Dog Park & Dog Daycare Safety Starts with YOU

There are several variables that make up a great dog daycare or a fantastic dog park.  However, there's really only one variable that is completely under your control as an individual dog owner.  Regardless of the daycare or dog park quality, the decision to bring your dog into the mix is up to you.

If you know that your dog's social skills are questionable, it doesn't matter how great the dog park is before you get there, it is going to be less so when your dog arrives.  If your dog doesn't have a reliable recall from playing with other dogs, then you are going to be helpless in controlling your dog's behavior in a play environment.

It isn't fair to other dogs and owners to walk into a dog park not knowing how your dog will do, crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.  THAT is how problems arise.  It is also unfair to send your dog to a dog daycare for an evaluation with the same kind of wishful thinking.

I believe it is the dog owner's responsibility to know if their dog is appropriate for a dog park or dog daycare BEFORE the dog ever enters either.  These are not the right places to fix socialization issues!  Also, if you can't control your dog off-leash in your own backyard, you don't have a chance controlling her off-leash in the presence of other dogs.

Before you go to a dog park or enroll your dog in daycare, you need to know that your dog is friendly with other dogs and people.  You must have installed a reliable recall, sit and stay with distractions.  You must be sure that your dog has learned good bite inhibition.  If you are not in such a position, you need to find alternative socialization outlets for your dog.

I would strongly suggest that dog owners meet with a Certified Pet Dog Trainer to learn more about dog play and evaluate their dog's appropriateness for group play.  You'll also find great information in the book Dog Park Safety by Cheryl Smith.