Safety Tips for Playing at the Dog Park

The dog park is a great way to get your pooch the exercise she needs to thrive without having to let her pull you along on a leash.

She gets to run free and you can either play a game of catch or simply let her goof around with the other dogs. Everyone with a friendly dog should utilize these local amenities, because they’re great for necessary socialization, but you also need to keep your pup’s safety in mind when you go.

Know Your Dog’s Personality

Sometimes we tend to be dishonest with ourselves when it comes to our furry friend’s true disposition. While she might be a lovable, snuggly angel at home with the family she might turn into an anxious and aggressive dog around strangers. Is this true for your pet? If so, taking her to the dog park and letting her run wild might be a bad idea. Your best bet is to get her into some professional obedience classes pronto, but you can still take her to the park and either keep her leashed and separated or only let her run around when she’s the only dog there.

Never Turn Your Back

You probably wouldn’t let your child run loose at a playground without keeping a watchful eye on them and the same should go for your pet at the park. Whether she’s wandering around alone or playing with other pups you need to be cognizant of what she’s doing at all times. Dogs can flip on a dime and your pup could be in danger if she and a new friend start playing a little too rough, or she might just be an excellent escape artist who finds a way out under the fence.

In a similar vein, you should probably leave your cellphone in your pocket if you can’t tear your face away from the screen.

Socialize Yourself

One of the best ways to stay safe at the dog park is to communicate with the other dog owners. They know their own pets better than anyone and can tell you if there might be cause for concern when your pups are playing. When they become familiar with your dog that’s also an extra set of eyes to keep watch with you.

©istockphoto/richiesd

©istockphoto/richiesd

Don’t Bring a Dog in Heat

If you’re the proud owner of a lady dog and she’s currently in heat, keep her far away from the dog park. That’s just asking for trouble. A dog in heat can create an excited and aggressive atmosphere of competition and is likely to get hurt with all the attention on her, or she could hurt someone else when trying to protect herself. It’s also a good idea to keep her away while she’s pregnant.

Pay Attention to Size

Many dog parks have separate areas for small and large breeds, but if yours doesn’t, you might have to be extra cautious about keeping your pup isolated. While it might seem harmless to let small and large dogs mingle, a tiny pooch can easily get trampled in all the excitement. Similarly, you don’t want to bring a puppy that’s younger than 11 or 12 weeks to the park otherwise it could easily get hurt.

Leave Untrained Dogs at Home

If your pup has trouble following basic commands, like coming back when you call or leaving toys alone when told, she’s not quite ready to handle the park. There will likely be other dogs with their own toys there playing and if you pup can’t share or doesn’t listen when you want her to leave something alone it could cause problems. Make sure your pup has finished obedience training before you hit the park.

Don’t Be Afraid of Dogs

Some people can be excellent dog owners but still have misplaced fear of certain breeds. Unfortunately, if you get into a situation with one of these breeds at the park your dog is going to pick up on that fear and respond accordingly, likely with fear or aggression. If you’re unable to handle a large pup wanting to say “hi,” then you might want to keep your dog away from the dog park, as you can’t really control what breeds might be there.

Meet the Author: Ben Kerns

Ben Kerns is a freelance writer, photographer and outdoor adventurer based out of San Diego. When he’s not busy working you can find him hopping across the world looking for new places to climb big rocks. He’s also fanatically obsessed with funding his outdoor obsessions for as little money as possible. This stuff gets expensive.

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