Dog parks can be great places for having fun with your dog, socializing, and providing exercise for both you and your dog. However, there are some precautions you should take. First, ask your vet about getting a Bordatella vaccine. With a large number of dogs in one place, kennel cough can spread quickly.
When you first enter the dog park, keep your dog on the leash as you walk along the inside perimeter of the fence to make sure that there no holes or breeches of any kind including holes where dogs might have tried to tunnel out. Where there are gated entrances, make sure that they are securely shut.
Not all dog owners are true guardians of their pets. Sometimes dogs are dropped off in the morning while the owner goes to work or shop. The dog is then picked up hours later. This is irresponsible, but it does continue at many dog parks.
Some dogs at the park can be aggressive. My alpha was once attacked by a larger dog. Other dogs, hearing her yelping, came rushing toward us to possibly join in the attack. My two other dogs, in true pack fashion, stood their ground and defended us by snarling and barking at the charging dogs, who then stopped in their tracks.
The attacking dog’s owner came and was able to pull it off my dog, but left without an apology or offer to pay for the vet’s bills. I was too busy to think about that at the time as I made sure my baby was alright. She was left with cuts on her ears and face but thankfully she was not seriously hurt. A trip to the vet for a check-up and antibiotics was the next course of action. However, she is now wary of other dogs and is no longer as friendly. Therefore, you must be very careful at dog parks. Here are some other things to consider:
If you have a small dog and there is a separate small dog area, use it.
As the dogs are playing, they can sometimes trip or stumble into small holes in the grass. This can lead to sprains and other injuries. Find out if the park is using fertilizers, pesticides, snail bait, etc. If you think some chemicals were used, wash your dog’s legs and paws and watch for any signs of distress. Contact your vet immediately if necessary.
Pick up your dog’s poop immediately. Commonly called landmines, these piles can host a number of diseases and parasites. (Read our article “Walking Your Dog at Night” on our Dog Safety page for a list of some of the diseases found in feces.) Even though most dog parks have poop sticks to use bring some plastic bags with you.
On hot days make sure that your dog is getting plenty of water and takes breaks from playing. Signs of overheating include excessive panting, lethargy, or vomiting.
Above all, make it a good day of bonding with your pooch. Be careful and have fun.
© Bruce Malter, PawPassion.org