A primer about appropriate canine (and human) behavior during public playtime.
The dog park has become the site of much folklore, community policing, and sociological interest in America. In this debut work, Lee readily admits that she’s not an expert on animal training, so she bases her recommendations on many years of active participation and keen observation in the dog park area reserved for larger animals. Much confusion stems from human misperceptions of canine behavior, Lee says, and she seeks to set the record straight. “Each time you go is a new experience, because no two days there are ever alike,” she advises from the outset. “The mix of dogs and people are never the same, and you can never anticipate what might happen.” Although this may strike some new dog owners as somewhat alarming, the author provides general rules and strategies so that readers will feel prepared for all contingencies. Chapters specifically delve into such subjects as “Puppies,” “Children at the Dog Park,” “Neutering,” “Balls and Personal Toys,” “Body Language,” and “Prejudices.” One of the author’s salient recommendations is to take one’s dog for a walk before hitting the park so that the pet expends some excess energy in advance. Lee also urges owners to note and avoid the specific times when professional dog walkers bring large packs, pointing out that it’s virtually impossible for one person to keep tabs on so many dogs and that, logically, they’re more likely to get into trouble under such circumstances. As an added bonus, Lee sometimes adopts the voice of Buster, her 60-pound American Staffordshire terrier mix, to offer a dog’s unique perspective on the matters at hand; she crafts an introduction and conclusion as her pet, as well as one of the middle chapters. Even grizzled dog park veterans who’ve seen it all may appreciate this refresher course, and all dog lovers will enjoy Lee’s anecdotes, which she uses to illustrate specific points. Overall, she writes in a clear, accessible style and approaches her subject matter with humor in the hope that everyone will experience fun and safe adventures.
A handy, easy-to-read manual, particularly for neophyte pet owners in urban areas, where dog parks are essential for exercise and socialization.