Mutt Manners: Guidelines to keeping your local dog park paws-itive

From great danes to dachshunds and every pooch in between, humans and dogs alike can’t resist the excitement a dog park brings.

Earlier this year, Buda opened its new dog park located on Sportsplex Drive.

As more and more people look to visit the new park, following some helpful tips can ensure the experience is a memorable and safe one.

Kristin Mitchell, manager at Big Oak Kennels in Buda, said one of the first things to do prior to going to the dog park is ensuring dogs are up to date on vaccinations.

Keeping an eye on other dogs and their vaccination tags is also an important factor, Mitchell said. Dogs will have different colored tags on their collar that designate what they have been vaccinated for.Dog photos for Echo

But before you walk in and let a dog loose, Mitchell said initially keeping a dog on a leash will help gauge how social it is to the situation.

Tony Delgado, co-owner of the Ruff Ranch in Buda, said doing so would allow all dogs to walk around and greet each other.

“Any new dog coming in attracts a lot of attention,” Delgado said. “It lets the dogs greet them and smell each other and be calm.”

During that time, Delgado said owners should hold the leash in a relaxed manner. Holding a leash in a tense state could cause the dogs to be tense themselves, which he said is a “recipe for a misunderstanding.”

Mitchell said taking a glance at the size of the dogs in the park before letting a dog loose is also an important factor.

“You don’t want to feel they are put in a scenario that one could overpower another one,” Mitchell said.

Once loose, both Mitchell and Delgado said dog owners should keep an eye on their pets. Mitchell said being aware of body language, such as a dog trembling and having its tail between its legs, or hair standing on end are a few traits to keep an eye out for.

Owners should also recognize when their dog may be too aggressive as well. Delgado said dog owners should avoid adding toys or food as it could cause tension. He said dog owners should exit the situation and observe from a distance, allowing dogs to interact with others.

“Removing owners a bit from the proximity of dogs makes their reactions more normal,” Delgado said.

But overreaction from pet owners can also be problematic as well, Delgado said. An owner who may overreact to their dog’s behavior too much could make their pet more wary or fearful, he said.

“Owners should sit back and watch and simply recognize when something more serious may be brewing,” Delgado said.

While owners should be cautious, having a good dog park is a positive as well for area dog owners.

“It’s a good thing and one more positive to add to Buda,” she said. “It’s definitely a positive feeling to have it here.”

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