Make a Trip to the Dog Park a Safe One
While you might love to see your dogs run around and play with other pups at your community dog park, taking them to one will require a fair amount of diligence to ensure your furry friends stay safe and that your pets enjoy themselves during the outing.
Note: Despite all the warnings in the following articles, most of your visits to the dog park are going to be completely fine and without any issues whatsoever.
Being Cautious of Other Dogs (and Their Owners)
One particularly important thing to remember -which we will be mentioning a few times in this piece- is that other dog owners will not be aware of their dogs’ actions. Not only should you be on the lookout to ensure that your dogs are behaving themselves properly as they socialize with other dogs, but you also need to keep your eyes and ears open for the way they are acting around your pets.
This is doubly true if (or when) you notice that another owner is preoccupied with something else other than their pet. Most of the time you will find a distracted owner just staring at their phone without looking up for minutes straight. And even if they are not wearing headphones, people so lost in their tech world are not only prone to not vigilantly watching their dogs’ behavior, but you shouldn’t expect them to react to anything short of an all-out brawl between two dogs.
Other types of distracted dog owners include those who are engaged in a conversation (either with another park guest or on a phone call), people who have more than two dogs, and parents who brought their children to the dog park – especially if those kids are small. These types of dog park visitors will be more aware than the smartphone addicts, but they still run the risk of missing incidents that might arise with their dog(s).
Another kind of dog owner you will want to keep an eye on is the person who has a particularly aggressive demeanor themselves. Oftentimes -though not guaranteed- these people will not care about any kind of scuffle their dog gets into and if their pet “wins” a confrontation.
Before Your (Dog’s) First Visit
Before your beloved pet ever sets foot near the dog park, you should take the time to visit the location without your dog to scope the place out. During this scouting mission, there are some questions you should keep try to answer for yourself, including:
- What’s the condition of the park’s fences and gates?
- Are there holes, rusted sections, broken/sharp protrusions, or anything else potentially dangerous or escapable by your dog?
- Where are the park’s rule?
- What are the rules?
- Are there separate fenced areas for different dog sizes?
- Are plastic bags available to pick up dog poop?
- Are there enough to reliable expect them at the park when you visit?
When You Shouldn’t Go to the Dog Park
Normally, when you take your pet to the dog park, you shouldn’t expect any issues to arise. However, to really make sure things go well during your trip, there are a few situations where you should avoid taking your dog to one of these parks. If any of the following apply to your dog, stay away from the dog park until the situation or behavior is resolved:
- Your dog is antisocial – if she is aggressive or overly shy of other dogs, consult a trainer or animal behavior specialist before going to the dog park.
- Your dog is in heat – Taking a dog in heat to the dog park could lead to a ton of unintended consequences, including vicious fights between surrounding male dogs and, of course, a litter of puppies you’re not ready for.
- Your dog’s vaccinations are not up to date.
- Your dog has fleas or ticks – This is one instance where sharing certainly is not caring.
If a Fight Breaks Out
Even after you have made sure everything is good to go for a visit to the dog park, there is always still a chance that your dog ends up in a scuffle. If this happens -or if any other two dogs start to fight near you- do not try to step in between the fighting dogs. Instead, throw something between the fighting Fidos like a coat or another object that could briefly disorient them. This will allow the owners time to collect their dogs and end the brawl.
If your dog isn’t a part of the fight, make sure to hold her and keep her calm until both parties have settled down. If your dog was in the fray, though, we recommend you take her home for the day.