Is Your Dog Ready For The Dog Park?

Dog parks are increasing in number and popularity all over the United States. There are many benefits to taking your pup to a dog park. However, there are several things to take into account before you go. So, how do you know if you and your dog are ready to begin visits to your local park? Consider the following information to determine your preparedness.

Is Your Dog Healthy Enough For The Dog Park?

Unfortunately, you can’t rely on other pet owners to keep up with their dogs’ health; you can only hope they do. When it comes to your dog’s safety, that’s not good enough. To ensure its safety and good health, make sure you vaccinate your dog fully before you go. Speak with your veterinarian about not only required vaccines, but also optional ones such as Bordetella (kennel cough). Ask about heartworm prevention regimens, especially if heart worm is prevalent in your area, as well as flea and tick prevention. This means you won’t have to worry whether or not other dogs are vaccinated. This will provide appropriate protection for both your dog and other dogs it comes in contact with.

Additionally, puppies under a certain age, usually around four months, are not yet fully vaccinated. Wait until it has had its full round before introducing your puppy to a dog park.

Proper Behavior Before Going To The Dog Park

Every dog has its own distinct personality. Some are outgoing and playful. Others are skittish and easily bothered. If your dog exhibits signs of being withdrawn, shy, intimidated by, or uninterested in other dogs, don’t force the issue. Your dog’s disposition is unlikely to change. Presenting an anti-social dog to a crowd of strange dogs could result in trauma. It could cause your dog to be the victim of bully-dogs or hyperactive, social dogs. Putting your introverted dog in such a situation could even result in an aggressive reaction toward the other dogs. Also, avoid dog parks if your dog has a history of intolerance toward other dogs.

Obviously, dogs aren’t the only ones with varying personalities. People have differing ideas about how to manage their pets. Before going to a dog park, be prepared to encounter others who don’t see eye to eye with you about what is acceptable dog behavior. Chances are good that you will have a positive experience; but disagreements are possible. If you don’t appreciate a certain interaction between your dog and another’s, approach the situation in a kind, levelheaded manner. Practice patience and respect. If it appears contention is inevitable, remove yourself and your dog from the park, and come back another time.

Though the majority of dog parks are fenced in, they are still wide-open areas. In any open area, especially ones filled with excited, rambunctious dogs, it is important that your pet listens to you. Before you visit a dog park, make sure your dog comes when you call. Training your dog to have a good, obedient recall is necessary in case a melee arises. If play gets too rough, if your dog is not being a good friend to other dogs, or if you don’t like the way another dog is approaching or interacting with yours, you need to be able to call your dog to you successfully. Aside from that, you probably don’t want to chase your dog around the park, leash in hand, when it’s time to go.

Fertility Issues At The Dog Park

It’s best to visit the dog park with a spayed or neutered dog. This eliminates successful mating. With males, neutering also reduces testosterone levels, and thus decreases the risk your dog will exhibit aggressive behavior or become a target of other dogs.

If you do decide to take your un-neutered or un-spayed dog to the dog park, make sure your female is not in heat, and pay close attention to your dog at all times.

Familiarity with Surroundings

Before you take your dog out for a jaunt in the park, go alone and observe. Become familiar with the rules of the park, the types of dogs and owners who are visiting, and whether or not the space itself is appropriate for your particular dog. Make sure you are willing to follow the rules. If you have a small dog, see if the park has a separate area designated for the wee ones. Check if they have sheltered areas and water stations. This way, you know what to expect and what you should bring along when you take your dog out.

Dog parks make for great outings for both you and your dog. They allow excitement, socialization, and a break from boredom. However, for your and your dog’s safety, and to ensure the best time for everyone, always go prepared.