Dog parks can be a great place for your pup to run around and let off some steam. Plus, they get to exercise and be social with other dogs. What’s not to love? Photo by Les Chatfield (Brighton, England) The good news is that dog parks are popping up all over the nation. You may even have one right in your community. A simple Google search of the term ‘dog parks in [your zip code]’ should help you locate the nearest one. Thanks to technology, online directories like this one can also help you locate a park in your city. Simply choose a state from the list and scroll down to find the one closest to you. Now that you’ve narrowed down your dog parks, there’s a few things to keep in mind during your visit.
Dog Park Etiquette
Visit your vet first
Before stepping foot in any dog park, speak to your veterinarian. You’ll want to make sure that your dog is not only healthy enough to visit the park, but also properly vaccinated. After all, there’s no telling if the other dogs are up-to-date on their shots, so it’s best not to take the chance of getting your dog sick.
Don’t forget to bring water
Although it’s true that many dog parks provide water, it’s always a good idea to bring your own. You never know when a water fountain will become overcrowded or stop working. Sometimes the water’s completely dried out from the sun or other dogs lapping it up. And sometimes there’s no guarantee that the park even has freshwater at all. To bring your own water, you can use bottle varieties with bowl-like features attached.
Pick up after your dog
Picking up your dog’s mess is a must in any situation, but it’s especially important in a dog park where everyone is running around and having fun. No one wants to step in fresh poo. Keep an eye on your dog to make sure you know when and where she goes so you can be ready to pick it up. If you try to pick it up after the fact, you may not be able to find it and someone else unfortunately will.
Watch your dog at all times
Speaking of which, supervision is essential. Avoid using your cell phone or chatting too much with other pet parents as this can distract you from your pet’s whereabouts and safety.
Watch out for aggressive behavior
If you notice any aggressive behavior from or towards your dog, it’s best to leave. Don’t try to ‘let the dogs work it out’ or assume it’s only playful behavior. It can escalate quickly. In addition, if your small dog is being bullied by a group of dogs, do not pick them up. This will cause the dogs to jump on you. Instead, stand over your dog in an effort to get the other ones to back off. For more on aggressive behavior in pets, see "How to Handle Fighting Pets." Now that you know how to locate a dog park and how to behave in one, it’s time to get out there and have some fun!