The next time you get the “let’s play” bark from your dog, consider taking him to a dog park. Your dog might enjoy running off-leash, socializing with other dogs and working off his excess energy.
You might also enjoy meeting and socializing with other dog owners. We say “might” because not all dogs do well at dog parks and if your dog isn’t comfortable, you won’t be either. Here are a few things to consider.
Why your dog may not be ready
Don’t assume your dog will love the park. His temperament, health and social skills will determine if the park is a good idea or a potential disaster.
You should go if your dog…
- Is healthy, vaccinated and neutered or spayed.
- Loves socializing with other dogs.
- Responds to voice commands. (He should at least come when called.)
- Has a lot of youthful energy.
You should NOT go if your dog…
- Is in heat or hasn’t been neutered.
- Is unvaccinated, especially if he’s a puppy.
- Has chronic injuries or pain.
- Shows fearful or aggressive behavior with other dogs or humans.
- Is a dog bully who often fights with other dogs.
If you’re not sure how your dog will react, take him for a test run at the park. Keep him on a leash and watch him socialize with other canines before you decide.
The best dog parks offer these features:
- A securely fenced area with a double-gate entrance to keep dogs from slipping out.
- Enough space for dogs to run and play without overcrowding.
- A separate area for small dogs.
- Water fountains for dogs and humans.
- Stations with waste bags and trash cans for dog waste.
- Optional: dog play equipment or agility equipment.
Play it safe
One last word of caution: pay constant attention to your dog in the park. He may be a model of good behavior, but he’ll be dealing with other dogs and their dog owners. Some of these owners may have different opinions of what’s appropriate. If there’s an aggressive dog who’s not being managed by his owner, for example, move to a different area or leave the park altogether.
Ready for some dog-park fun? Find a dog park in your neighborhood by checking with your local parks department or searching DogParkUSA.com.
Keep your dog safe and hydrated at the park with dog leashes and collapsible water bowls from PetSupermarket.com.