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Dog park etiquette, part 2, dog language

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Any time a dog is taken out into public places, which includes a walk on the sidewalk, the dog owner must be in control of the animal. It is essential that whoever is with the dog understand the language of the animal. This is especially important when taking a canine to a public exercise area.

There is an article in “Fetch Magazine” Summer 2014, Volume 11, Issue 2, about understanding what the dog is saying and brings out several points regarding dog language when visiting the dog park. The article states that it is important to know the dog’s behavior and watch for any signs of change. The dog will tell of a happy, enjoyable experience or whether the dog is afraid and not having a good time.

Dog language will let the owner know when to leash up and take a quiet walk home or whether it is okay to remain in the exercise area.

Canines have been communicating long before man entered their lives. It is important to know when dogs are aggressive, happy or afraid.

When aggressive, they will hold their ears close to their head, the eyes will either close slightly or they will have a challenging stare, they will show their teeth, the body will be tense, the tail will be straight out from the body and fluffed and they will snarl, growl or bark. Do not let a dog get to this point in the dog park. As soon as the dogs become tense intervene, leash them and take them out of the park.

When dogs are having a good time in the exercise area they will run, wag their tails, their bodies will be relaxed and they will yelp. Dogs that are afraid will cower and stay to themselves, their tails are tucked under and wag back and forth in a jerky motion. A rule to remember is that two dogs will play and three dogs mean trouble.

As long a the dogs are having fun they should be allowed to stay in the dog park, but as soon as they show signs of tenseness it is time for a calm walk home.

There are many Milwaukee County dog exercise areas and Bay View Bark offers an indoor facility. It will mean a better experience if the owner can speak dog.

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