A day at the Play Session is like a dozen walks on a leash in terms of physical and mental benefits for your dog.
They get the chance to get off-leash and run around and play with other dogs. It keeps their weight down and their muscle tone up. It keeps them social.
Some dogs will have no desire to play, yet will love to sniff all the bushes and trees; other dogs will be thrilled to race another dog from one end of the park to the other. Both of these dogs can benefit from the Play Session – they just enjoy it in different way!
If you take the time to be an informed dog owner, you will be able to judge for yourself if the situation you and your dog are in is a good situation – so, have fun at the Play Sessions and get yourself a pooper scooper!
- Keep your Dog on the lead while approaching the OFF-lead play area.
- Pause before you enter If there are 20 dogs swarming the gates or if there’s a scuffle going on, this isn't the time to barge in. A pause will also allow other dogs to get used to yours and not get hyper when he does come in.
- Once you enter take your dog off the lead straight away. The other dogs will want to come and say hello and being off the lead will give your dog the space it needs.
- Pay attention. Once inside, it's your job to keep an eye out for the dogs, not other humans. Dog Play sessions are really awesome, but they're not about human socialization, always know where your four-legged friend is and what he’s doing. If you see trouble brewing, call him back right away. Supervise dogs when they are playing and interrupt any rough play.
- Read the signals. Not only should your dog play well with others if you plan to take him to the play session -- you need to be able to read canine behaviour too. Dogs at play have relaxed ears, wagging tails, and may "play bow" with their front end down to the ground. While growling and noise is common in play, snarling with lips curled back, staring or intently glaring, lunging and snapping and stiff body language isn’t. If you see these warning signs, redirect the dog with distractions such as clapping or loud noises.
- Observe your dogs in the play session at all times to monitor its interactions with the other dogs and watch for any potential health or behaviour problems.
- Be willing to leave a dog play session if you feel that your dog is either being a bully, being bullied, the play is getting too rough or your dog is just not having fun.
- Make sure your dog is not being bullied or learning bad manners from the other dogs. If you are unsure come out of the play session and find a staff member to ask and help.
- Make sure your dog is up-to-date on his/her vaccinations.
- Consult your veterinarian about your dog’s overall health before going to a dog play session.
- Clean up after your dog always pick up your dogs poop - children use the play areas too.
- Teach your pal to come to you when called. Use a word or phrase he’s not likely to hear at the park. Reward him with extra-special praise during training.
- Take your dog’s temperament into consideration and don’t assume s/he’s having a good time – watch your dog’s demeanor and make an informed judgment about how happy s/he is to be there.
- Know what to do if a fight breaks out. Despite your best efforts, it can happen. Make sure you're ready.
- Give it a moment. Most doggie duels end as quickly as they started.
- If they go at it for more than a few seconds, try to squirt them with a hose or water pistol, or you can also clap or make a loud noise. Don't step in with your hands or body.
- If they’re still fighting after about 3 seconds, you and the other owner should approach the dogs from the rear. Gently grab their back legs at the top of the leg and lift them up like a wheelbarrow then start moving back. Don't reach for the collar. Your dog could bite you by reflex.
- Know when to go. Basic good manners should help you avoid most problems. A little extra effort on your part will help.
- Bring or use toys in the play sessions.
- Use treats when other dogs are nearby.
- Allow a dog to bully another.
- Crowd around one area, spread out and try to walk around the field to keep your dogs moving as well.
- Worry if some dogs don’t play with other dogs.
- Allow humping.
- Allow food for humans.
- Bring female dogs in heat/season- please wait at least 4 weeks from the start of the season.
- Take your dog to a dog play session if you already know they have a behaviour issue that could be made worse by putting them in a situation they are not comfortable in.
- Keep your dog in a play session when it is not happy.
- Bring more than 2 dogs per handler.