Dog Park 101
Dogs parks can be a great way to socialize your pet and get some exercise at the same time. But before you leash up Fido at head to the dog park, there are some rules you and your dog should comply with. These rules make the dog park a safe, clean environment that is also fun for pets and pet parents alike!
1. Leave a sick dog at home.
Because there are so many different dogs from different environments mixing in one place, the dog park can be a hothouse of infectious agents. Parasites like hookworms, roundworms, giardiasis, and coccidiosis thrive in feces and shared water bowls. If you think there is even a chance your pet could be infected with a contagious disease or parasite, stay at home.
2. Pick up your pet’s messes.
It goes without saying that as a pet parent you are responsible for any little presents your dog might drop while you’re at the dog park. Some facilities might have baggies available, but always bring your own – better safe than sorry!
3. Keep an eye on your pet!
No dog likes a bully! Don’t zone out while your pet plays; watch your dog closely for any ill manners or rough play, whether it’s your pet on the giving or receiving end of the bad behavior. You should also watch your dog to ensure his or her health – ingesting feces or drinking from a shared water bowl can lead to a parasitic infection.
4. Be mindful of your pet’s age and personality.
Some dogs are better off getting their exercise other ways. If you answer yes to any of the following, refrain from bringing your pet to the dog park.
- Is your pet younger than four months?
- Is your dog in heat?
- Are you unclear of your pet’s current health status?
- Is your pet shy or easily frightened, especially around other dogs?
- Has your dog every had problems bullying or being aggressive to other dogs?
- Does your dog not respond to your commands?
If you find the dog park is not an option for your pet, don’t worry, there are many other types of exercise you can do! Swimming, walking or jogging, playing fetch or tug-of-war, and hiking can all get you and your dog moving.
5. BYOB – bring your own baggies!
While the area inside the dog park may be safe to release your dog, it’s important to have your pet on a leash at all times when outside the park. Bring a sturdy leash and collar with you whenever you visit the park, along with doggie bags to pick up after your pet. Bringing your own water and bowl is essential for pet parents who are dog park regulars. Communal water bowls can host many types of parasites that can be tricky and expensive to treat. Be safe and don’t let your dog share with others!
Bringing your pooch to the dog park can be an enriching experience. Dogs benefit from both the exercise and the social time they get to spend with other dogs. When you’re at a public dog park it’s important to be mindful of others and their pets; not all dogs are as well-behaved as yours, and even your perfect pooch may not play so nice around others! Be safe and respectful and both you and your dog will have fun at the dog park.