With cooler weather finally hitting, many of us are ready to unleash our dogs at our local dog parks. If your dogs are anything like mine, they’re full of energy and have a little extra spring in their step after a long, hot summer. Are you and your dog ready for the dog park?
Before you leave, pack a bag of doggie travel essentials. It’s a good idea to bring a first aid kit for pets, a copy of veterinary records, water and bowl, some snacks and a collar and leash. While you never want an incident to happen, some dogs just won’t get along. It’s a good idea to bring some first aid supplies in case a scuffle occurs, or if your pup should hurt herself while running headlong into a fence! Water is essential and you can’t count on the park providing doggie water fountains. Also, communal bowls that someone is kind enough to leave out can breed harmful bacteria and spread disease. Too many mouths in one place is never a good idea. Finally, reserve a healthy snack for your pup for after playtime. Like us, dogs can get tired after playing hard! Remember to keep the snacks and human food out of the dog park. Resource acquisition is a huge incentive to compete and possibly fight!
Good human etiquette is important and can make for a great or horrible dog park visit. We’ve all been to the dog park when there’s that lady on the phone, chatting away, completely oblivious that her sweet little FooFooBunny is terrorizing all the other dogs. Be aware of where your dog is at all times and whether he’s behaving nicely with other dogs. If you can’t watch your dog 100% of the time, then don’t bother to bring him to the park. You’re putting her at risk for getting hurt and you’re selling your time with her short. Help watch other people’s dogs, too. If it takes a village to raise a child, the same can be said for a dog. Get to know other dog park regulars. You never know when you might strike up a good friendship with another local dog lover. That person might be your next pet sitter or best friend!
This last tip seems rather intuitive, but it should be stated. Only take your dog to the dog park if he enjoys the company of other dogs. Taking an under-socialized adult dog to a dog park is like throwing a shy person into a huge party with no way to leave. Some dogs just prefer the company of a few dogs, family dogs, or specific canine “buddies”. Make a play date for your dog with a friend and their dog if that’s a better fit. Finally, you can’t control the actions of other people. Some people have no idea that their dog has no manners, and they wonder or even comment that their dog is always getting bitten by other dogs. Some owners ignore their dogs’ obnoxious behavior altogether. These situations can be dangerous because negative behaviors can start fights. Fights in dog parks can escalate quickly because dogs are pack animals. If you see unsafe behaviors, grab that leash from that dog park bag you prepped ahead of time, and calmly walk your pup out. It’s better to end a dog park day without incident than with a trip to the emergency vet. If you should need one, the SPCA offers their local emergency care list of contacts here.
Have fun and enjoy your time with your dog at the dog park. Prevention is key, though, and your dog counts on you to keep her safe. So now that you’re ready to go, check out some of the beautiful Dallas off leash dog parks for you to share quality time with your best four-legged friend!