OK, OK, we’re being cheeky with that headline. But there a common truth underlining this post… and that is, dog-friendly areas are not always so friendly during the holidays.
It sometimes strikes us as unfair that pet owners are required to leash their dogs, carry poop bags, dispose of all pet-related rubbish, control their animals and refrain from having their beloved fur friend anywhere near a raft of public spaces. Yet, parents can apparently let their kids run riot anywhere they please. (And before you hit the ‘back’ button in outrage, we’re all parents at the TYP team ourselves!)
Because parents don’t usually leash their children at the dog park (and nor do we), the possibility of strange little ones running up to hug your dog has never been more of a reality than in the middle of school holidays. How is Rover going to react?
To avoid any disasters at the local dog park, it’s important to train your dog to deal with children… and if you have both in your family, teaching the kids about the dog’s perspective never hurts either.
The secret is to socialise your dog with a range of children at different ages before you head out to your park at peak times. If you don’t have your own children available for training purposes, borrow a few from a neighbor or a friend! Take some time and let your dog get used to the concept of a small, clumsy human being around, and reward them with positive play or food rewards when they cope well.
If you can’t socialise your dog with kids to the point where you’re comfortable he’s not going to react badly to an impromptu hug at face-height, or an unexpected tug of the tail, you should consider leaving your dog on the leash when lots of children are around.
In the event that a particularly adventurous child is around (you know the type), you need to remain vigilant. Be ready to warn the brave child off, telling them to stay away from your dog or allow the animal time to adjust to their company. Watch your dog closely, and gauge its reaction to the intrusion of the unleashed child in dog-friendly areas.
With the right parents nearby, instruct the child how to properly pat your dog, and remind them not to pull on the dog’s ears or tail. Always keep a close eye on your dog around strange children. After all, while your dog will probably behave, you never can trust those pesky, untrained children when they’re off the leash and without their poop bags.
Do you have any hot tips for surviving a dog-friendly area when it’s overrun by families?