Taking your dog to summer activities -- dog parks, neighborhoods and farmers’ markets -- can be fun, but it also increases the potential for inter-species conflict. Learning to “think like a dog” and anticipate behavior can go a long way toward creating happy encounters!
To the delight of many Des Moines metro-area dog families, Altoona, Ankeny, Des Moines, Indianola, West Des Moines and Runnells all have off-leash dog parks. While they can be a wonderful social environment for people and dogs, many canines are under-socialized and ill-prepared for a dog park visit.
Knowing your dog and understanding canine communication are key to a positive dog park experience. Can you recognize whether your dog is having fun, being threatened or is the playground bully? Do you know how to identify appropriate and inappropriate greeting behavior; how to translate body language and calming signals; and do you pay attention during play to prevent problems before they may occur?
To help ensure canine fun and games, Canine Craze has a new Dog Park Behavior education series on May 19 to address these issues. This program is highly recommended for dog park enthusiasts, anyone with a dog, or those wanting to learn more!
We’ve all heard about well-intentioned children getting bitten while attempting to hug a neighborhood dog. Unfortunately, human expressions of affection often have the opposite canine translation. "Hugging" in particular is a threatening, space-invading gesture that children should not be allowed to practice. (The family dog MAY tolerate or even welcome it among familiar people, but not casual acquaintances!)
Recognizing canine warning signals and responding appropriately can prevent dog bites. Tucking the nose, looking away and possibly retreating; stiff body posture; dilated pupils; lip licking, panting and yawning are all signs of canine discomfort. When in doubt, calmly intervene and remove the child or dog. Simply giving the dog space can help restore a neutral balance.
In the interest of public safety, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) promotes National Bite Prevention Week May 20-26.
The 2012 season kicked off May 5, and the dog debate has already begun. Whether dogs are appropriate depends on many factors – the congestion, heat, the dog’s personality, training and manners, and the owner’s ability to manage the situation to benefit the dog and other patrons.
Encouraging dogs that are well behaved sets a good example and promotes owner responsibility. Common courtesy and the importance of training and socialization cannot be underestimated.
In the end, learning to speak and think canine can help both species live in harmony – during the fun summer months and happily ever after!