There are over 700 dog parks nationwide. These are a part of neighborhood parks and recreation facilities. More communities are enacting leash laws and more parks are being constructed as part of the developments.
Dog parks popularity comes from an increasing demand for community dog lovers to have a place to take their pets to socialize with other dogs and owners.
It is very important for dogs to have a place to exercise and dog parks certainly meet this need. There are some potential dangers and concerns that you must be aware of.
Dog Bites…not all dogs play well together and dog bites can happen…not everyone likes every person…dogs have the same social characteristics…dogs without any history of aggression can bite or be bitten. You should keep a good first aid kit handy at all times along with the following medical data.
- Microchip number
- Medical records
- phone number for your vet
- animal poison control contact data
- local veterinary emergency animal hospital information.
First Aid Kit for Dogs
- Tweezers and nail trimmers
- Saline solution
- Antibiotic ointment
- Sterile pads and bandages
- Remember you can treat many minor injuries
Parasites…fleas, ticks can live on your pet and fall on the grass and stay in the facility until your dog comes by. Make sure you have a year-round flea tick control program.
Worms…dog with worms can share their problem with other dogs when they have a bowel movement. Worms can live for days on the ground and infect you dog as he eats grass or licks the fur of another dog.
Kennel cough…this infectious condition is very contagious and is spread through the air. There is a vaccine for this that is recommended.
These are some on the most ordinary infectious problems that dogs can get from each other. There are other possibilities that can happen, not only in the park, but any walk where dogs interact or have been.
- Make sure you bring a poop removal device or bag
- Do not bring an aggressive animal
- Do not let your pet wander far away and keep your eye on him
- If the park is located near residences, minimize the noise
Be sure to take the necessary precautions to protect your dog at all times. Check with your veterinarian for other recommendations for your area. If you follow these suggestions, you and your pet can have a nice experience at the dog park.
“See Things from a Husky’s Perspective”
When someone says let’s go to the dog park so the dogs can get some exercise and play with other dogs, it sounds like a very good thing to do. However the truth of the matter is that taking your beloved pooch to a park filled with unstable, chaotic, and for the most part unsupervised canines can be both frustrating and dangerous. When we think of a park we have visions of blankets spread out and picnic baskets filled to the brim with delicious foods. People relaxing and socializing, children laughing and playing tag or catch baseball. Beautiful right?
Everybody loves a day at the park. Owners sometimes envision the same scenario with taking their dog to the park, they believe their dog will play and socialize with other dogs, and it will be a chance for the owner to have some, “me time”, maybe have a coffee, chat on the phone, or to other people in the park. Here is where the problem lies, dogs are not humans, they do not interact with one another in the same way we do. A lot of the dogs in the park are in very unstable states of mind before they entered the park, and now they are being influenced by dozens of unbalanced dogs.
I have gone to parks just to observe dogs and their owners. I see dogs running around posturing and being dominant, fearful, anxious, and aggressive. The owners for the most part do not even know where their pooch is at any given moment. Unbalanced dogs that are left unsupervised can quickly become targets for attack from other dogs. There are so many red flags in a dog park that as a dog trainer who practices the art calm and assertiveness, I have to leave because the tension and possibility for turmoil is too much for me to handle, and I can’t just walk up to people and start telling them they are doing it all wrong. I would not be very popular.
When dogs are let loose together with no clear pack leader to show them how to properly meet other dogs in a polite and respectful way, they will take it upon themselves to assert dominance in order to maintain control. This means when a dominant/aggressive dog and a excited/anxious dog both want the same stick or toy, and there are no humans right there to provide rules and limitations, then this can often lead to one dog harming the other. A lot of people also get injured trying to break up a fight.
If you do go to a park, and I am sure by now you know that I do not recommend it, you must be sure to be in full control of your dog. Make sure your canine companion is in a calm and submissive state of mind before you enter the park. Spend sometime outside the fence to assess the energy inside the park. When you come into the park and let your dog off leash you must supervise not only your dog, but every pup in the park..chances are no one else is paying much attention.
Be prepared to protect your dog from potential danger and to maintain a leadership role for your dog to remain calm and have fun, but not to mirror any unstable behaviour they encounter. When you remain calm and assert your dominance as pack leader, you will help your dog to stay calm and submissive, and that energy will have an effect on the rest of the dogs, and people, in the park. There it is in a nut shell. While the dog park is supposed to be a dog and people friendly place to go and socialize, it is more often than not, quite the opposite.
There are many other options for you to have fun with your dog and provide canine companionship for your dogs social growth. Organize parties where everyone brings their dogs, keep to small at first, maybe three friends and three dogs. Go for group walks, to the beach, in the country side, or through your city. Remember this, no matter if it’s in your back yard with thee dogs or in the park with 33 dogs, it is the responsibility of the human owners to be pack leaders and role models for their dogs and to set rules and boundaries. If all people would do this for their dogs, the park would be a beautiful place indeed.