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Should I Take My Dog to Jack Darling Dog Park?

Jack Darling Dog Park is an amazing place to take your dog. Probably the most well-known in Mississauga, and one we've all been to, even without having a dog.

It's wonderful getting to see other pet parents and their dogs have an amazing time together. Socializing, making new friends, running around, and playing. Jack Darling has everything a dog park can offer. It's up to us as pet parents to make the most of it while being safe, and as a dog trainer, I feel it's my responsibility to help share some tips that'll help you be as prepared as possible for your next Jack Darling Dog Park visit, or to any dog park for that matter.

Let's start with a quick checklist of items I recommend you bring with you!

1. A doggy water bottle. This is a must! Especially during the warm summer months. It's even a tool you can use to help strengthen your relationship with your dog.

2. A short leash. Although you will mostly be using it outside the dog park itself, it's important that it's a short and reliable leash you can trust, to help you make a quick decision and have your dog follow you promptly. Given how many cars, people, and dogs attend the park. This 5-6ft leash is one I particularly like, given that it comes with a handle, and you can also clip it to your waist, for added safety.

3. Bring with you a couple of your dog's favourite toys. Although I don't particularly recommend bringing toys inside the park because not only might you lose them, but you also don't know how other dogs will react to them. However, I do recommend bringing a toy like a tug-and-pull rope toy, for you to use at the very end of the dog park visit, to help your dog focus some of that leftover excitement of it all. If your dog is mellow and ready to hop in the car, a stuffed Kong would be ideal then too.

Now that you've got some of your key items locked and ready, let's talk about when it's best to take your dog to the Jack Darling!

Starting with your dog's health and safety, please make sure that your vet has cleared your dog for public places like trails and parks, where other dogs frequently go. Once that's out of the way, you will want to first and foremost consider that dog parks, especially one Jack Darling, which gets a lot of attention and visitors, can be quite the stimulating, distracting and overall engaging environment.

This is great because it means that your dog will have lots to do and enjoy. But before any of that, you want to make sure that both you and your dog are mentally ready. Let's take a look at what I mean by that.

1. Recall and Focus. How does your dog do in distracting environments? Does he respond to you when you call him? Or does he run away or ignore your voice? It's important to have a solid recall with your dog in place, prior to attending the dog park

2. Have you worked your way there? Especially with young dogs, it's imperative that you work your way towards any dog park with your dog. This means that you want to work on your connection with your dog, your confidence, experience and an overall positive association with the park. The experience as a whole begins the moment you park your vehicle outside the dog park. How is your dog feeling at that moment? Anxious? Overly excited? Nerous? Calm? 

This is really important to note, because you could be putting your dog in an unwanted situation, if they're being asked to go through the park's doors feeling in a way where they would rather not be there yet. What you can do to help your dog is plan multiple visits, where you focus on just walking, leash training, and even recall, outside of the dog park, at a safe distance where your dog can hear everything that's going on inside, while still choosing to give you their attention.

3. How does your dog feel about most dogs? Most pet parents see dog parks like Jack Darling as a great place for dogs to become social, and it is! However it's important to introduce social dogs to other social dogs to more easily recreate positive and social environments at the park. Not doing so can create some negative associations, unwanted behaviours, and potentially dangerous situations.

Luckily there are dog training schools and programs available to help pet parents achieve their goal of bringing their dog to the dog park, at the dog's pace and in a way where your dog is looking forward to the next visit, rather than being afraid of the idea.

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