We have a small fenced in backyard, and we take him for walks, but he doesn't get to really run or play as hard as he needs to in order to get tired. Various people told me about a dog park about 5 minutes from my house, and I finally decided to take him there and try it out. I purchased a Chuck It, threw a leash in the car and gave it a go.
In case you haven't heard of them, a Chuck It is a device that is used to throw tennis balls further than a person normally can. Basically, it elongates your arm and makes the tennis ball go a long distance for maximum run-time from your dog. The only down side is that they have to get used to the change in distance; they're looking for the ball to land about 40 yards away normally, but with this device it goes 80 to 100 yards. Once they figure it out, they are quite happy to tear off after the ball.
We arrived at the park to find a bouncy, happy young red and white Husky running around. Cato greeted us with a grin and an invitation to play. Bear wasn't quite sure what to make of this friendly, energetic dog for a few minutes, until they had properly introduced themselves. After a few minutes of checking out his surroundings, Bear began to play enthusiastically with his new friend. Cato would run as hard as he could, with Bear racing after him. They played a lot of chase, and Bear tried to herd Cato as they ran. Cato didn't seem to mind, and galloped around gleefully.
Within twenty minutes, Bear was panting and starting to slow down. We played for a bit longer, then were going to head out. Cato left before us, and then another guy came with a pure white husky. She was a bit heavy for her size, but the guy invited us to stay. He told me that she "isn't aggressive" and just wants Bear to chase her. I figured that was perfect for Bear as he greatly enjoys chasing. Within a few minutes, however, it became clear that this dog was not like Cato. She curled her lips back, exposing her fangs while she snapped at him. I yelled at her and her owner made some noises. I decided to give her another chance.
The second time she snapped at Bear, I put his leash on him and left. She didn't actually bite him, but left some saliva on his shoulders. She would play nicely for a few minutes, then spin and snap with her teeth bared. Bear put his ears back and tail down, darting away looking scared. After his great experience with Cato, I didn't want his idea of the dog park ruined by this snarly dog. Coupled with my desire to keep him from getting hurt, we quickly exited the park.
Since then, we have been back several times and had good results every time. I haven't seen that chubby white husky again, (which, if you have an overweight husky, you're doing something wrong. Those dogs LIVE to run), but we did get to see Cato again today. Other times we have gone and met new dogs, sometimes it's only us there and we play ball.
Bear now looks forward to going to the dog park almost as much as he loves going to the barn. It's something that we are going to keep going forward, getting him real exercise and socializing with other dogs.
Have you ever taken your dog to a dog park? What was your experience?