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Dogs love hanging out at home and snuggling with their loved ones, but they also need to exercise regularly. When you get tired of walking around your neighborhood, you can always research local dog parks. They’re safe community spaces where your dog can run to their heart’s content, but they can also pose a few complications if you don’t know what to expect.
Check out these eight tips for a safe dog park experience. Once you know how to prepare and what to do, you and your dog can enjoy the sunshine and all their favorite furry friends.
1. Consider Your Dog
Spending time at the dog park might sound nice to you, but would your dog enjoy it? Consider things like their personality and what commands they know. They should come when you call and play nice with dogs of all sizes. If your dog shows any territorial aggression around their fetch toys or shies away from other dogs, they might prefer to be outside in your backyard.
2. Schedule Updated Vaccinations
Dogs that aren’t vaccinated shouldn’t be in a dog park. Experts recommend that puppies wait until they’re 17 weeks old or received vaccinations for:
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Older dogs should get routine booster vaccinations for all of these viruses every three years after that. Otherwise, they could become extremely ill after interacting with other dogs at the park.
3. Bring Some Supplies
Most dog parks have a source of water and a bowl ready for whoever comes to visit. They might also stock pet waste bags as a courtesy. Still, that’s not guaranteed.
Even if you don’t use them, it’s better to bring some supplies so you have everything your dog might need. Consider carrying things like:
- Leash and collar
- Water and a bowl
- Pet waste bags
- Fetch toys
These supplies will keep your dog happy, healthy and hydrated. Plus, you’ll have a backup ball or frisbee if their first goes missing after a toss into the brush or waterway.
4. Complete a Health Check
Don’t forget to remember your health needs too! It’s always smart to clean any shared equipment you could come into contact with. Bring a cleaning solution that kills COVID-19 along with other viruses and bacteria. Splash a little on a rag and wipe down fence handles or benches.
Make sure you dry each area thoroughly and don’t use the cleaning solution on anything a dog will lick, like the community water bowl.
5. Watch the Other Dogs
Everyone assumes that other people at the dog park will have friendly pets, but that’s not always true. Some dogs are pleasant with small crowds, then get aggressive once the park fills up. If you hear consistent growling and spot any of these behaviors, it’s time to go somewhere else to protect your pup:
- Rigid posture
- Raised hackles (the hair along their spine)
- Pricked ears
- Exposed teeth
Don’t depend on other people to take the initiative. Pay attention to the other dogs in the park so you can remove yours if there’s an issue.
6. Check the Fence
Public committees and community property managers will install dog parks to benefit those living in the area, but they don’t always keep up with the place. Some dogs could dig holes beneath the fence where the owner can’t spot them, helping other curious dogs slip out in the future.
When you arrive at the dog park, stay by your dog’s side. Check the fence on all sides and get up close for an inspection if necessary. You’ll save your dog and others from getting out and potentially not being able to find their way back.
7. Read the Rules
Every dog park has a list of rules usually posted by the main entrance. It explains if you’re supposed to bring waste bags, when the park closes and how many people should be there. Reading these rules is the best way to stay safe in a dog park. Abide by them and everyone will have an enjoyable time.
8. Remember the Leash
The point of a dog park is to let your pup run around off their leash, but you’ll still need to keep it in hand. Some parks have connected trail systems that don’t use fences. Your dog will require their leash if you want to venture out with them. It prevents them from potentially coming in contact with wild animals or running into nearby roadways.
Stay Alert and Present
Use these tips for a safe dog park experience and always stay alert while you’re there. Instead of sitting down to read a book or scroll through social media feeds, keep an eye on your dog. Pay attention to any dogs around you when you enter or exit the park too. As long as your dog has your attention, you’ll both have a great morning or afternoon excursion away from home.