Dogs clustering and jumping up in the dog parkDog parks are fun, right? It’s a great way to get your dog out and get them socializing with other dogs. We love going and meeting other dog owners as well. It’s a great social experience for all, and a great way to exercise your dog. All of this can be true, but there are also things you want to look out for at the dog park, to make sure that your dog is having as good a time as you are.

Picking the right dog park:

The first thing to do is to make sure you are picking the right dog park for you and your dog. In Austin, TX, there are a lot to choose from. The best dog parks tend to have a lot of space, a good path to walk, and multiple sections to move into. You want to do your best not to go when the park will be at it’s busiest. Crowded parks breed more altercations. Having more room at a dog park can help prevent dogs from clustering at parks, which can lead to scuffles. If going to a less crowded park is not an option for you, being able to explore different sections of a park or a trail with your dog can help prevent the chance of an altercation occurring.

You also want to be conscious of the type of park you are going to. Sometimes, but not always, the fenced parks are attended by people who have a little less control over their dogs. It can also be possible that dog parks in college areas are frequented by dogs whose main source of exercise is the park. Both of these situations can cause more altercations between dogs.

Here are some dog parks in Austin, TX to consider when making your decision:Zilker Park

  • Lots of space for you and your dog.
  • The big green at Zilker is an off leash area.
  • It is an unfenced park, but it has tons of space for people and dogs to spread out and enjoy the incredible Austin weather.

Turkey Creek

  • This is a great off leash hiking trail in Emma Long Metropolitan Park.
  • There are plenty of places on the trail to pause and make new friends.
  • There are also water features all along the trail that your dog can play in during rest breaks on your hike.

Cedar Bark Park

  • 3 separated sections for different size dogs.
  • One is for smaller dogs and the other two are for larger dogs
  • The option to move between park sections is nice in case your dog isn’t enjoying another dog’s company very much.

DogBoy’s Private Dog Park

  • Spacious and lush park grounds maintained by DogBoy’s
  • Not crowded
  • Private Reservations and Weekend Memberships available
  • Exclusive Dog Park for DogBoy’s Clients
  • Dogs that play in the dog park have gone through an evaluation from our kennel staff

Dog Park Behaviors and Characteristics to look for:

Dog Size Matters

Dogs with sticks in the waterWhen you are watching your dog play at the park, there are a few key things to look for. Ideally, dogs should play primarily with dogs of a similar size. There are always exceptions to this rule, but this is especially important with big dogs and very small dogs.

Even the most gentle giants can experience prey drive with the right small dog. Watch your dog for fear or stress signals. Dr. Sophia Yin’s website has a great visual reference for fear in dogs. If your dog is displaying fear of other dogs, either leave the park or try and put some distance between your dog and the dog they are nervous about.

Playing “Bunny” Chase

One of the biggest problem behaviors that you can see at a dog park is when a dog becomes a “bunny”. This is when one dog, usually a small to medium size dog, starts a game of chase and becomes a “bunny”.  A lot of other dogs get interested and join in the chase, and suddenly that little dog isn’t sure how to stop the game or handle it.

The best thing, if something like this happens, is if another more confident dog can split the game and diffuse the situation. This doesn’t always happen though. If you are in this situation, this would be where you would want to move your dog to another area if you can. You can also do your best to get the chasing dogs to focus on something else, like you.

Finding the balance in dog play

The most important thing to look for at the park is give and take in the play. Ideal play means that the dogs go back and forth between each other initiating the play. If one dog is always the one initiating, it can mean that the second dog isn’t very interested in the play. You also want to see the dogs taking lots of breaks. If dogs are playing intensely, without taking breaks, it can easily escalate into a scuffle.

Let’s break it down:

So let’s look at the dog park bullet points.

  • Keep moving. If you don’t cluster as people, the dogs won’t cluster and are less likely to scuffle.
  • Watch for fearful behavior from the dogs.
  • Watch for a lot of back and forth in the play.
  • Try to go the park at quieter times.
  • Don’t rely on the dog park as your dog’s main source of exercise.

If you are nervous about attending dog parks, especially off leash parks without a fence, then contact our trainers or give us a call.




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Dogs Jumping by DogBoy’s Dog Ranch

Dogs With Sticks by Dogboy’s Dog Ranch