Before I got Evie I dreamed of taking my companion to the dog park down the street from me. However, I was warned by several people that it was dangerous, dirty, and flea ridden; and I was disappointed. Once Evie had all her shots I was determined to give it a try, but was sure to take some precautions. We've been several times now and all has been well, so I thought I'd share some tips:
- Stand outside the fence with your companion before going in. Let him/her get used to the energy. Perhaps interact with some dogs as they go in and out.
- Check out the dogs that are inside before going in. Do they look friendly? Are their owners watching them?
- When you first go inside, keep your companion on a leash and let them get used to being inside. Having a harness is helpful, especially if you need to quickly pull them away from another dog.
- Once you both feel comfortable, take off the leash. Stand near your companion as (s)he interacts and plays. When you feel comfortable sitting down on a bench, make sure (s)he knows where you are.
- Always make sure to watch your dog and be ready to step in if you see a conflict. However, be careful not to get hurt yourself.
- Be courteous and pick up after your dog. My local dog park has trash bins and scoopers inside, but bringing biodegradable bags is the next best thing.
- Your companion will likely get dirty and this is just part of going to a dog park. Give him/her a quick wipe off when you get home (avoid bathing too often because it dries up their skin). Since the inside of her ears gather a lot of dirt, I use an all natural ear wash called Vet's Best
- Flea prevention can be a little tricky, especially if you're trying to go all natural. So far, by keeping Evie clean, vacuuming my home, and using a good natural spray - we've avoided a flea problem. I was recommended J&J's Natural Flea & Tick Potion from Healthy Spot, and so far it's working well. I also bathe Evie in a organic lavender shampoo from Olive, and occasionally add small amounts of garlic to her food.