Pet Tip: Dog Parks
Dog parks are the fastest growing segment of city parks in the United States. They can be a great way for you and your four-legged friend to enjoy some time outdoors. Follow these helpful suggestions to assure that the day ends safely:
Obey all rules and regulations. Practice general courtesy by picking up your dog’s messes, as no one wants to step in your dog’s mess any more than you do. Try to remain civil toward other pet owners, and remove yourself and your dog if there are any disagreements that could escalate further.
Pay attention to your dog at all times, especially if it is your first visit. Understand general signals, postures, and social behavior of dogs, and learn to recognize any signs of aggression, stress, tension, fear, or other threatening behavior, and learn to differentiate it from playing. Know when to step in and separate your dog from others to prevent fights that may lead to injuries. Don’t allow other dogs to threaten or intimidate your dog, and if they don’t leave, remove your dog. On the other hand, watch your own dog for over-excitement or bullying behavior, and avoid putting other dogs or people at risk for injury by leaving if they are showing these signals.
Make sure your older dog is up to date on vaccinations and has a valid license. Don’t bringing puppies younger than 4 months old, or one that hasn’t been fully vaccinated. There are risks of dogs transmitting illnesses such as rabies or kennel cough to one another through close contact. Protect your dog by avoiding the dog park if they are ill or not up to date on vaccinations.
Introduce your dog slowly to other dogs by allowing them to greet other dogs through the fence before entering the park. If your dog does not have much experience socializing with other dogs, introduce your pet to dogs in other situations. This will give you a better idea of how they will react to others. If your dog is not friendly or polite to others, get help with a trainer to correct any unwanted behavior before bringing your pet to a dog park.
Do not take your pet to a dog park if they haven’t been spayed or neutered. The same goes for a female dog in heat. Dogs use scent to communicate with one another, and unaltered pets or those in heat send out signals that can cause fights or other problems.
Think safety before bringing your pet to a dog park. Avoid peak temperature hours, and watch for heat exhaustion. If the park is not equipped with clean water for pets to drink, bring your own. Carry a cell phone, and have the number of the local animal control agency available to report any aggressive dog or person that won’t leave the park.
Bringing your pet to a dog park should be an enjoyable experience for both you and your pet, and following these tips will help ensure that you both have a good time at the dog park.