A Day at the Park

There seems to be a trend these days for more and more dog parks….I see them popping up everywhere and for every “pro” about building one, there is a “con” as well.  While they do provide great opportunity for exercise and dog-to-dog socialization when used properly, they can also have many problems when not used in the manner in which they were intended. 

Dog parks, like every other park, have rules of etiquette which must be followed if things are going to run smoothly…. With that in mind, I’ve taken note of a few issues and common sense rules that, for some reason, can get overlooked….  Here goes….

If your dog has any hostilities towards other dogs, do NOT bring your dog into the dog park while there are others there! Can we say… DUH?????  This is SO easy to figure out.

But SO commonly seen!  You, as a dog owner, are FINANCIALLY responsible for any damages your dog inflicts upon either another dog (or a person for that matter!)…  No need to say more, I hope.

If your dog has any contagious health issues, keep it home.  Germs and diseases (Giardia, parasites such as Tapeworms, Kennel Cough, Parvovirus, etc) are easily transmissible from dog to dog (Don’t tell me you have never seen a dog sniff another dog’s, um, remnants)…..

If you bring your dog’s toy into the park, and another dog tries to get it, chances are there will be an issue.  If an actual fight breaks out (see paragraph about hostile dogs!) never, EVER try to grab a dog near their head to break up the fight.  Grab a tail or a rump.  You may still get bitten but chances might be less!  This reminds me – You’d better have GOOD recall on your dog – Voice control is essential in cases where it looks like their might be trouble.  Better yet, leave the dog toys at home.

Keep a leash on your dog when entering or exiting the park area.  First, it will keep your dog from running off and possibly getting hit by a car.  Second, it will allow your dog (and the other dogs at the park) to adjust for a few seconds….  Let Fido take in who is there, etc., and the already established crew will be able to take in Fido’s presence as well… 

Be aware of any foreign objects in the area – glass (especially broken glass), plastic bottles, etc,…  Anything that can harm your dog should be removed.  Hey, it’s YOUR park – keep it clean!

Speaking of keeping it clean…… POOP.  You heard me!  POOP… There is nothing worse than dog poop being stepped on – either by you or by Fido….  YUCK!!!  This is one of the reasons why dog parks came into being in the first place!  People got sick and tired of dog poop on playing fields.  So PICK IT UP….  Jeeze….

Fill in the holes if your dog is a digger.  Unseen holes can cause extreme pain and injury to both other dogs and to people who step in them!  Besides, it looks better when it doesn’t look like a land mine area!

Keep your KIDS under control…. There is nothing worse than having to keep an eye on your dog AND someone else’s kids!  Some dogs are herding dogs by nature and kids running around just triggers that instinct.  Besides that, if I go to the dog park to play with my DOG, I really don’t want to have to be afraid that your child and my dog will have an issue.

Bringing puppies under five months old into a dog park is just not a good idea.  Dogs have germs.  Puppies have immune systems that aren’t strong yet.  Exposure to dog germs can be a great hazard to puppies.  Please keep puppies out!  And make SURE your adult dogs’ vaccinations are up to date!!!!

Don’t bring more dogs into a dog park than you can physically handle.  This means no more than two dogs with one owner.  I know that I can’t run in two different directions if there are problems – Betcha you can’t, either!

Ok, so the bottom line is this – Dog parks can be a wonderful way to exercise your pet.  BUT they can also be a nightmare.  Please, PLEASE use common sense.  Each park has rules and regulations and they should be posted in a prominent location.  By following those rules, dog owners (and dogs) can have the healthy, happy time they’re supposed to have at these places.  After all, they were designed with your pooch in mind!


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