unplugging and spending quality time with their pets. And quite honestly, by nature, dogs love to run, play, and just be dogs, off-leash and with others of their kind. This fills a powerful psychological need in this highly social species – a need that’s often not met. But dog parks can help fill that social, physical, and psychological gap by letting dogs simply be themselves. It’s something that we can all appreciate!

So I want to take a moment to thank Beneful for their ongoing commitment and support of dog parks, and also for providing many useful resources for keeping things safe whether you’re hoping to bring a dog park to your community or simply want to be a responsible pet owner when you take your pooch to your neighborhood bark park!

I’m sharing their resources, written by my friend and colleague Arden Moore, as well as some from my daughter, trainer Mikkel Becker, so you can decide whether dog parks are right for your dog and your community, and keep things safe and fun if they are:

Dog Park Etiquette

Dog Parks: Are They For Everyone?

Dog Park Dos and Don’ts

Teaching Your Dog to Enter a Dog Park Calmly

Dog Park Safety and First Aid Tips

Small Dog Safety at the Dog Park

Note: I am currently working with Purina on a number of commercial projects, for which I am receiving compensation.