Dog parks are fun, for the owners sometimes as much as the dogs. It’s like the playground for kids – you can run around and be as loud as you want and no one minds. But there are dangers at the dog park, too. Review these tips to make sure that you get the most out of your experience.
Beware of the person who brings their dog to the dog park even though their dog doesn’t play nicely with others. There’s one in every crowd. The dog that growls, plays too rough, or is just downright nasty to others and the owner seems oblivious to it all. If a gentle reminder that their pet is too aggressive doesn’t prompt them to remove their dog from the common area, remove yours instead.
Keep in mind that even your well-behaved and friendly dog can have moments that are out of character, and I speak from experience here. I had a labrador mix that was the sweetest – and wimpiest – dog ever. One day in the dog park, while horsing around with his neighborhood friend, my dog got over-excited and his doggy friend ended up needing stitches on the top of his head. To say I was mortified is an understatement. I was also disappointed in my dog whom I thought I could trust anywhere. Just keep an eye out for behavior that gets a little out of control.
Remember that you have no idea of the medical history of the other dogs in the ring. Just because your dog has been vaccinated doesn’t mean everyone else’s has, even if they say so. Be sure to engage in preventive care for your dog, meaning vaccinations, heartworm preventative, etc. The more covered your pet is, the better the chance that he’ll stay healthy.
Did you know that dog parks are also beds for spreading zoonotic diseases? That means diseases that are spread from animals to humans. Don’t pet or contact any dog that looks unhealthy. If it can’t be avoided, wash your hands as soon as possible before touching your face or any other apparently healthy dog.
Don’t let your dog drink from puddles of standing water that may be present. Bacteria and who knows what else could be lurking. If possible, bring clean water with you for your dog to drink.
Clean up after your dog immediately and do not let it have contact with any other dog’s waste.
Remember to check your dog for ticks after every trip to the park.
Using these tips and some good common sense, the dog park can be something to look forward to. Make the most of your trip by taking care of safety first. Have fun!