Friday, April 19, 2013

Dog Park Goes Digital: iPhone App for Taking Your Dog to the Park

With summer fast approaching, everyone wants to get outside with their four-legged friend. The dog park can be an enticing place, a wide open area where your dog is free to play off leash and with other dogs. But the dog park can also be a place for concern, where different dogs with different personalities come together with little to no supervision. By preparing with the necessary tools, however, you can set your dog up for success in this situation.

One great tool is an iPhone app launched and created by well known dog trainer and shelter advocate Sue Sternberg called Dog Park Assistant. The app is designed to help control the park environment that you have introduced to your dog. It allows you to better understand your dog’s behavior and play signals by breaking down specific play types, so you can see what category your dog falls into. It also points out behaviors that you as a dog owner should be following while at the dog park in order to ensure the safety of you, your dog and others at the park.

Before going to a park, you can set up a profile for your dog on the app. This will include their breed, age and size as well as their play type. When you get to the park you can check in, similar to how you would check in on an app like Foursquare or Facebook. This lets the app know that you are at the park. After a few minutes, you will start receiving push notifications to your phone in order to make sure that you are paying attention and staying focused on your dog. One of the major issues at dog parks is that owners treat them as socialization events for themselves. They meet new people and talk, completely disregarding their dogs. While there is nothing wrong with getting to know other dog owners, remember that you are bringing your dog to the park to socialize them, therefore your undivided attention should be on your pooch.

The app will also show you a variety of behaviors that may be encountered at the dog park, broken down into different behavioral threat levels, with the highest levels labeled as red alerts. Every behavior includes photos, a detailed description and a video in order to help you better assess your dog’s behavior. Do your homework before you go and read up on red alert behaviors, so when spotted, you can quickly break up play before things get out of hand.

Navigating dog parks can be tricky, and poorly managed parks can be dangerous to your dog. Professionally supervised play is always recommended, as it includes individuals who have been trained to read dog behavior and know how to handle all dog play situations. Morris K9 Campus offers supervised daycare Monday through Friday; call to schedule your dog a free evaluation today! 

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