Dog owners either love or hate dog parks. For people who don’t have a yard, the dog park is a chance for a pent-up dog to run, play and generally burn off energy. More protective dog owners see the dog park as a free-for-all with no rules and therefore no safeguards for the dogs.
More parks are popping up in communities, with some providing fenced-in areas, dog waste bags, and even separate large and small dog areas. However, most do not require vaccinations or temperament tests, and do not have supervision in the event of a dog fight. Owners are on their own to self-regulate, and the experience at the park can vary depending on what types of dogs and dog owners are present.
Here are some tips to keep your day at the dog park safe:
- Make sure your dog is healthy. Vaccinations should be current for the health of both your dog and the dogs he interacts with. Also, do not send your dog to the park with anything contagious, such as kennel cough, parasites or fleas.
- Don’t hand out treats. Food is a huge factor in the behavior of dogs, and jealousy over treats can erupt into a dog fight. Also, you never know if another dog is on a special diet.
- Know your dog and be smart. If he is a small dog threatened by larger dogs, then keep him in the small dog area. If you see signs that your dog seems stressed, remove him from the situation.
- If you unleash your dog, make sure you know where he is. It is easy to start conversing with other dog owners and lose track, but fights can break out in a matter of seconds.
- Bring a bag to clean up after your dog.