6 Off-Leash Tips For The Dog Park

Amy Tokic
by Amy Tokic
A great guideline to use before you head off to the dog park

Roll down the window – we’re going to the dog park! Dog parks can be a wonderful place to go for owners and their furry best friends. It’s an awesome place for humans and canines to socialize, to expend energy and practice proper manners. But it can also be a place to pick up a nasty bug, a bad habit or vicious bite. To keep it safe and fun, let’s go over a few things to keep in mind the next time you’re at the dog park.

Know the rules: Every dog park has its own rules posted at the entrance. Make sure you read and abide by them while you are enjoying the facilities. They are there so that everyone can take advantage of the space. Some parks are meant for smaller dogs while others cater to larger breeds. Every dog park has poop and scoop guidelines – be sure to follow them. And be aware that you are responsible for your dog’s behavior and actions while in the park.

Is your dog vaccinated?: Make sure that your dog has all of his vaccinations before he romps around at the dog park. There are lots of diseases, bugs and parasites just waiting to be picked up by an unwitting dog, and a pooch that isn’t up-to-date on vaccinations or is too young is the perfect target for these illnesses.

Eyes on your dog at all times: Yes, it’s fun to chat with other pet parents and catch up on your status updates. But it only takes a second for a situation to get out of control. And by keeping an eye on your dog, you can make sure that heart-stopping issues are prevented or kept under control. It’s important to know what your dog and others around him are doing while you are there – as a pet parent, it’s your responsibility.

How obedient is your dog? We all like to think that our dogs listen to us when we call, but it’s a different game when you throw other dogs into the mix. He may not want to listen or come when he’s having so much fun. If you’re not sure how your dog will react to voice commands, go to the dog park during off-peak hours when not many pups will be there. See how well he reacts with a handful of dogs and be sure to offer rewards when he does respond. After you start to see consistent success, slowly start to bring him to the park when you know it will be busier.

What is the energy like?: The moment you walk into a dog park, you should be able to feel the energy of the dog park. Are the dogs high strung and out-of-control? Are the humans not paying attention and talking amongst themselves? You’d best turn around and find another dog park to play in. Or are the dogs the same size as yours and calm? Do they listen to their owners when they call? Sounds like you found the right place to play!

Watch body language: There’s nothing wrong with a playful dog wrestling match, but you have to watch for signs that it may turn aggressive. When a dog has another dog pinned for longer than five seconds, it’s time to interrupt it. Just move them away from each other. If his tail is under is legs and he’s hiding under a table, it means that he doesn’t want to be there anymore – time to call it a day and go home. Don’t force him to play with the other dogs if he doesn’t want to.

Dog parks are designed to be a fun play for everyone. So before you go, make sure you’ve properly trained your dog and done your dog park homework – that way, you know you’ll be in for a positive experience!

Amy Tokic
Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic, Editor of PetGuide.com, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).

More by Amy Tokic