New dog park opening pushed back
Oakland County Parks and Recreation will open its third dog park in the county next Tuesday, July 6.
Called Red Oaks Dog Park, the fenced-in site is located at 31353 Dequindre Road in Madison Heights.
At 5.2 acres, the park will be the smallest of the three dog parks the county operates. Other dog parks include the 24-acre Orion Oaks Dog Park in Orion Township and the 13-acre Lyon Oaks Dog Park.
A picnic shelter and 60 parking spaces will be available at Red Oaks.
Dog parks can be great for some dogs, but bad for others. With my dog’s temperament, I’ve never taken him to a dog park and I never will. In my opinion, more people should do the same and keep their dogs out of dog parks.
Here’s some questions to ask yourself before deciding if a trip to the dog park is a good idea:
1) How much experience does your dog have around other dogs? If your dog is not well-socialized to being around other dogs, you may want to avoid dog parks. However, if your dog has some limited exposures to other dogs in the past and was friendly and sociable, the dog park may be a good way to bulk up on those all-important socialization experiences, with one caveat: walk your dog or get some good exercise in before you go. The lower your dog’s energy level, the more even-keeled it will be in such an exciting situation as a dog park.
2) Does your dog bark aggressively or fearfully, lunge at or run from other dogs? If so, your dog may react poorly in a situation off-leash with many other dogs around. An aggressive dog will create obvious problems, but a fearful dog can too. Often, a fearful dog will react aggressively when it feels threatened. Seek other methods to rehabilitate your dog’s temperament than a dog park, which can be an entirely overwhelming experience for a fearful dog. And obviously, if your dog is aggressive around other dogs, don’t take him to a dog park — he’ll terrorize the other dogs and could injure them as well.
3) Is your dog older than four months but younger than a year? Now may be a good time to introduce him to dog parks, so long as he is fully vaccinated. I recommend practicing your recall command and exercising your puppy before you go. Remember, the first experience at a dog park sets the bar for behavior. Practice good behavior from the first visit on.
4) Does your dog respond to your commands? If he or she does not, that’s something you need to work on before heading to the dog park. Use positive reward methods and remember to practice those commands in a variety of environments, including inside, outside and even on walks. The recall is especially important when at a dog park. Both during practice at home and at the park, call your dog often and reward him when he responds the way you want him to, then let him return to what he’s doing. What you don’t want to do is set the precedent that every time you call your dog and he comes to you, he gets put on a leash or taken inside. If the dog thinks his fun time ends whenever you call him to come, he’ll never come to you at the dog park.
Remember that it’s up to you, as a dog owner, to do your part and make sure your dog doesn’t ruin the dog park experience for other dogs and their owners. Use common sense when deciding whether a trip to the dog park is a good idea. If your dog has a history of not getting along with other dogs, the chances are slim to none that his behavior will be any better at a dog park. In fact, it will probably be worse and could even be dangerous to other dogs and their owners.
Another thing to think about — is the dog park really a good place for your kids? If you have small children, keep in mind that you never know what type of dogs you’ll encounter at the park. Make sure your children understand that it is not OK to approach a dog unless you have asked permission of its owner. Be sure you can supervise your children and keep them safe while you’re there.
Oakland County has some posted rules about dog parks too, like limiting the number of dogs per visitor to two, requiring all dogs to be up to date on vaccines and responsive to voice commands from their owners. Dogs in heat are not allowed and neither are dogs younger than four months. For the full rules, click here.