While dog parks can be a wonderful place for doggie fun, exercise, and socialization, pets using dog parks are at an elevated risk of injury. Head trauma is the most common dog park injury, but sprains, lacerations, bites, kennel cough, insect bites, and heatstroke are also common.
Dr. Karen Becker offers 10 dog park safety tips. Click here to read.
- Pick the right park for your dog. Avoid parks with too many dogs, inattentive owners, aggressive pet behavior, and piles of poop. If an off-leash park, it should have a double-gate entry, provide poop bags and poop disposal containers, have separate areas for large and small dogs, have plenty of room to run, have a sheltered area, and have dog-friendly fountains.
- Age matters. Don’t bring a puppy less than 4 months old.
- Current rabies immunization (or titers) is advised.
- Avoid the park on very hot days, especially during peak temperature hours.
- Teach your dog basic commands (e.g., come, sit, stay, leave it) before introducing him to a dog park and verify he will follow the commands in the park environment.
- Bring leash, poop bags, cell phone (for emergencies) and know how to break up a dog fight.
- Pay attention at ALL TIMES! Be alert to your dog and those around him. Remove your dog if he becomes aggressive, is being bullied, or becomes overheated.
- Take care in parks where small and large dogs play in the same area.
- Know the difference between play and aggression and how to safely intervene!
- Leave the park if your dog or others become aggressive or threatening.
Finally, not all dogs like dog parks! Know your dog and don’t force him into a situation he is not ready for or does not want.