Fall is the perfect time to spend more time outside with your dog. The weather has cooled down enough that you don’t have to worry about them overheating and it’s still early enough to avoid the messiness and hazards that come with snow and ice. A dog park may seem like the perfect autumn escape, but dangers still lurk in these open play areas. Here are five tips to ensure both you and your dog have the best possible time on your next trip.
Visit the Park on Your Own
You know your dog’s personality better than anyone else, and can likely identify situations which may make them uncomfortable. Before bringing your pup to a dog park, swing by on your own first and observe how the dogs (and their parents) behave. Are there any aggressive dogs? Is there a separate area for small dogs and larger ones? Are the parents paying attention to their pups? Is there a double-gate entry to the off-leash area so that there’s no possibility of your dog running into traffic? Make sure the park is an environment where your dog will be comfortable before introducing them to it.
Closely Watch Your Dog
Once you’ve determined that your dog will be safe and happy at the park, it’s still important to stay vigilant. Instead of scrolling through your phone or focusing on other pet parents, keep an eye on how your pup is interacting with others. Pay attention to their body language and the dogs around them. If your dog seems fearful or anxious, or begins acting aggressive with others, remove them from the park before the situation escalates.
Bring the Essentials
It’s everyone’s responsibility to keep the dog park mess-free. Ensure you bring your own poop bags (some parks provide them, but the dispensers may be empty so don’t count on them) and clean up any messes your dog makes quickly. Make sure you have your dog’s leash for when they exit the off-leash area. Also, what you don’t bring is just as important as what you do bring. Avoid bringing toys or treats to the park, as this may cause conflicts with other dogs.
Ensure your dog is up-to-date on all vaccines to prevent the spread of illness, and bring your own dog bowl for water to avoid any germs lurking in the communal fountains. Check with your veterinarian for the appropriate preventative vaccines for engaging in social settings. Your veterinarian may recommend the additional treatment such as; canine influenza vaccine, leptospirosis vaccine, as well as flea and tick prevention.
Consider Dog Park Alternatives
Some dogs aren’t comfortable in dog parks, due to the conditions of the park or the behavior of the other dogs. If your goal is exercise and socialization, consider an indoor off-leash experience such as Dogtopia’s daycare. We provide a fully supervised and safe environment where you can drop your dog off for a few hours or a full day of safe socialization and exercise. You can also keep an eye on them throughout the day with our live webcams. Contact your local Dogtopia to learn more.