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If you have a dog, you’re probably already aware of just how important dog parks are for your pet. They can provide your dog with a safe, clean place to run, jump, play, and interact with other dogs and humans alike. However, they can also be risky, so it’s important to practice good dog park safety any time you go.
In this article, we’ll provide several of the most important safety tips to help you get ready for your trip to the dog park. Whether this is your first time visiting or you’ve been going for years, brush up on these tips to keep your pet safe.
Skip the Toys
Don’t bring toys with you to the dog park, no matter how tempting it may be. It is possible to pack a ball or Frisbee in your dog’s bag and keep it hidden until you arrive, then only remove it if you and your dog are the only ones there. Otherwise, avoid playing with toys in the presence of other dogs.
Some dogs may become very protective of toys, even those that don’t belong to them. Toys could cause fights and scuffles, so skip playing with them at the park unless you’re alone.
Don’t Overtire Your Dog
An overtired dog is more likely to snap out of aggression or frustration. Overtiring can happen if you keep your dog in an overstimulating environment—like a dog park—for too long. If he’s never been before, keep your visit to about a half-hour to test the waters. From there, you can increase the time bit by bit.
Most dogs need to leave the dog park after an hour at most. This is simply because they will become too worn out from being there so long, and they may become stressed or upset much more easily. Make sure to give them plenty of water and head home when an hour has passed, if not before.
Pay Attention to Other Dogs
Don’t sit at the dog park staring at your phone, unless you and your dog are absolutely the only ones there. Pay attention to the other dogs that interact with your pet, and recognize when they may be getting too aggressive or hostile for your liking.
Understand, too, that dogs play rough sometimes and are not necessarily attacking each other when this happens. It may be helpful to watch some videos explaining canine body language to help you better understand these signs, especially if this is your first time owning a dog.
Train Obedience Commands
The better your dog is with obedience commands, the more likely he will be to respond appropriately to those commands when he’s at the dog park. It takes months and sometimes even years to teach a dog to follow commands in a distracting situation, but with hard work, you can get him to that point.
If your dog has good obedience, you can call him away from almost any situation before it gets out of hand. You can also use simple tricks and commands to distract him while another dog owner removes their own dog from the situation, instead.
Know Your Dog’s Signs
Know your dog’s body language and physical cues when something is going wrong. Recognize when he may be excited or nervous, or when he may be a little too fearful or aggressive. It may take some time to learn the difference between these states in your dog, but a strong bond between the two of you can help.
If you see your dog showing signs of fear or aggression, don’t wait until it’s too late to remove him from the situation. He may need to go calm down on a short walk alone for a while, or he might just need to go home for the day.
Follow the Rules
Although most dog parks have very similar rules, they may differ from place to place. Read and familiarize yourself with the rules so you can provide a safe environment for every dog there.
For example, if there are separate parks for small and large dogs, only take your dog into the appropriate side, regardless of his personality or temperament. Failing to do so may put you at fault if something goes wrong.
Prepare For Your Next Visit to the Dog Park
Most of the time, a visit to the dog park is fun and enjoyable for you and your pet. However, there are always some risks involved, and it’s important to make sure you do your part to protect your dog as well as others when visiting.
By following the dog park safety tips in the guide above, you can set your pet up for success during every trip to the dog park. If anything dangerous should happen while you’re there, contact your regular vet or go to the emergency vet as soon as possible to have your dog checked out. At VEG, we have locations all over the country with teams who are equipped to handle any emergency situation. When you give us a call, you will speak directly to an emergency veterinarian and your pet will always receive the care that they need.