Dog parks are designed for canines to run around and play. The area is enclosed, so it is safe to let your pup off his leash and stretch his legs. Some dog parks have separate enclosures for dogs of different sizes. Others allow dogs of all shapes and sizes to socialize together.
In addition to allowing canines to release energy and socialize, most Americans agree dog-friendly spaces make excellent additions to local communities. A 2018 survey found that 91% of Americans felt local dog parks benefit the areas they serve.
If you are heading to your local dog-friendly park, make sure you and your pooch are well-prepared. Our guide below explains the best practices to ensure a safe and healthy afternoon at the dog playground.
Preparing for Your First Dog Park Visit
The more prepared you are, the safer the adventure will be for you and your dog. Know what to do before, during, and after a trip to the nearest dog park to ensure your doggo has a tail-wagging good time.
Check Out the Park Alone First
Before bringing your pup to a new outdoor or indoor dog park, scope out the area by yourself. Check that it is a safe and well-maintained pet park. If you don’t like what you see, find another pet-friendly park for Fido.
A safe dog park includes:
- Sturdy fencing
- Enough open space for dogs to roam freely
- Benches for pet owners to chaperone their canines
- Shade for pets and owners
- Waste stations
- Signage explaining the rules of the dog park
Slowly Acclimate Your Dog
Dogs, especially senior dogs, can feel overwhelmed by large groups of canines. To prevent anxiety and ensure your dog gets along with other pets, slowly acclimate him to the park.
When you arrive, keep your dog on a leash. Take a lap around the outside of the dog park together. Pause and let Fido sniff and explore. Do not force your pooch to approach other dogs. Let him do that on his own and at his own pace.
The first trip to the dog park may not be an unleashed experience, and that’s okay. It is more important that your dog enjoys himself, avoids trouble, and feels excited to go back again.
Just as you pack up a baby bag, you should do the same when taking a trip to your local dog park. The first excursion may involve overpacking, but after a few journeys to the park, you will have a better idea of what your dog needs.
First things first, your dog should arrive at the park wearing a collar with ID tags. Your pooch should be also be microchipped. Yes, dog playgrounds are enclosed. But accidents happen. If your dog manages to escape, you need to know he can be traced or identified.
Second, pack a leash. You will need to keep your dog leashed when walking to and from the park’s entrance. You may also need to pull out the leash if your dog acts out or encounters problems with other doggos.
Next, stock up on poop bags. A well-kept dog park should provide bags, but supplies can run short. Come prepared with at least one bag for each of your dogs.
Always bring water and a bowl. Your dog is going to work up a thirst. Having water at-the-ready ensures Fido stays well-hydrated.
Finally, keep a towel in your vehicle. Outdoor dog parks can get muddy, and a towel prevents a messy car ride home.
Pay Attention to Your Dog’s Behaviors
While at the dog park, pay close attention to your canines. Pet parents should not sit on the sidelines peering at their phones. They need to keep an eye on their pooches to ensure nothing goes wrong.
Keep an eye out for signs your dog feels stressed, tired, or irritated. These warning signs include:
- Panting and pacing
- Cowering in the corner of the park
- Digging or attempting to escape
- Excessive chewing, barking, growling, or howling
- Laying down
If your pup starts to exhibit any of these behaviors, it’s time to pack up and go home.
What Not to Bring to the Dog Park
If it’s your pooch’s first time hitting up the dog park, take action to ensure a smooth trip. One bad experience can leave your doggo injured, anxious, or traumatized.
Taking a young pup to the dog park is dangerous. They can get attacked by bigger dogs or contract venereal diseases. Avoid bringing a puppy to a dog park until it is at least 17 weeks old. That gives the pup enough time to receive necessary shots, learn basic obedience training, and get microchipped.
Toys, Treats, or Food
A trip to the dog park is an opportunity for socialization and exercise. It is not a picnic. Therefore you should not be packing treats or food. Bringing food to a dog park can lead to aggression and dog fights.
Leave Fido’s favorite toys at home, too. It’s perfectly fine to pack a tennis ball or frisbee. But keep in mind that whatever you bring might not return home. If your pup gets possessive with certain toys, leave those at the house.
Playgrounds are for children, and dog parks are for canines. A dog-friendly park is chaotic enough, so do not add small children to the mix. Toddlers can get bumped by larger dogs or find themselves in the middle of a dog fight. Leave young kids at home and focus on Fido at the dog park.
Natural Products to Keep Your Dog Mobile
A trip to the dog park is a fun and safe adventure as long as you are well-prepared. Follow our guide, and your pup is guaranteed to have a positive experience.
In addition to socializing, dog parks are a way for dogs to get exercise. Regular exercise is essential for healthy joints. If your dog is experiencing discomfort performing daily activities, our Advanced Mobility Pack can help.
From Hemp Seed Oil to Organic Turmeric, Pet Honesty’s Advanced Mobility soft chews are jam-packed with natural nutrients. These dog chews help support a healthy inflammatory response and promote mobility to ensure your pooch can keep up with other canines at the dog park.
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