The dog park can be great fun for you and your dog. You will be surrounded by other dog owners who share the same love for their companions, and your dog can meet great new friends! Here are some steps you can take to ensure you and your dog have both a fun and safe time at the dog park.
Dog Park Safety Tips
1. Know Your Dog
Be aware of your dog’s behavior at all times. Dogs are dogs. Some like to play rough, others don’t like to be bothered, but most enjoy the company of other dogs. If you know your pup isn’t so friendly with other dogs, maybe a nice long hike for the two of you would be better. If Fido gets overwhelmed with large groups of dogs, perhaps a puppy play date at your home would be better. Is your dog in heat? Keep her home unless you want a dog fight to start faster than you can blink your eyes. Bringing a dog to a dog park is not an option for everyone, so take care to make the best decision for you, your dog, and other dog owners. Knowing your dog will create a positive experience for you and other parkgoers.
2. Have a leash on you at all times
I’ve often time seen owners bring their dogs in the Park, then set the leash down on a chair or hook it on a fence. Having a leash on you at all times assures a quick reaction to restrain if needed. If you notice your pup not getting along well with another dog, it will be difficult to restrain him if the leash is on the other side of the fence. No matter how well you know your dog, you can never be certain of another dog’s temperament. Even the friendliest dog can become unpredictable in a new environment. Keep it tucked in your pocket, hooked on a belt loop, or wear it like a satchel. A safe dog is a happy dog.
3. The Best Treatment is Prevention
Although most parks have strict guidelines for vaccinations, a dog must have an acceptable health condition; never go to the Park under the assumption that all dogs will be healthy animals. Ensure your dog is up to date on all vaccinations and flea and tick preventatives because others may not be. After your dog park visit, always check your dog over for fleas and ticks and take appropriate measures to find these parasites.
4. Do Not Bring Food into the Park
Not even dog treats! You never know if another dog at the Park or even your dog will turn aggressive over food. Decreasing possible factors that may get a dog riled up will decrease the probability of a dog fight or a dog bite. Keep treats in your vehicle and offer them to your dog after you are done at the Park. He will appreciate it! Save your treats for after the Park as well.
5. De-Accessorize Your Dog
We all like to accessorize our pooches, but leave the fancy knit sweaters, choke/prong collars, and bandanas at home. Although these items can be fashionable, they can present hazards to your dog if worn at the Park. Dogs check out other dogs by reading their body language, and it is difficult for them to do so if another dog is wearing a nice knit sweater. Avoid any mixed signals by leaving coats, sweaters, and jackets at home. Besides, Fido is there to get down and dirty! Choke/prong collars can be potentially harmful if a paw, your dog’s or another dog’s, were to get stuck in it. These occurrences can cause dogs to panic, causing injury to themselves or others. These types of collars also present choking hazards and should always be removed before entering the Park.
A great summer pastime brings Fido to the dog park, but with extreme heat in some areas of the country, hydration is vital. Always bring plenty of water or make sure the Park you are going to provides water. Dogs can overheat fairly quickly, so always be aware of the signs of heatstroke, a potentially deadly condition. Symptoms include heavy panting, tacky and dark-colored gums, thick saliva, collapsing, and loss of consciousness. If you suspect your dog may have a heat stroke, seek immediate medical attention by calling or going to your vet. Take it easy at the Park in the heat; your dog does not need to run around at full speed, simply being in the company of other dogs can be enough to make him happy. Bring him to take a dip if your Park includes a stream or lake; it’s a great way to cool off!
7. Clean Up After Your Dog
We’ve all been there – walking along minding your own business, then suddenly “Ewww,” you’ve stepped in a fresh pile of doggie doodie. Be considerate of other dogs and dog owners and clean up after your dog. Most dog parks provide doggie clean-up bags, and most other dog parkgoers would gladly give you one if you happen to forget them. Cleaning up after your dog can also help minimize the spread of diseases and parasites.
Follow these steps for a safe and fun time at the dog park. You’re a dog, and fellow park goers will appreciate it!