Advice & Features Articles

Barking Up the Right Tree: Dog Park Do’s and Don’ts

Taking your pooch to a dog park sounds like fun, right? While it can turn into a doggie dream-come-true, it can also slide into a canine quandary if you’re not careful. 

“It’s really important to make sure the dog is socialized before you turn him free at a dog park,” says a local veterinarian. “You don’t want to be the owner who shows up with a dog that attacks others.”

From dogs gone wild to people behaving badly, a dog park brings together both risks and rewards. To make sure you’re barking up the right tree, follow these dog park guidelines:

DO

1. Make sure your dog is current with all vaccines and heartworm/flea/tick medications. You can’t trust that other owners are taking care of their dogs, so make sure yours is protected.

2.  Make sure the dog has access to water. Some parks feature doggie water fountains, but some don’t. Play it safe by bringing your own water supply.

3. Take special consideration if your dog isn’t spayed or neutered. These dogs are more likely to be aggressive or try to mate while they’re there.

4. Time your visits appropriately. It’s hotter and busier in the afternoon and early evening, so go early in the morning before the heat and crowds kick in.

5. Scout out good dog parks. Veterinarians advise looking for clean parks that are completely fenced in, preferably with separate sections for small and large dogs. Other good features include water fountains, shade trees and walking paths.

 

DON’T

1. Be that owner. You know, the clueless guy on the phone not paying attention to his dog’s behavior or the woman who doesn’t clean up after her pooch. 

2. Bring your dog to the park without some at-home exercise first. If a dog has been cooped up in the house all day, he tends to get overexcited once he gets to the park, which might bother other dogs. Before heading to the park, take your dog for a quick walk or let him run around your backyard.

3.  Take a puppy to a park prior to 16 weeks old. That’s the age they get the last round of puppy booster shots. You want to make sure your dog is fully protected and vaccinated before going to a dog park.

Following these guidelines will increase the odds that your dog will enjoy a safe, fun visit to the dog park. But the best advice sometimes is simple common sense.

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