Dog Park Behaviour

Leroy loves to go to a particular dog park that I don’t like. I always grimace as I walk in the gate but Leroy smiles from ear to ear. I like to call the dog park the “Dirt Bowl”. There is only one undercover seating area which has an uncomfortable atmosphere around it and often its the unfriendly regulars who have claimed the bench and table. The dogs always fight to climb up onto the table to have the top dog position in the park and there is always a certain tension of a dog fight about to happen.

Needless to say I don’t like the people there and I often find the dogs to be manic, unfocused, aggressive and bored.
One day I rode down to the Dust Bowl with Leroy and rode around the small inside boundary track of the park. I had all the dogs following me and all the owners looking at me bewildered while they sat on their butts. All the dogs loved it and they ran and ran and for a little while the dogs had some sort of purpose in the park other than to hang around their seated owners and fight for the top dog position on the table.

Most of the dogs in the “ Dust Bowl” are bored and I believe dogs can be become bored with dog parks. They may not be on their dog lead but the dog park is just like a backyard only a bit bigger sometimes. I simply don’t think it’s enough stimulation for a back yard dog to go to a small dog park for an hour or less a couple of times per week with an owner who does not interact with it nor pay the dog any attention. Is it always held close to you so you can grab the dog collar if it seems to get too close to another dog. Yes the dog is getting out, yes it’s socialising but is it enough? I don’t think so, dogs need more than a small dog park for stimulation.

Most people consider dog games to involve a dog chasing a ball or stick but games don’t just have to involve throwing something to them to fetch, dogs need mental exercise too.

Dogs are smart and they need to exercise their intelligence. There are some great games to play with your dog that don’t really involve too much effort on our part, which is good if you don’t have a lot of time. I love to play the Where Is It game with Leroy and Madison. I simply take one of their favourite toys and hide it somewhere in the house or back yard and they just have to find it. Sometimes it can take them ages to find the toy or object but they keep searching and using their brain to find it. Now days you can buy lots of dog toys where food can be hidden and the dogs need to work out how to get the food out again and have to use their brain to work out what the best method of extraction to apply.

Simple training is a great way to mentally stimulate your dog. Teach them something other than sit, lay down or stay. Teach them to crawl on their belly or roll over. Teach them in a manner that’s fun for them to learn and of course be patient.A really easy and simple game is to put some dry food in one hand, show your dog which hand it is in, put your hands in front of them and ask them to find the food. Keep mixing which hand has the food in it and you will make their brain work to try and find the right hand with the food in it. While you do this you can also teach them to wait until you are ready for them to start to play the game.
I play a game with Leroy in the car called “Where’s the dogs”. I ask Leroy if he can see any dogs. He instantly looks around and tries to find any dogs walking or playing as we drive by. I have taught this game over time and now he will actively seek out dogs when I ask him and I can see he enjoys this observation game.

I am always making up new dog games to keep it fresh and interesting for them. I discovered they love it when I hide around the house or garden and they have to find me, it’s really simple for us but a huge amount of joy for them.

Please don’t be one of those boring dog park people who sit and ignore their dog, play some games with your dog while you are in the park, hide the ball from them, get them to find the treats in your hand or around the park.
Help your dog to learn to think and gain confidence because it’s really easy to do and you will be rewarded with a happier and more intelligent dog friend and you won’t look so boring at the dog park either.

Does your dog style stand out?

Stand Out From the Crowd with your dog

I often see a dog with a nylon rope for a dog lead – the sort of rope people use for a trailer tie down. It has numerous knots in it and I’m sure it cuts into the dogs throat when it goes for a walk because the dog likes to pull heavily on the lead.

Another dog I see has a big studded dog collar and I wonder how comfortable it would be for the dog. Surely the long studs would stick into it while it scratched itself or just be uncomfortable to properly rest it’s head on the ground because the studs are so long it would hold the neck up and out of position.

I see tatty, ripped, boring, falling apart dog leads and dog collars on dogs everywhere. My favourite off-beat dog collar was a t-shirt that needed to be used when the half chewed lead finely snapped while they were on an adventurous walk.
Little do they know they are my inspiration to change the boring dog collar culture!

I love Leroy and Madison’s dog collars being a talking point at the dog park. I mix up my dog collars and people have asked me how many I have. Being the Creative Designer for Leroy Madison I could basically have a different dog collar for every day of the week for both Leroy and Madison.

I enjoy seeing peoples reaction to the dog collars. Some admire from afar and others have to get in for a closer look, almost as though they can’t believe that a dog collar could be so beautiful.

I am proud to say Leroy Madison has started a quiet revolution in the dog park. I’m seeing more and more of our designs on dogs. I often walk into a conversation at the dog park about the lovely dog collars the dog owners have. I smile quietly to myself and know the boring dog collar culture is finally starting to change. Bring it on I say! A world of beuatifully designed high quality pet products that nurture our pets and match our lifestyle choices.

Dogs help breakdown human barriers

Dog Interactions helping us to breakdown those shy human barriers.

In the distance I could see the most beautiful rich black and fluffy Newfoundland, so fluffy I couldn’t see his dog collar even though he was wearing one. I went straight up to it resisting my desire to throw my arms around it and get a big *Newfi hug.
I would like to think I politely interrupted the table of eight to ask if I could pat the dog but I am sure I was more like a storm trouper and demanded instant attention.

While patting the Newfoundland I became aware of the whole table looking and smiling at me. In that moment we were all connected in admiration of such a beautiful and regal dog. I had totally interrupted their morning coffee but in that moment it was OK and a conversation started between us all. A short conversation about dogs, coffee and friends, it lasted for no more than a few minutes. I had one more pat and cheekily snuck in a “Newfi” hug, wished them a lovely day and off I went.

While walking away I thought about the interaction and how amazing it is that dogs have the ability to unite us. They do so in such an subliminal way that its easy to overlook the beauty of such interaction’s they create between us humans.
If a dog had not been at the table I definitely would not have approached them, why would I?

Dogs manage to drop the barrier between the awkwardness of the first introduction in human interaction. How often can you walk up to someone and have something instantly and obviously in common. A direct introductory topic is already there, smiling, panting at you both encouraging you to connect.
Dogs do it so simply, a happy run up to you in the dog park, inciting a look to the owner and instantly a human connection is made but not only that a connection is made to a creature who makes no judgement but offers something to you, some kindness that is hard to find but somehow it fills up the emptiness and makes us feel good.

Dogs unit us and dogs are able to remind us to interact with others. Its a good thing as life seems to be getting more isolating but the dogs are there reminding us that we are social creatures and we strive on social interactions. You’ve got to love that about dogs, I certainly do.

*Newfi Hug – Is one of the best dog hugs you can ever get. Newfoundlands are the dog versions of a bear minus the teeth and claws. Very gentle, loving dogs and hard to resist asking for a pat and hug when you see one. I wander what sort of dog collar design we could do especially for a Newfoundland. Or maybe a special dog lead that suits your tall stance.

The Dog Next Door Story

There is a lovely chocolate brown Labrador who lives next door to me. I see him very infrequently either walking with his owner or in the back of the owners car. When I say infrequently I mean perhaps once a month. I don’t think the dog next door goes for many walks.

Leroy and Madison have walks, drives, bike rides and many exciting happenings in their daily existence. They also come to work with me in the studio, so they are rarely alone in the back yard. Compared to my lonely dog neighbour they both lead very exciting lives.

For some dog owners just a pat on the head, a food bowl and the odd walk is enough for their dog. For me I like to include the dogs as much as I can in my life. I believe a stimulated and well exercised dog is a happy dog and as result I am a happy dog owner. There have been times in my life where I have come down with the flu and not been able to walk the dogs for a few days. During these times I have noticed how stir crazy the dogs get and also how their behaviour changes. They get a little naughty and they also create their own games but it only seems to result in some sort of destruction of either a pillow or soft toy.

In our busy and time poor lives it can be difficult to find the time in a day to walk the dog. I don’t believe walking is the only exercise we can do with our dogs. Dogs like to use their brain too. Dogs thinking is often overlooked and many consider just a walk in the park is enough to stimulate a dogs mind. There are many other activities you can do with your dog if you can’t get to the park, however I do believe dogs need to be walked regularly but a day here and there is almost unavoidable in our busy world.

I like playing the “where is it game”. I find an object that both the dogs like, either their ball or toy, and then I hide it. I make them sit and wait, (Madison is very sneaky at this game and will tiptoe behind me to watch where I hide it) then I give the command to them to find the object. Sometimes they find it instantly and other times it takes them a while. Both the dogs love this game and it will entertain them for hours. It seems to use up some of their energy and I love the way they have to use their brain to work out where the object is. I can also catch up on things around the house while they are busy looking and playing.

Sometimes I just the play in the backyard with the dogs and they seem to enjoy it when I spend time with them in their environment. The good old ‘throw the ball game’ is always the the best game in a frantic lifestyle. I will sometimes combine both the ‘ball throwing’ and ‘the where is it’ game, and this seems to burn off some excess energy – not as good as a walk but fun none the less.

These mentally involved games are great if you only have a little time to spare. I think the dogs feel more content after the games, human contact and attention. Ideally a walk and the games would be the best choice but sometimes just a few games and a few pats will be enough for a day but only for a day.

Dogs do need walks and they do need experience different environments. Even a quick car ride can seem like hours of activity for your dog so even if you are popping down to the shop take your dog with you. Of course on a hot day always remember to ensure they have fresh air and never leave a dog in a hot car.

Remember to make your dogs mental health and physical health a priority in you life. If you don’t have time to exercise your dog your self have a look at investing in a professional dog walker or take your dog to dog day care.
It’s unfair to leave your furry friend in a back yard for days on end. Give them some of your love and time and they will reward you twenty fold.

Creative Designer – Catherine Dorrestyn