Ask any dog owner and they will tell you their opinion about dog parks. They may be one of the most debated subjects in the dog world. While they aren’t right for everyone, here’s what you need to know if you do decide to bring your pooch to your local park.
- Don’t bring any puppies younger than 12 weeks or dogs that haven’t been immunized. Dog parks can be dangerous for little pups or dogs with weak immune systems as they’re at an increased risk of coming into contact with viruses at the park.
- Consider your dog’s personality and behavior before bringing them to the park. If your dog guards its toys, food or water bowl, they may not be ready to play nicely with others. Similarly, your dog should respond to you, even when distracted; if they don’t, some extra training such as private socializing classes could help.
- Take a look around before entering the dog park. Watch the dogs, check out their behavior and decide if you want your pet hanging out with the current group of dogs.
- Watch your dog at all times. Ensure you aren’t distracted by your phone or by other dog owners and know where your dog is at all times.
- If you have a small breed dog, try to find a park with a designated small dog area for a safe and happy outing.
- Don’t bring an in-season or pregnant dog to the park.
- Always pick up after your pooch. Enough said.
- Don’t expect the dog park to exercise your dog. In fact, taking your dog for a walk before going to the park stimulates their brain and works off excess energy, and may help them listen to you better even when distracted.
- Remove harnesses and prong collars before entering the park. Dogs are drawn to the neck and shoulders of their playmates. Leaving harnesses or metal collars on puts your dog and all others at risk of a potentially serious injury to their teeth and skin.
- Think twice before bringing young children with you. Some dogs lack the social skills to engage properly with kids, and if you’re watching your kids, it’s much harder to keep track of your dog.
The biggest rule though is to have fun with your dog and enjoy some quality time together. Whether that's at a dog park or somewhere else is a choice only you can make.