Dog parks can offer a lot of benefits to dogs but they also require a careful owner to make sure that the trip to the dog park is a positive experience. While they provide the opportunity to run, play and interact with other dogs there are also potential risks. The California Veterinary Medical Association has shared 9 tips to keep your dog safe and happy at the dog park.
- Make sure your dog is current on its vaccinations. You can’t assume that all dogs at the dog park are up to date on their vaccinations, so keeping your dog vaccinated will protect him from diseases that other dogs might carry.
- Socialize your dog. Your dog needs to be comfortable around other dogs and people before you set foot in a dog park. Too many fights break out because dogs are not socialized and an un-socialized dog in a high-energy atmosphere like this has higher anxiety and a shorter fuse.
- Watch your dog. By keeping an eye on your dog, you can see warning signs and stop fights before they happen.
- Bring your own water and dog bowl. Many dog parks do not have water available; those that do have bowls are shared by hundreds of dogs.
- Clean your dog’s paws before leaving the park. Parasites and diseases can spread from the soil to your dog through its paws, so clean them off before you take those bugs home with you. Or use paw protectors to keep the paws from getting contaminated in the first place.
- Have your dog checked for parasites regularly. If the dog park is a regular stop for you and your dog, let your vet know. The vet can do checks for parasites during your normal visits.
- Ask your vet questions about the dog park. Knowing your dog’s history, your vet can give you suggestions specific to your dog on how to keep them safe.
- Follow the rules. Dog parks usually have rules posted for the safety of everyone, ranging from allowances of intact dogs (no females in heat, for example) to minimum age requirements for children.
- Take responsibility. You are responsible and legally liable for your dog, so it’s important to make sure you’re doing all you can to make it a positive experience for everyone.
By following these safeguards you can ensure your dog's safety while at the same time making your trip to the local dog park fun for you and your pooch.
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