A trip to the off-leash dog park is a great way to spend an afternoon with your dog. Before you go, brush up on the best way for your dog to behave at such a park and how to keep them safe when you are there.
The first thing to do is to choose your park carefully. Look for one with secure fencing and a separate area for smaller dogs. This goes a long way to keeping little breeds and puppies safe from exuberant attention from larger dogs. Shade is also important, especially in the warmer months. It would be a good idea to go to the park without your dog at various times of the day to get an idea of how busy it is and what mix of dogs are there. This will possibly allow you to plan your dog’s visit to coincide with others of a similar size.
Dog parks are a little like day-care centers for children. If one individual has an illness, it can spread quickly throughout the other visitors to the park. Check that your dog’s vaccinations are all up to date and make sure you worm them and treat them for fleas frequently. Some pet parents of dogs prefer to bring their own water dish to the park, to avoid their dog becoming unwell from the communal water bowl.
The main reason for dogs to visit the off-leash park is to play with other dogs and make new friends. However, not all dogs play nicely and there have been incidents where dogs were injured while at the park. Sometimes, playtime can get rowdy and noisy and it can be hard to tell if it is still a game or if things are getting tense between dogs. Always watch your dog; do not get distracted by conversations with other people. If a doggie game looks like it is getting out of hand, remove your dog until things settle down.
Should you find your dog in the middle of a fight, don’t be tempted to put your hand in the middle to pull the dogs apart – you could end up being bitten. Try to distract the dogs with a noise or throw a bowl of water over them. Only intervene if there is no clear sign of them separating.
It is important to realize that not all dogs will enjoy a dog park. Some dogs can become overwhelmed by the noise and number of dogs there. If your pooch prefers to have just a few playmates, they are more likely to enjoy a playdate with your friend’s dogs rather than a free-for-all in a big park. Don’t take them to the dog park if that’s the case because an outing that should be fun will instead make them stressed and anxious.
Off-leash parks are important in allowing dogs to play and interact with other dogs, and for their pet parents to chat with other dog lovers. If you are aware of what could go wrong, you can take steps to prevent any issues, and you can both have a fun day out.