About eight months ago, I got a dog. I live in an apartment so I don’t have a fenced in yard in which my dog can play. I spoke with a professional dog trainer about whether or not it was a good idea to take him to dog parks, as well as to some other dog owners, because I want him to be able to run around and play but I also want him to be safe.
Dog parks can be risky, since not all dogs are well-behaved. Here are some tips to help you and your pup enjoy a day at the park, while staying safe.
- Consider going to parks that are not very crowded, or at times when they aren’t very crowded. The more dogs present, the greater the chance of a dog fight breaking out.
- Don’t take your dog to dog parks if he is aggressive at all or doesn’t get along well with other dogs. If your dog behaves aggressively at all while at a dog park, leave immediately.
- If another dog behaves aggressively toward your dog while at a dog park, leave immediately. Yes, ideally the owner of the other dog would take her dog and leave, but if she doesn’t, you need to remove your dog in order to keep your dog safe.
- Don’t take any food or treats to dog parks. Dogs are likely to fight over it.
- Do take water for your dog. Some dog parks have water available, some don’t, and even parks that normally do have water available may not have any for whatever reason on the day you visit. You can give your dog water at your car, you don’t need to take it into the park with you, but have fresh water available for your dog.
- Don’t take toys to the dog park if it’s against park rules (check before you go). Don’t take toys if your dog doesn’t share well with others, because there is a good chance other dogs will want to play with his toys. Only take toys that should be safe for any dog at the park; that means if you have small dog but there might be big dogs at the park, don’t take small toys that bigger dogs could choke on.
- Don’t throw sticks for your dog at the park. Dogs can get splinters in their mouths and get very sick or even require surgery. If you need to throw something for your dog to catch, take a safe dog toy.
- Keep your dog on a leash until you get inside the fenced area. Take your dog off the leash as soon as you get inside the fenced area. Don’t use flexi-leads or retractable leashes at the dog park, because dogs can wrap them around other dogs’ legs or people’s legs and injure other dogs or people.
- Pick up after your dog. Not only is it gross to leave dog poop lying around, it’s unsanitary and dogs and people can end up getting sick. Avoid dog parks where you see lots of dog waste on the ground.
- And most importantly, always – always, always, always – make sure your dog is wearing a collar with an identification tag that includes a current telephone number. If you have a cell phone, have that number on your dog’s tag and take your cell phone with you to the park. If your dog somehow gets loose, someone could find him and call you while you are still at the park.