Bark at the Park
Is your dog ready to attend their first public, dog friendly party? Call them “Bark at the Park,” events, or “dog friendly festivals,” but these invents not only welcome you and your dog, they encourage their presence at the event!
The annual Colorado Rockies Bark at the Park is August 13, 2019. They encourage all owners and their dogs to come out and enjoy the ball game and being outdoors and around other dogs. If the most socializing your dog gets is with family, or at your local dog park, this is a great opportunity for them to have an even greater time - but ONLY if they’re ready for it. Are they?
A dog who hasn’t been properly socialized will be miserable, angry, and dangerous to themselves and others if taken to a large public event where they will be around other dogs and strangers. If your dog hasn’t been socialized, a major public event may not be the best place to start. Even puppies and younger dogs can become overwhelmed, tired, and grouchy - just like kids and adults - when they hit their socializing limits. Know the signs your dog makes when they’re telling you they’ve had enough, and then go home so the experience stays positive for them.
Colorado Rockies Bark at the Park
While the Colorado Rockies organizers don’t have many rules, other than you must own the dog, and its rabies shots must be up to date, they do encourage dogs to be socialized - comfortable around other people and dogs.
What is Socialization?
Socializing your dog simply means training it to be comfortable, confident and secure around other dogs, people, and animals. Ideally this training begins when they’re a puppy and continues throughout their lives. But it’s not impossible to socialize a rescue, or older dog. Like all effective training it requires attention, consistency, and patience.
The good news is, dogs are naturally social animals. With opposable thumbs and typing skills they’d be a natural for Facebook or Twitter. In the wild dogs grow up and run in packs. Socialization is not only natural to them, but necessary for their survival. They learn the body language, sounds, and boundaries of the pack early and obey them, or they get chased out of the pack and die. So, your dog wants to learn the rules, wants to know how to get along with you and others. It’s hard-wired in them.
How Can I Tell if My Dog is Socialized?
It’s fairly easy to tell if a dog is well socialized or not. Signs a dog is not well socialized:
The bad news is, the more of these signs you see, the more likely your dog is not well socialized. The good news is, with time, patience, and training, you can socialize almost any dog. For difficult dogs a professional trainer may be necessary. That’s why it’s important to access an animal for socialization before it’s adopted, and to socialize your pet from the first day you get it - no matter the age.
How to Socialize Your Dog
Puppies and young dogs are easier to socialize simply because they are primed and ready to learn the ways of their “pack.” The first step is to understand that socializing must be a positive experience for them. Don’t push them beyond their comfort zone. You don’t like being shoved into fearful situations, and neither do they. Take your time and be patient. Let them explore and discover other family members at their own pace. Reward them with a treat or praise for behavior you want to see repeated.
If they hide or run away, don’t chase them down and drag them back. Do something to entice them back - either using food, treats, toys, or something that gets their attention. Reward them when they return - with praise, play, going outside, or treats.
Don’t punish unwanted behaviors. Ignore them. This is true for all ages of dogs. Two other popular ways to help socialize your dog:
It’s impossible to go into all the pros, cons, and tips and tricks on dog socialization in one article. So, I’ve created a FREE ebook you can download and review that is just on “Socializing Your Dog.”
It also contains tips for owners on how to make your dog’s trip to a public, dog-friendly event a positive one. Even for well-socialized dogs it may be overwhelming to meet numerous new dogs and strangers in an unfamiliar environment - like a ball park, city park, 5K or 10K run, or a parade. Owners tend to be excited and happy to be there with their dogs. So they often don’t recognize when their dogs have had enough. This can exhaust their dogs, and may lead some dogs to become even more fearful or aggressive.
There are things many owners don’t realize can affect their dog during these events - including:
Just like with humans, there’s nothing more fun for a well-socialized dog than a day with new friends and dogs. Not only does a positive event reenforce their socialization, it’s a great time to practice other training they may have, or recognize the need for more training!