In terms of mental and physical benefits for your pet, an afternoon at the park is like a dozen walks on a leash. They get a chance to run free and get off the leash. Your dog gets to play with other dogs.
It keeps their weight down, their muscle toned up. It keeps your dog social. So what are you waiting for let's get going?
We highly recommend an ID or name tag with your pets contact information engraved on it. You should include the dog's name, phone, and address at a minimum. Some ID tags will allow for more information, including your name and an additional phone number can’t hurt. A pet collar and sturdy leash for non-enclosed “leash dog parks.”
Finding your local dog park is as easy as clicking the link: “Dog Parks Near Me,” finding the right one is always the hard part. There are many sites on the web for people parks, just not so much for our furry friends.
Dog Parks Should Have These Standard Amenities
Garbage cans and doggie bags for cleaning up after dogs are essential for basic good health for both dogs and humans. Many canine diseases spread through feces, and feces attract insects which can spread the virus to humans. Remember the old guy yelling at you to clean up after your dog; this is a demonstration of good citizenship we all should practice.
Parks with a two-gate system are something you should look for; this system helps avoid the possibility of dogs escaping from the park, the second gate also will increase the safety of all the dogs.
There should be a pleasant shady area where dogs can lay down, cool themselves, and rest before continuing their active play. Dogs must often drink to cool themselves; dogs can’t cool themselves as efficiently as humans. Dogs play very strenuously in dog parks. Water is an absolute necessity; if there is no water available, it is possible that dogs may suffer from extreme heatstroke, which can be fatal.
Get some elbow room to avoid crowding. If dogs become too grouped up, it is much easier for a “bad dog” or a pack of evil dogs to corner and harass other dogs. Fights break out more often under overcrowded conditions.
Exceptional Park Features
Round fences help to prevent mean dogs from bullying or attacking dogs compared to barriers which have 90-degree angles; these corners allow dogs to corner other dogs. Fencing without a 90-degree perspective makes it easier for a dog to escape the bullying or attack.
Several entrances and exit gates if the park is fenced - If there are one entrance and exit gate, or one door and one exit gate, the dogs in the enclosure quickly learn where newcomers will enter. Dogs will assemble at the one entrance, which can result in dogs escaping or fighting on the way in, they will not target a particular gate if there are several entrances.
A separate enclosed area for small dogs, under 20 lbs is ideal. It can be very treacherous to take a little dog to a park frequented by large dogs. The big dog may not mean to hurt the smaller dogs, but they can play too rough, or they may see the little dog as a prey animal and pick it up and shake it, which can be fatal.
Great dog parks have enclosed areas specifically for small dogs. The new enclosure keeps them safe, yet still allows them to socialize, which is especially important for smaller dogs.
Fun stuff (agility equipment, etc.) A park that provides material for dogs to practice their fundamental skills is an exceptional park. Having some essential agility equipment and exercise equipment is a fun way for dogs and owners to interact together. It also shows signs of a good dog park by providing its users what they seek to enhance their experience.
A pet park is either the perfect place to socialize and exercise your dog, or the best place to traumatize your dog. That perception is a reality, but these two perceptions are worlds apart. Which one is right?
They both are. Your local dog park can be a terrific place to take your dog, throw a tennis ball around and play catch, provided it is well-constructed, well-maintained, and well-monitored. It can also be you and your dog’s worst nightmare.
What determines which perception will be your reality?
The bummer reality is that fenced dog parks are not the oasis; most people think they are. But they can be. Here are the most common mistakes people get wrong, so you can avoid repeating.
A dog or pet owners number one priority at any park is a dog or pet, not a conversation with other pet owners. Think of it like taking a baby to a beach, putting them in the water with other children, and then turning your back on them to chat with other parents - not a good idea.
Too many people let loose in dog areas if their dog is in a fenced park and then have a friendly chat with other dog owners. Unless you have eyes on the back of your head, your chatting, and not watching, you can take your pet to a leash area for a conversation. Dog parks are for dogs; social media is for chit chat or a coffee shop.
You are not picking up after a dog.
Let's start with something simple like sanitation. First, it's merely good manners to scoop up after your dog. It's gross to walk into a park full of dog poop mines everywhere and worse; it's awful for your pets.
There are a lot of viruses, bacteria, and parasites living in dog waste that other dogs can contract when they eat it, roll in or even touch. Gross any way you look at it. So let's avoid the spread and follow this simple etiquette rule. Bringing extra poop bags for other owners will give you some props.
Be part of your fur babies life, put the phone down.
Don’t be playing a round of Fortnite while your pooch manages to steal someone’s purse right off their shoulder and then does a victory circle around the park, keeping their prize in its slobbering mouth out of reach. That’s an offense worthy of some significant dog-house time for humans.
Your dog doesn’t have to have an obedience school diploma to do well at the park, as long as he knows the most basic command - “come.” Remember the story about putting the kids in the water with other kids to play all alone, same goes for dogs in heat, don’t bring them. Sorry, not spayed or neutered, your pet and others are at risk.
Owners should oversee their dogs at the park (instead of looking at their cellphones), so they can break up play frequently, calling their dogs back for a quick check-in. A game that has lots of breaks does not result in dog fights, as situations de-escalate this way.
I am bringing puppies less than three months old or unvaccinated.
There are so many parasites, bugs and diseases in a dog park to begin with - I will spare you the details, it just makes you shudder. Older puppies and adult immunized dogs can mostly handle the grossness, and will maybe only pick up worms which, as an adult with a healthy immune system, they can easily survive with treatment.
However, for new pups that haven't completed their vaccines, they could pick up something like worse that their little bodies have a difficult time handling or preparing. Puppies under 12 weeks, not immunized against common diseases need to be kept well away from dog parks.
Thinking all dog parks are the same.
A well-designed park will have a double entrance with two gates. Don't run through both gates at once. First, enter the gate with your dog on a leash, then pause to look around.
A short pause will also allow other excited dogs to get used to yours. This slight pause will help other dogs not go hyper when your dog does come in.
Most problems are easily avoidable with simple manners. A little extra caution on your part will be beneficial. But don't go to the park if your furry baby:
- Isn’t tick and flea protected or not vaccinated
- Isn't spayed or neutered
You need to show your dog you are the alpha animal all the time. That’s key when other dogs are around. Teach your buddy to come to you when called.
Make up a word your pooch is not likely to hear at the park. Reward him with extra-special treats during training.
Be a lover, not a fighter.
It was once your puppy phase at a dog park. Not everybody knows their way around the facilities. If you see someone looking a little confused, show them the ropes! Your pooch maybe sporting the latest dog clothes fashions and can skateboard, great for you, but not everyone has Spuds MacKenzie as a pet.
Newbie alert: if you see someone not following the specific rules of the run, assume maybe they don’t know they’re doing wrong.
At the park, pay attention to your dog's behavior and his playmate’s body language to make sure they’re not showing signs of anxiety. Enjoyable, relaxed play is relatively easy for dog owners to spot. One dog may let out a bark, if things get a little too rough, or give their playmate a signal to provide them with space. If you notice things getting chaotic, immediately defuse the situation and take a walk with your dog.
Animal injuries are possible even worse, please if your dog is aggressive, train it not to be or bring it to obedience school before attempting to go to a dog park with other friendly dogs.
Pet owners should make sure they have a dog collar on with tags. Bring poop bags and water, as your puppy will likely be thirsty after playing at the park. For the dog owner, it’s a good idea to dress comfortably and wear closed-toed shoes - you (and your dog) can work up a sweat playing fetch!