OK we know how this sounds but just stay with us here. Although it may seem odd, visiting a designated dog park despite not actually owing a dog can be beneficial for many reasons! So let down your walls, push past the insecurity of a dogless existence and allow us to shed some light on the subject.
Find the right dog for you
If you are looking to adopt a pup of your own, observing first-hand how owners interact with dogs of different sizes, breeds, and energy levels can be an extremely useful tool. Dog-watching in the most literal sense, while completely subjective can give a person a general sense of the pros and cons in each of these categories, will shed some light on what you are willing and able to tackle, and may open your mind to some new criteria when it comes to your search. Remember to keep an open mind, but also remain realistic in your endeavors.
Survey the regulars
While we don’t suggest literally conducting a survey among the parks attendees, striking up a light conversation with those around you, may be to your advantage. Begin by introducing yourself as a prospective first-time dog owner, and chances are, people will be crawling over each other to convert you to the dark side – or the park side, in this case! Of course, these people likely want to share a vast wealth of knowledge with you – but make sure to keep it brief. No one likes to be badgered while they are trying to relax after all!
Network and make friends
Though the objective of a dog park is to allow your dog to play and socialize, if you have already begun a conversation with someone around you, and their dog is off having a blast, then feel free to mingle. Like any public place however, there may be some who are just not willing to stop and chat. No worries! But if you do happen to make a connection with someone who regularly attends the park, it will be just that much more fun to return once you have adopted your pooch!
Look but don’t touch
Like people, dogs learn to socialize in many different ways and a general rule of thumb is never to approach an unknown dog without permission. Dogs at a leash-free park are often in play-mode, and are not interested in meeting new people so it is necessary to remember that attending a place like this is not an open invitation to play with other people’s dogs. If this is your goal, then you are better off volunteering at a shelter where dogs need to be walked on a daily basis.
Scope out the sitch
A benefit to scoping out a local dog park before adopting your dog is getting to know any and all potential dangers of the park from the people who frequent it! Factors such as surrounding wildlife, namely birds of prey and other animals such as coyotes or cougars are often in play so doing research on the area is recommended. Upon further investigation other variables such as dogs or owners that you may want to avoid in the future will too present themselves in time.
Stay in the loop
Most, if not all dog parks will have a bulletin board, or an equivalent to one, in order to post information offered or requested by like-minded people! Find out what events are happening, who the most recommended groomers and dog walkers are, or even the location of some lesser-known parks are simply by taking a gander. Taking a photo of such information with your phone will keep you up to date once you have adopted the new love of your life. How handy is that?
Stop and smile
Visiting a leash-free dog park does not necessarily mean that you are now ready to own a dog. Many people who are afforded time off work during a lunch period will often opt to take a stroll down to the nearest park to eat their lunch, for example. Of course, we don’t suggest eating around a pack of strange dogs, but sitting at a picnic table and watching dogs play happily from afar is sure to warm your heart and bring a smile to your face. Science tells us that pets help us live longer so an hour of dog watching per day is sure to amount to something, right? It sure beats a cubical that’s for certain!
Get over your fear
Another way in which attending a dog park can be beneficial to your health, is to rid yourself of a phobia, be it rational or otherwise. Granted, if you are scared of canines it is not recommended to enter the dog park by any means, nor is it expected of you. However, watching these beautiful creatures from a distance on a consistent basis may ease your mind from a safely guarded area. So if you are fearful of dogs, put on your favorite outfit to boost your confidence, bring a friend to feel some familiar comfort and face your fears! We believe in you.