Self-Assessment: Will my dog be a safe and happy member of Paws4ever’s Dog Park and Nature Trails?
To be eligible for membership, all dogs must be at least 7 months old and must be immunized against rabies, distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis (adenovirus), canine parainfluenza, and bordetella.
We strongly recommend completing at least one private lesson or group class in our Dog Training Program before joining the park. Paws4ever offers Puppy Social Manners classes, Family Dog Manners classes, and private lessons to help dogs of all ages to learn good manners, play more appropriately, and connect with their owners. These skills make dog park visits safer and more fun for everyone!
This self-assessment can help you to determine whether your dog is a good fit for membership. Some dogs thrive in the dog park environment, while others may need different forms of enrichment more suited to their manners, play style, and personality. If park membership isn’t the right fit for your dog, don’t worry – every dog is different! The Paws4ever Dog Training Program offers a variety of additional opportunities for you and your dog to have fun together.
How are my dog’s listening skills?
In the dog park environment, reliability is key. Does your dog quickly follow your commands? Does your dog come immediately when called? Before joining the dog park or nature trail, you should be able to trust that your dog will respond quickly, even if there are distractions like other dogs and squirrels. If you and your dog need a little more practice with these skills, sign up for a Family Dog Manners class or private lesson and we can help you get ready!
Does my dog like meeting new friends?
In the dog park, there will be new people and unfamiliar dogs of all sizes (we do not have a separate section for small dogs). The dog park is a fun hangout for dogs who enjoy meeting new friends. However, it is not every dog’s cup of tea. Dogs who thrive in the park environment are dogs who are comfortable around new friends and don’t growl at them, cower from them, or jump on them.
If your dog prefers one-on-one time with you instead of meeting new friends, the Nature Trails may be a better fit for your dog. However, you should keep in mind that you may still encounter other people and dogs while on the trails.
If you’re not quite sure about your dog’s social behavior among strangers, you will benefit from attending a 90 minute Paws4ever private behavioral lesson with assessment with one of our certified professional trainers prior to signing up for the dog park.
Has my dog had positive experiences playing with a variety of unfamiliar dogs?
If your dog has never played with dogs that don’t live in the same house, you may want to consider bringing your dog to a group training class before joining the Dog Park to see how they interact with other dogs present, and to help you be more prepared for off-leash reliability.
If your dog has played with unfamiliar dogs, how did it go? Think about your dog’s body language during the experience – were they relaxed and happy the whole time? Was your dog polite to the other dogs? Appropriate play is reciprocal in nature – did your dog take turns chasing and being chased? Were the dogs able to take breaks together?
What’s my dog’s play style?
Enthusiasm at playtime can be perfectly fun and appropriate, but over-the-top energy, bullying behaviors, or overly rough play may lead to dangerous conflicts in the park. There will be dogs of all sizes and energy levels in the dog park, so your dog should be able to navigate a variety of play scenarios. Consider how rough your dog plays as well as your ability to catch and calm your dog if a conflict occurs. If you are unsure whether your dog’s play style is a safe and appropriate match for the Dog Park, we can help! A 90 minute Paws4ever private behavioral lesson with behavior assessment would be a great first step.
How does my dog walk on a leash?
Though the Dog Park is off-leash, you will need to walk your dog on leash from your car to the park, and on the Nature Trails at all times. No prong, slip, shock, electronic stimulus, choke, or pinch style collars are allowed at Paws4ever. Fixed length leashes are preferred, and any retractable leashes must be locked at all times and kept at a length less than 8 feet. If your dog needs a little help with polite leash walking, you may want to take a private lesson or Family Dog Manners class before joining.