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Taking your family for a trip to the dog park might be the highlight of your weekend. Your dog loves the opportunity to run around, and your kids can play in the shade. Parks are the perfect place to have fun, but only if they’re a safe environment.
Check out how to keep your dog park safe for everyone who visits. With a little planning and a few handy tips, your local dog park will always be an enjoyable place to visit.
1. Check the Fence
Without fencing, dog parks couldn’t exit. Even if your local park has a fence without rust or visible weathering, it’s always smart to check it when you arrive. Other dogs could dig their way underneath it before you get there, allowing your pup to slip out when you’re not looking.
Pointing out holes in the fence will also direct the park management to the specific problem that needs addressing. Without the necessary details, they might complete routine maintenance and miss the holes completely.
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2. Pay Close Attention
Your dogs and kids can roam around the park, but don’t forget to pay close attention to them. They could come across an unfriendly dog or hurt themselves on the landscaping. Even when you feel tempted to sit on a bench and read, keep an eye out for your little ones so you’re ready to help if they need it.
3. Greet the Regulars
Unless you go early in the morning, you’ll likely run into people at the dog park. Greet everyone and get to know the regulars. You’ll make friends and potentially spark a new romance that leads to a lasting relationship. You’ll also be able to spot any strangers that could be there for the wrong reasons.
4. Clean the Equipment
Even though you might spend your time throwing a tennis ball for your dog, you’ll likely still use shared surfaces. Benches, fence handles and community water fountains are all places to congregate and spread illnesses.
If you bring a homemade cleaning solution, you can wipe things down before touching them. Your whole family will benefit from less contact with germs. Before you leave for the park, make a bleach solution that kills viruses and bacteria on contact.
Always ensure that every surface dries before letting dogs touch or lick them after cleaning dog park equipment. Bleach can burn skin on contact and poison dogs if ingested.
5. Set Family Rules
Your kids go everywhere with you, including the dog park. Before you go back, remind your kids about any family rules regarding what’s allowed and what’s not. You might discuss things like:
- Asking permission to pet dogs
- Only playing with the family dog
- Not wandering out of your sight
If they don’t break any of these rules, they’ll be safer while playing around new dogs and strange people. Celebrate successful trips to reinforce the rules. Take everyone out for ice cream afterward or watch their favorite movie when you get home.
You can also find inspiration by checking the park’s specific rules. Tell your kids that they can’t visit before the park opens and have to avoid climbing the trees. Other rules posted at the park’s entrance will serve as a guide for what you tell your children they can or can’t do.
6. Pick Up Waste
Many dog parks include picking up waste in their community rules. Some people don’t listen, but it’s a crucial way to keep your dog park safe. Bring bags to pick up after your dog to remove sources of disease. You’ll keep humans from coming in contact with piles of bacteria and dogs from contracting potentially lethal parasites spread through waste.
7. Learn Aggressive Behaviors
Paying attention to your dog or your kids will only mean something if you learn typical aggressive behaviors most dogs will demonstrate when upset. They could do things such as:
Any behaviors that make you feel uncomfortable are a reason to pull everyone out of the park. Even if every dog there is friendly, they could get into fights or become territorial and make the environment unsafe for everyone.
8. Hold the Leash
After you enter the park, make sure you remove your dog’s leash and hold onto it. You’ll prevent your dog from getting caught on something and choking. It’s also smart to keep it on hand in case you need to remove your dog quickly from a fight or other dangerous scenario.
If you visit a new local park, it could also have open trails. Without the safety of a fence, it’s better to leash your dog anytime they leave the park.
Create a Game Plan
Now that you know how to keep your dog park safe, create a game plan. Know what you’re going there to do, like play fetch or entertain your kids. You’ll know where to direct your focus and which situations to prepare for so everyone has a great time while you’re away from home.