Dog Parks are a popular place for pet parents to take their pups to meet and play with other dogs in a fenced, off-leash environment (*note that not all dog parks are fully fenced). Social time, play, and freedom to investigate new spaces are all great ways to both exercise and mentally stimulate your dog. Dog parks may exist in cities or counties and are also becoming popular in dog-friendly communities and apartment complexes.
If you plan to take your pup to a dog park, here are a few tips to help you and your dog stay safe and have a great time:
- Recognize that not all dogs belong at a dog park. If your dog does not get along well with other dogs or you see another dog acting in a manner that you feel is unsafe; call it a day and leave the park.
- Most dog parks are self-regulated. This means each pet parent is responsible for his or her own dog and should be cognizant of how their dog’s behavior is affecting others. Each pet parent is also responsible for the health of their dog through preventative measures (vaccines, flea/tick prevention, etc.) in order to protect other dogs.
- Make sure your pup is current on vaccinations and that your veterinarian is aware that you go to dog parks. Veterinarians may change their vaccination and preventative care based on you and your pup’s lifestyle.
- Plan before you go. Along with vaccinations, ensure your dog has current identification on his collar and is not injured or sick in any way.
- Make sure you have your own doggie waste bags with you and a bowl and fresh water for after you exit the park.
- Some parks may supply water sources, but if these are not regularly disinfected and filled with fresh water, they can host and spread disease.
- If you find that the dog park is not for you, you have more options! Camp Bow Wow® offers a safe and fun environment for dogs to play and socialize, which will improve their behavior on walks, and in dog parks and other establishments. Many locations also offer positive reinforcement based training to help your dog be the best companion he can be!
Get Ready for the Dog Park:
- Practice recall with your dog and make sure it’s reliable even in highly distracting environments. Recall will be important in the dog park in case you need to give your dog a break from playing or call him away from another dog or gate.
- Teach your dog to check in with you regularly so that it becomes habit, again even in highly distracting environments. Checking in could involve eye contact with you, touching your hand, or coming over to sit by your side.
- “Drop it” is another great cue to teach your pup before heading out to a dog park. Drop it can be useful to have your dog let go of sticks or other items loose in the park, or can be helpful to return a toy to its proper owner.
- Ensure your pup is comfortable and safe around dogs of all sizes as most parks do not regulate who enters and uses the park. Small dogs and big dogs can play together, but not all small dogs are comfortable with large dog, and not all large dogs play appropriately with small dogs.