An easy guide to socialising a new dog at the off lead dogpark
I walk dogs for a living, so there is rarely a time when I have genuine fear at the dog park. Dog parks are supposed to be safe places where dogs can walk and have fun and socialise with other dogs and humans.
if the park is full of social dogs, this is what happens. Its the whole reason for going to the park. Sure the dog is getting exercise, but so will a block walk or treadmill do that job. The off lead experience is about creating a balanced happy dog. so what does that have to do with the dog blog today and the photo.
This is a photo of a cavalier that we met in the park today, with owners and dog walking in the opposite direction on the narrow path. Cavaliers are usually a perfect example of a meek dog. A dog bred for the lounge, and generally low maintenance. Unfortunately many owners buy these dogs thinking that all they need to do is hang around the house. But doing this for any dog will create a literally crazy dog. One that can’t relate to its own kind and will have anxiety when it does meet them.
This is what happened in before the photo.
The cavalier walked to one side of the path, my pack of social dogs rushed forward to meeting it, sensing that it was no threat. They wanted to sniff and socialise with it, causing no mental or physical threat.
However this dog appears to be very new to parks, or still harbouring a fairly strong anxiety, because it walked to the tree for protection, when all the dogs wanted to do was sniff him. You can see the wide eyes of concern (not necessarily fear).
Lesser skilled owners would have immediately swept the dog up in their arms and reinforced its fear, making it lose self confidence and consider all future approaching dogs a thing that the owner needs to deal with, not itself.
The concept of the off lead walk is that eventually this cavalier should work out that the social dogs are not to be feared and it too can approach them and sniff them. That it will then be just doing natural things in the park, and can go home satisfied.
This intervening period is stressful for the owners and dog, but that is just where this dog is at. it didnt try to run away and didnt try to fight the other dogs, it was not completely petrified, so it is well on the way to becoming a social and complete dog.
Just like the other dogs surrounding it in the photo, it will hopefully consider the park an exciting experience to be savoured 100% .
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