Dog parks are supposed to be safe and fun for both you and your dog, but they are not for everyone.
For sociable dogs it’s a chance to have a romp and play and maybe even socialise with another dog but it also comes with risks which you need to be aware of.
Things you need to know before going to a dog park:
–make sure your dog is up to date with vaccinations, worming, flea and tick control.
–ideally your dog should know basic commands of “come”, “sit”, “stay” and “leave it” in case a problematic situation arises -if they don’t consistently respond to these basic commands then maybe the park isn’t the best place to go and a walk elsewhere would be better.
–find a park that suits you and your dog – it should have secure fences, a double gait entry, ideally a separate area for small dogs, some shelter and a source of drinking water (otherwise you need to take your own).
–What to take: take poo bags to clean up after them, a source of water and a bowl just in case the park doesn’t have water (water can also be used to help break up altercations), a lead, and a mobile phone just in case you need assistance.
–be watchful – before you enter the park look to see how busy it is and check for over excited, bossy or boisterous dogs. If it is busy or the play looks rough just keep walking and go elsewhere.
You may think you have the perfect pooch, but many dogs have never learnt how to be polite and play nicely with other dogs. E.g. Some dogs are boisterous and get in shy dogs faces or try and jump all over them which can be terrifying, other dogs look on the park as their own territory and try to rule the roost. Many owners don’t pay attention to their dog or other dogs body language and don’t realise their dog is overwhelming another one.
If the park and the dogs using it looks calm, then enter and watch your dog’s body language -if they look happy and comfy then let them off the leash and go for a walk with your dog in the park. Do NOT stand in a group chatting to people – otherwise the dogs just get in a big group, get in each other’s faces and trouble can start.
The idea of a dog park is that you spend time with your dog when they are off leash i.e. you let them slightly wander and keep calling them back to you rewarding them for listening and concentrating on you.
Playful dogs bounce around, wag their tails and have relaxed postures and facial expressions. Be watchful for signs of aggression—growling, a stiff posture, raised hackles and tail, ears down, a closed mouth or a stronger focus. Don’t yell if your dog and another dog start growling at each other, because that could trigger a fight. Instead, use a basic command to call your dog back to you and start moving quickly to another spot. If a fight does break out, don’t grab your dog’s collar—you could get hurt. Instead, use a loud clap or throw some water to try and break them up.
Hopefully these tips will help keep your dog safe at the dog park, for more information see: