Safe and Sound: 4 Must-Know Tips for Ensuring Dog Park Safety
The dog park can be a dangerous place for the unprepared, so when venturing into an off-leash play area with your canine companion, follow our tips to keep them safe.
#1: Protect your dog against infectious diseases
Reputable dog parks require proof of vaccination before granting access, so your dog will need—at a minimum—to be current on their rabies, distemper, parvovirus, and bordetella vaccinations. Canine influenza, parainfluenza, and leptospirosis vaccinations also may be required or recommended, so ensure your pup is up to date before heading to the park.
#2: Visit during off-times
Dog parks are typically the most crowded right after the working day is over when they’re overflowing with exuberant dogs eager to release pent-up energy. Overexcited dogs are less likely to follow proper canine etiquette, which can result in bullying situations and fights. Opt for an off-peak time to let your dog exercise so they don’t have to worry about a pack of dogs on their heels as they chase a ball.
#3: Double up on identification
Although it’s unlikely your dog will slip out of the double gate at the entrance to the park, accidents can happen. Ensure a happy reunion with your furry friend by outfitting them with several identification forms, including collar ID tags, a collar embroidered with your phone number, and a microchip.
#4: Watch for warning signals
Dog parks are not the place to teach socialization skills, so keep a sharp eye out for inappropriate behaviors or signs that your dog is uncomfortable. Stress, anxiety, and fear can appear in your dog as:
- Running away
- Tucked tail
- Excessive drooling
- Panting disproportionate to activity
- Trembling or shaking
- Cowering or exposing their abdomen
- Clingy behavior
- Lip licking
- Whale eye
- Raised hair
- Reactivity or aggression (e.g., barking, growling, nipping)
At the first hint of unease from your dog, leave the dog park before things escalate.
Off-leash dog parks are not right for every dog. Many dogs prefer one-on-one socialization, or exploring on their own, rather than in a large pack of exuberant canines. No matter what type of socialization your pooch prefers, ensure they remain protected from infectious diseases and parasites through regular preventive care. Give our team a call to schedule your dog’s annual wellness visit to stay up to date.