Off- leash dog parks A treat for all boat dogs In our society, dogs are an important part of the family unit. People enjoy their company and want them to be happy. Nowhere do we see this more than on the high seas. Dogs are an integral part of what makes sailing and motor boating so fun. That being said, dogs need a bit more from their owners than a chew toy and an occasional run around the weather deck. An off leash dog park fits the bill. It gives Woofie an opportunity to be free of a leash, the confines a boat presents, an opportunity to be able to roam in a large area instead of being confined to a small enclosure and it also gives it an opportunity to socialize with other dogs. The Association of Pet Dog Trainers will tell you that some dog parks are not suitable for some dogs, and some dogs should not be taken to dog parks. In most cases, however, your pet will be perfectly safe in a dog park, it will enjoy the visit, and you will as well. An off-leash dog park at each port stop is usually easy to find by Googling “Dog Park.” They are often walking distance from most marinas. If not, go ahead and spring for an Uber or local taxi ride. Yes, many transportation services allow dogs to accompany owners. Just warn the dispatch person up front. Here’s what the best dog parks have to offer. One acre or more with perimeter fencing. Shade structures. Water. Separate, but equal areas for small and large breeds. Trash receptacles and dog waste mitts. Benches for the owners where they can monitor playtime and meet new friends of their own. Five reasons why visiting a dog park in port is good for your doggie traveler (and you) Taking a Break – Taking a break from your daily routine is beneficial, especially as it relates to getting off the boat and stretching out. Letting Fido run free is pure exhilaration. Visiting the park not only gets both of you off the boat, but it gives you a break from doing the same thing day in and day out. Change is good. No Leash – This only benefits the dog—right? Walking or running without having a dog on the other end of a leash gives both of you freedom of movement. Some dogs walk nicely, some like to pull on the leash, and some never learn not to continuously try to follow their noses. Your dog is free of the leash and so are you. Socializing – Your dog will hopefully learn to socialize with other dogs. This can be a great benefit to both you and your pet especially if your pets is acting afraid of people or of other dogs, or it is overly protective or aggressive. One of the first things obedience classes stress is socializing. Watch Your Pet Play – Watching your pet having a good time is good for you, if for no other reason than it makes you happy. Lessons Learned – One of the things you learn on your first visit to a dog park is how little control you actually have over your pet. It will be far less control than you thought. You are basically letting your dog discover life on their own. This can either be liberating or terrifying. Your dog may prefer the company of other dogs to sticking with you. It’s all fine. That’s what dog parks are for. In some ways, a dog park is an etiquette school for both of you.