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Is Your Dog Ready to Visit a Dog Park?
There’s nothing like a wide-open space to help us feel alive and free, don’t you agree? It seems logical that your dog would also. However, a dog park is not appropriate for all dogs, and can make behavior problems worse. On one hand, having enough exercise can alleviate your dog’s anxiety, help eliminate negative behaviors like chewing and keep your dog at a healthy weight so he or she can enjoy a long life. On the other, many dogs dislike being rushed by strange dogs, particularly as they mature. In fact, most dogs prefer to play with a familiar friend or two versus many strange dogs. For those dogs, a dog park full of dogs running and body slamming can spell trouble. Just like some people enjoy loud parties and crowds, many people prefer quiet dinners with a few friends. Both are normal. If you would like to visit a dog park with your dog, think about your dog’s temperament and behavior. If your dog has any of these traits, they are not a good fit for attending a dog park.
If your dog seems like a good fit for a dog park, then check out the park first on your own. Do the other dog owners seem to have good control of their dogs? Are there fearful, reactive or even aggressive dogs present? When are the most crowded or least crowded times?
Before you head out to visit a dog park with your dog for the first time, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind. While most dog parks have plenty of room for running and romping, there is certain etiquette you should know before setting out. To keep your dog and other dogs safe and happy, pay heed to my list of dos and don’ts for the dog park. A few of my top reminders include:
So, if you’re ready for a day of fun with your four-legged pal, here are some wonderful dog parks in the Northern Virginia area. Check them out and allow your dog the glorious feeling of freedom and socialization!
Winchester Dog Park
This lovely dog park is available to members only, but visit their website to learn how to affordably join. You will need a dog license and your dog’s current vaccination records. The park features year-round, seven-day-a-week hours and separate play areas for large and small dogs. It is located in Jim Barnett Park.
Prince Williams County Dog Park
The Prince William County Dog Park is located on the grounds of the county animal shelter. It is open daily from sunrise to dusk, and is open to the public. There is no charge to bring your dogs to the park, although the Prince William Humane Society gratefully accepts donations to help cover operations and maintenance costs. Please see the website for their rules and regulations.
Leesburg Dog Park
The Leesburg Dog Park is located in Loudon County within the lovely Olde Izaak Walton Park. It only accepts dogs 25 pounds and under, so families with large dogs will have to look elsewhere for fun. Small dog families, visit the website for more information.
Are you concerned about your dog’s behavior in the park? Maybe it’s time for some dog training. Take a peek at our variety of programs, and contact us for more information.
Lisa Marino, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP, PMCT, has taken her varied teaching experiences and applied them to helping owners understand and train their beloved four-legged family members. She has more than four years’ experience leading group dog training classes at Best Paw Forward in Hartland, WI, and opened Head of the Class Dog Training LLC in Winchester, VA in 2012, where she conducts group classes and private lessons, as well as helps owners to modify their dogs' problem behaviors.
Lisa earned her CPDT-KA in 2012, is a 2015 graduate of the prestigious Karen Pryor Academy and is a Pat Miller Certified Trainer.She has four registered therapy dogs and is a Pet Partner Therapy Team Evaluator and a member of HOPE AACR. As a former middle school teacher, she works well with families and children and does school presentations on various dog related topics.