July 29 2014
Dog parks are an excellent way to get out some of that
"extra" energy your dog may have. Dog parks can also be a great way to
socialize your dog -- but can also be unsafe if proper measures aren't taken. The following
tips are to help you keep your dog safe and happy at the park.
- Know your
dog. Not all dogs enjoy meeting new dogs. There are
three types of dogs that shouldn't be at a dog parks.
- The adult dog that has not been previously socialized. Socialization is
important for all dogs. For these dogs it may be better to begin the
socialization process in a smaller setting.
- The dogs that plays too rough. Not all dogs like to be rolled, pinned or
knocked over. If your dog plays rough match him with dogs that can tolerate
- The overly shy/timid dog. These dogs typically don't have fun at the dog
Don't let your dog get overwhelmed by
meeting too many dogs at once. If your dog has not interacted regularly with
other dogs, find out how he will react. You can perform a test by introducing
your dog to a friends' dog that you know interacts well with other dogs.
Testing your dog in a controlled environment is ideal before you go into the
- Keep your dog
healthy. Be sure your dog isn't vulnerable to picking
up infections from other dogs by keeping him up to date on his
vaccinations and worming medications.
- Observe. Consider
visiting the park without your dog for the first time to familiarize
yourself with the park itself and the dogs that play there. Before
bringing your dog inside the park, spend a few minutes watching the other
dogs and how they interact. On your next visit you may want to bring your
dog and sit quietly with him outside the park. Having your dog with you to
observe from outside the park enables you to watch how he reacts to seeing
the other dogs.
out slow. The first few visits to the dog park should
be short, no longer than 15 minutes. Slowly increase the length of your
stays as your dog becomes more comfortable with the dog park atmosphere.
a time that is less busy for your first few visits to the park. Weekday
evenings are peak, high-traffic times at dog parks, and weekends and
holidays tend to be busy all day long. Acquaint your dog with the dog park
when the park isn't as crowded.
supervise your dog. Don't get distracted while
talking to other owners. Keep an eye on your dog at all times to make sure
his interactions with other dogs are safe. Watch his body language to help
you avoid any trouble before it begins. Watching his actions also enables
you to quickly clean up after your pet.
your dog off leash as soon as you enter unleashed areas. Mixing
leashed and unleashed dogs can create a hostile situation. Leashed dogs,
and their owners, often display body language and behavior that is
threatening to the unleashed dogs and may encourage them to be aggressive
and defensive in return. A leashed
dog cannot make the choice his natural instinct tells him of "fight or flight"
-- if he cannot take flight, he may have to fight.
hazards. Be aware of
potential hazards that may be in the park, such as toxic chemicals,
garbage or noxious plants. Be sure to wash any chemicals, such as
fertilizer or pesticides, off of your dog's feet and legs to ensure they
aren't licked and ingested.
children at home. Don't
bring children with you to the dog park. You will not safely be able to
watch your kids and your dog at the same time. Many dogs have not been
socialized to children. Both frighten and excite easily -- and react
differently -- creating a dangerous atmosphere. It's simply too easy for a
child to get hurt at a dog park.
small puppies at home. Puppies less
than four months old aren't fully immunized yet and are at higher risk for
contracting diseases. They are also very vulnerable to being traumatized
by another dog's aggressive behavior.
not bring toys or food. Most parks are already littered with balls and toys that other
people have brought. Rewarding your dog with treats or giving him toys in
front of other dogs can create jealousy and aggression.
language. Educate yourself about dog body language and
communication signals so you can tell the difference between fear, play
when to leave. You should remove your dog from the park if
he is being threatened or bullied and seems fearful; begins to display
aggressive behavior by becoming overexcited or threatening toward other
dogs; is panting heavily; or seems overly tired. Keep your dog's welfare a
NOT physically intervene in a dog fight. Never reach in to break up fighting
dogs. Squirt the dogs in the face with a water bottle or try to distract
them by throwing something near them, but never physically intervene.
- Prevent injuries. Be aware of the signs of a possible dog fight before it might happen. Don't allow
a dog's overexcitement turn into a fight. If
your dog injures a person or dog, give your name and phone number to the
injured party. Report to law enforcement authorities any handlers who
refuse to take liability for damages or injuries and who are endangering
the safety of others.