YOUR Springtime refresher course on using dog parks off lead
Most people who walk their dogs regularly at dog parks don't need this, but its amazing how each year even regulars can get it 'wrong'.
With spring each year a new crop of dog owners and new dogs turn up at the dog park. It is wonderful that they are getting out, but with a new dog going to the park for the first few times, you will often have socialisation issues.
if your dog has great recall, you can mostly relax if a park is well fenced. But a bigger problem is usually caused by a dog that isn't regularly exposed off lead to other dogs can get it in trouble. Most dogs that aren't 100% social will still go into either "fight or flight" syndrome when encountering another dog that is more domineering than it expects.
NOTE dominance is not bad, its just an energy. Aggression is bad in a dog park and the anxiety experienced by many non social dogs who don't understand that another dog is being social or wanting to play, can result in a fight.
Do not expect taking your non social dog to a park and telling everyone to keep clear will result in an easy and happy time. People go to the dog park to have their friendly dogs exercise and be social. Just because a dog doesn't have 100% recall does not mean that its not friendly or a valuable player in the park. It should be the responsibility of the owner with a non social dog on lead to take all safety precautions, and expect other dogs to be curious to visit their dog.
Big tip, if your dog is not red zone, but is slightly anxious with other dogs, you can bring a strong lead, and use a bite muzzle until your dog gets used to the park. A bark muzzle (soft velcro material) is not a full bite muzzle (cage).
DOGS NEED WATER IN SPRINGEven as the temperature heats up slightly dogs thirst for water increases dramatically. Even if you regularly walk the park, remember to make more frequent water stops for your dog in spring
Your dog may also get allergies in spring and might benefit from more frequent washing with mild dog shampoo, or specific anti histamines
DOGS die in cars with windows wound up
You will see plenty of these stories on facebook but its easy to forget sometimes how long you are going to be away from your car. Ideally don't have your dog in your car during hotter days, but if you have to, wind those windows down!
DOGS NEED TO AVOID SNAKES
Most snakes are not aggressive towards larger animals, but coming out of hibernation they are very hungry and have full venom. Walking earlier in the morning and staying away from areas with a lot of bush makes sense for dog walks in spring and summer.
You cant guarantee that you will not see a snake this season even if you abide by all of the rules but remember, that taking your dogs to areas less cluttered by weeds and in cooler temps reduces the likelihood. The trade off is natural dog parks with trees and some weeds, and perfectly manicured parks with NO shade.
Good luck with your spring walks, regulars and newbie owners alike !