Dog parks are a great way to let your pup burn off some energy and play with others. For many dogs, especially those who live in the city, it’s the only chance they have to truly run. For highly social dogs, the opportunity to be around other dogs is crucial for their happiness.
However, it’s not a good idea to just show up at the dog park unprepared and spend the entire time on your phone. While each park has its own rules, here are 6 rules that everybody should follow any time they visit a dog park to ensure the health and safety of everybody.
#1 – Make sure your dog is current on vaccinations and parasite control
The rabies vaccine may be the only one required by law where you live, but there are many other vaccinations that are recommended for dogs who socialize with others. Depending on where you live, your vet may recommend distemper, bordetella, leptospirosis, and/or canine influenza vaccines to keep your dog safe while he plays. Your dog should also be protected against parasites like fleas, ticks, and lice.
#2 – Pay attention
A lot can happen in a few moments while your attention is anywhere other than your dog. You should constantly be vigilant about watching the body language of your dog and those around him to ward off potential fights before they start. You need to make sure he doesn’t find his way into some other trouble, like jumping the fence and running away. And you need to be paying attention to when your dog poops in order to be able to follow rule #3…
#3 – Clean up after your dog
Poop isn’t just gross, it contains pathogens and parasites that can make other dogs (or people) sick. In extreme cases, dog parks and other off-leash areas have been closed down, either temporarily or permanently, due to people not picking up their dog’s poop. If you love your dog park, make sure it stays open by cleaning up after your dog and encouraging others to do the same.
#4 – Teach basic obedience first
Your dog needs to know how to sit, stay, and come when called before letting him run off leash. These commands can help save your dog’s life – and will at least make it easier to get your dog out of the park when it’s time to go home.
#5 – Keep your dog’s leash on until you’re inside the park…
…And be sure to take it off once you get inside. Many dogs react differently when they are on a leash, and this can cause conflict inside a dog park. But you also need to keep your dog safe getting him from the parking lot into the park. Most dog parks include a small double-gated area for leashing and unleashing dogs.
#6 – Don’t get in the middle of a dog fight
Getting in between two dogs who are fighting is a great way to be bitten yourself. Check out these tips on how to safely break up a dog fight (if the dogs are actually fighting and not just playing aggressively).
(H/T: Vet Street, iHeartDogs)