One of the things I most looked forward to as a dog owner was taking our dogs to the dog park; watching them play, and meeting other dog owners. And for a while we had a blast with our dogs, but then one of our dogs was attacked by another dog. I chalked it up to bad luck and we went on having a great time. Then our pack grew and the dog park was no longer safe for our dogs.
Dog parks are a great place to socialize your dog. After a puppy receives a full series of vaccinations and an okay from your veterinarian, a trip to the dog park may be the first visit on your list. But there are a few things you should be aware of before heading off with your dog...
7 Tips for the Dog Park
1. Don't take un-vaccinated puppies to the dog park.
There are many risks including canine parvovirus, giardia and kennel cough. Until your puppies are fully protected, it's best to play with them at home. We waited until we received our vet's okay before visiting the dog park.
2. Don't forget your dog poop bags.
It's pretty embarrassing being caught without a dog poop bag. Many dog parks I've visited have dog poop bag dispensers and dog owners bring extra, so it's not the end of the world, but don't count on this every time. I keep a roll in my purse and 2 rolls in my car.
3. Don't take toy or food aggressive dogs to the dog park.
Some dog owners bring flyers and balls to the park for their dogs. They don't mind sharing with other dogs, but if you bring a dog that is toy possessive, it'll ruin the fun for everyone. We're raising 4 dogs and one of our dogs is toy possessive and a jerk at the dog park. We leave him at home.
4. Don't talk or text at the dog park.
Paying attention to your dog will keep him out of trouble. I know each of my dogs well and can tell when they're having fun and when they're stressed. When it's the later, I can step in and redirect their focus, returning them to fun. And paying attention will allow you to know when your dog has had enough and it's time to leave.
5. Go to the dog park with friends.
I've found that meeting friends at the park makes the day a lot more fun. We prefer to go early in the morning or right before dusk when fewer visitors are at the park. Our dogs now have friends who are safe playmates for our pack.
6. Wear clothing you don't mind getting dirty.
I rarely leave the dog park without at least one set of paw prints on my pants or jacket so I dress accordingly. Old jeans or sweats, running shoes on dry days, rain boots on wet days, and a bag to carry supplies (poop bags, wet naps, my keys and my cell phone).
7. Bring an extra leash.
It's always a great idea to carry an extra leash in your car just in case you lose one or you come across a dog who is separated from his owner.
For more tips on raising dogs, visit Keep the Tail Wagging.