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MailTribune.com
  • A Walk in the (DOG) Park

  • One of the challenges of owning a dog within city limits is finding the space to give them a really good workout. Even with a yard and good intentions, many dog owners have found off-leash parks to be a great place to let their dog work off some extra energy. "We have a decent sized yard," says DJ Bransom of Medford, owner of...
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    • OFF-LEASH PARKS IN THE AREA
      In the Rogue Valley, there are two designated dog parks or off-leash parks:
      In Ashland, the Dog Park is located near Helman Street and W. Nevada Street, behind the former Ashland Greenhouses loc...
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      OFF-LEASH PARKS IN THE AREA
      In the Rogue Valley, there are two designated dog parks or off-leash parks:

      In Ashland, the Dog Park is located near Helman Street and W. Nevada Street, behind the former Ashland Greenhouses location. A two-acre fenced area, it is open from dawn to dusk each day with water and scoopers available.

      In Medford, the Bear Creek Dog Park is located at the corner of Highland Drive and Barnett Road, near I-5, exit 27. It operates from 6 am to 10:30 pm daily. Also two acres of fenced area, it has water, an oval track and shaded picnic table. Parking information for the dog park is available at www.ci.medford.or.us.

      "Within the city limits," reminds Susan Dyssegard of Ashland Parks and Recreation, "all parks are off limits to dogs." If you can't make it to the Dog Park, Ashland also provides "dog friendly parks" along the outskirts of town. Visit www.ashland.or.us and search "Dog Friendly Parks" for maps of the area.
  • One of the challenges of owning a dog within city limits is finding the space to give them a really good workout. Even with a yard and good intentions, many dog owners have found off-leash parks to be a great place to let their dog work off some extra energy. "We have a decent sized yard," says DJ Bransom of Medford, owner of Shadow, a Husky-Australian Shepherd mix, "but it's not the same at all. Even if I walked him for an hour, he'd be like, 'Is that all we're doing?'"
    Exercise and socialization are the "two things dogs don't get enough of," according to Dan Mish, owner of DDM Canine Counseling in Medford. Susan Dyssegard with Ashland Parks and Recreation agrees. Within the enclosure of an off-leash park, they can just run and run and run, she says, something a dog can't do while walking on a leash. And it lets your dog practice some of their innate skills, too.
    "It helps stimulate all those dog things," says Bransom, like smelling, running and pack life. "It's a huge release for him."
    So what should you as the owner know before you go to the dog park?
    "Basically, the dogs have to be current on their shots and be civil to other dogs," sums up Dyssegard. Nothing can spoil a good time at the dog park faster than an aggressive or confrontational dog, and owners are responsible (and liable) for their dog's actions and behavior. There can be occasional difficulties, but overall, say both Dyssegard and Bransom, a dog park is a unique setting for dogs and for owners. "People love the dog park," says Dyssegard. "It has a real community feel to it."
    Some other guidelines to consider:
    — Know your dog's temperament. "A lot of people are afraid their dogs will get overwhelmed by all the other dogs," says Bransom. "You might have to be conscious of what day you go."
    If your dog seems to be having a hard time adjusting, be prepared to leave and try again later. "If your dog shows aggression to other dogs or to people," says Mish, the dog park is not a place to let your dog off leash.
    — Give your dog time. Medford's Bear Creek Dog Park specifically asks owners to keep dogs under voice control at all times. But as Mish points out, "It's like trying to teach your kid at a toy store." A dog park is a huge distraction and even the best-behaved dog might not respond immediately. "Once a dog is running with the 'pack,'" says Mish, "it's extremely difficult to call your dog." Work on obedience at home, and then give them time to work off their energy at the park. They will be ready to return to you when they tire.
    — Focus on your dog. Don't bring young children or a group of dogs if that will distract you as the owner and increase the chance of an accident. Bransom speaks from experience, "The animal — that's their world while they are there. You don't want to get too distracted." Paying attention takes any accident out of the mix.
    — Don't bring puppies or animals with specific health concerns. Dogs under 4 months are not fully immunized and can be susceptible to parasites or viruses possibly carried by older dogs. It's also inadvisable to bring female dogs while they are in heat (estrus).
    With some practical preparations and responsible ownership, the dog park can become a favorite spot for you and your pet. "People take their dogs and let them be themselves," says Mish. "That's what's so great about a dog park."
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