Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Dog Park at Chesapeake City Park

As I mentioned in a previous post, my dog Elvis and I have started going to a local dog park at Chesapeake City Park. Elvis enjoyed his visit, and I plan to take him back.

Elvis the Walker Hound at the dog park

The park has several features I like. It is a large space, so dogs have room to spread out and not get too crowded. It gives Elvis plenty of room to roam around, to run, to sniff everything, and to mark the place up with urine, a favorite dog activity. Humans like their email, but dogs love their  "pee-mail."

The park has reasonable rules that are posted: no females in heat, no intact males over one year old, no food in the park, dogs must be off-leash and vaccinated, no digging, no young children, poop must be picked up, they must have special tags, etc. The rules are for the safety of the dogs and their humans and to prevent fights.

Doggy water fountain
I like how the park has a separate entrance and exit, and how there are double gates to help prevent escapes. The fencing is tight to the ground to discourage escape artists. There is shade, a picnic table and a bench for the humans, and a water fountain for the dogs. There are stations that provide waste pick-up bags and lots of trash cans, so I was disappointed to see that some owners have not been picking up after their dogs as they should. There's really no excuse.

Elvis and I met some nice other dogs: two Labrador retrievers and Buddy, an elderly miniature schnauzer.


A chocolate Lab
I did some research when I got home from the park. Elvis had such a good time at the park, I felt a little guilty we didn't bring our other two dogs along. But there are online articles that explain that there are downsides to dog parks, that owners need to know about dog park etiquette, and that dog parks aren't good for all dogs. Dogs can learn to be bullies or aggressive at the parks if owners aren't careful. Other dogs find them annoying or even frightening. And while Elvis enjoyed his visit, I suspect our other two would have found it stressful.

Update on 11/10/12: I inadvertently upset some (human) patrons of the dog park today, when I insisted they round up their dogs and move them away from the entrance gate. After Elvis and I  entered, I explained that it's considered rude behavior to allow your dogs to crowd a dog as it's entering the park. That was news even to the folks who were regulars at the park. The reason is that dogs don't like to be crowded all at once, and the gate itself can lead to something called "barrier aggression," which is something we don't want our dogs to learn or practice.

For some other good Do's and Don'ts for dog parks, visit the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.

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