Dog park etiquette: How to protect your pooch

Special Reports

BIRMINGHAM, Ala (WIAT) — Many dog owners enjoy taking their pets to dog parks. CBS 42 is taking a look at dog parks through Birmingham and the surrounding areas.

The Hoover Dog Park off Loch Haven Drive offers two fenced-in areas for large or small dogs. The park includes obstacle courses, and your pup can take a dip in the creek that runs through the park. 

Remy’s Dog Park at Red Mountain Park is another popular park in the Birmingham area. The park was funded by Ken Jackson and named after his late dog. You can take your dog on a hike along one of the many trails at the park, or let your dog run free with other dogs in the fenced-in areas. The park also includes a fenced-in area for special needs dogs.

Benefield Dream Dog Park at Veterans Park in Alabaster is a new and popular dog park. The park is made of turfgrass and includes obstacle courses and splash pads specifically for your dog. 

Check out the list of dog parks in and around Birmingham at the bottom of the article.

CBS 42 spoke with a licensed dog trainer and owner at Love Them Train Them, Rebecca Mason, about dog park safety. Mason says you need to know your dog’s play style before taking them to a dog park.

“Observing them with dogs that they already know to know if they’re a rough player, do they like to jump on each other, are they more of a polite player with lots of play bows,” said Mason.

Mason says you can observe your dogs temperament around other dogs by allowing them to play with a friends dog who is of similar size and friendly. Mason says if your dog plays well with a few dogs you can transition them to a dog park. 

“I think it’s really important for dog owners to educate themselves about canine body language so they know how to read their dog and read other dogs,” said Mason. “Especially scanning the park before you go in to make sure play style of the dogs in the park matches your dogs play style. Because not every dog likes to play the same way, and it can escalate if it doesn’t go well.”

Mason says it is important to know signs of aggression for the safety of everyone’s pets.

 “Sudden changes in body language, shifts of the weight. Changes from a relaxed, lose, happy, smiling lose body, to kind of more intense, or freezing. That’s not good, and you need to get them out of there.” said Mason.

Dog owners should intervene if they notice signs of aggression.

“It’s really important to redirect your dogs if they become overstimulated and play a little too rough,” said Mason. “Even though it’s unintended and they’re just having fun, it can easily escalate. So calling your dog away, making sure you have a really good recall so that your dog will come away from the other dog, or just physically kind of removing them, leaving the park for a bit.”

Mason says follow all rules of the dark park, including separating large dogs from small dogs.

“It’s really important that the small dogs play on their side and the big dogs on their side, for the safety of both dogs,” said Mason. “Some small dogs will become very threatened from a large dog getting in their space leaning over them. Even if they’re just trying to have fun and play. Because they are much bigger. They may not have experience with large dogs. They may have only met small dogs before and that can be a scary new thing. For large dogs, some of them are triggered and want to chase small dogs. And they can accidentally injure them just in play because they’re so much bigger.”

Mason says exercise your dogs before taking them to the park, and do not play too long so they do not get overstimulated. Always supervise your dog. If you would like to learn more from Rebecca Mason or seek professional help training your dog, click here.

Dog parks in the area:

Remy’s Dog Park 
2011 Frankfurt Dr
Birmingham, AL 35211

Geroge Ward Park 
1901 Greensprings Ave S
Birmingham, AL 35209

Loch Haven/Hoover Dog Park 
3469 Loch Haven Dr
Hoover, AL 35216

Black Creek Dog Park
2408 Stouts Rd 
Fultondale, AL 35068

Cahaba Dog Park 
531 Cherokee Dr
Trussville, AL 35173

Pelham Barks & Recreation Dog Park 
2020 Pelham Park Blvd 
Pelham, AL 35214

Beneful Dream Dog Park 
7305 Hwy 119
Alabaster, AL 35007

Will May Dog Park 
5901 Watermelon Rd
Tuscaloosa, AL 35406

Heritage Park Dog Park 
1705 Lee Avenue SW
Cullman, AL 35055

James D. Martin Wildlife Park 
998 S 6th St
Gadsden, AL 35901
 

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