Dog parks can be a great way to burn off some energy and socialize with other dogs!
Check out these important tips to keep your pooch safe at the park!
- Visit the park by yourself first to observe the dogs and owners to decide if you are comfortable with the park. A park full of aggressive dogs and careless owners may not be the best fit for you and your dog.
- Try to go play during off peak hours. Weekends and after work hours can be busy and may be intimidating to your dog.
- Consider a park that has separate areas for large and small dogs. Large dogs may see the smaller breeds as prey and cause harm to a smaller dog.
- Pups should also be at least 4 months before going so that they can be current on vaccines, and mature enough to play with the pack. Call us at Granville Veterinary Clinic at 740-587-1129 to make sure your dog is current on vaccines! Keeping your dog up to date on flea and tick prevention is also essential, since wildlife and other dogs can spread fleas and ticks in the park. We can help with this!
- Avoid a visit to the park if your female is in heat. This will just start a fight between the males trying to get her attention. Some parks have rules against intact males.
- Don’t take treats. Dogs will compete for them which can lead to fights. Leave them in the car and reward your pooch after the play session.
- Your dog should wear a collar and tags in case of an escape. Remove choke or prong collars before entering the play area.
- Bring water to the park. Your dog will be thirsty after playing. Limit intake to a small amount at a time.
- Beware of heat exhaustion- look for signs of overheating (see our blog article http://granvillevet.com/tips-to-help-your-dog-in-the-heat/).
- Understand aggressive versus play behavior. Aggressive behavior includes growling, bared teeth, and raised hackles. Some dogs bark and growl while they play, but many dogs do not like to partake in this rough play. Remove your dog if he does not appear to be enjoying this kind of play, or if the other dogs are ganging up on him. Do not get in the middle of a dog fight. Instead, throw something at them to distract them. You can also spray them with a hose but this may not be possible at a dog park. Use a stick instead of your hands to separate fighting dogs.
- If you know your dog is not well socialized or has aggressive tendencies, do not take them to the dog park. You could be liable if your dog injures another dog or person.
- Watch your dog at all times, just like you would watch your child at a playground. This is not the time or place to be on your phone or reading a book.
- Don’t bring young children to the dog park. Not all dogs may be used to kids running around and making noise. This can incite their prey drive, and the dogs may pack up and go after a child.
Dog parks can be a great way to provide stimulation for you and your pooch but it is critical to be safe about it!