Is my Dog Ready for the Dog Park?

Rover or Spot needs some time to run, and the weather is beautiful. You may fortunately be able to give your dog a trip to a nearby dog park, where he or she can run untethered and interact with other canines. Yet before you visit such a park, you should consider whether your dog is ready for the dog park.

There are some reasons why a dog may not be ready for the dog park. First, your dog should be spayed or neutered before visiting, unless you want to be the proud grandparent of a litter of puppies. Female dogs in heat can cause fighting to break out among unaltered males, and it’s important to avoid this when possible, by not allowing a female unspayed dog in the park to create problems, or by protecting your unaltered male dog from the possibility of such fights.

Another thing you should consider as to whether you and your canine pal are ready for the dog park is your dog’s health in general. Is the dog up on vaccinations, treated for fleas, and not harboring any illness that might infect other dogs? For your own dog’s sake, don’t count on the health of other dogs at the dog park — be sure your dog is current on all veterinarian recommended vaccinations. For the sake of other animals, don’t take a sick animal to the dog park, especially if you’re unsure whether this illness is contagious.

You should evaluate the behavior of your animal to determine if he or she is ready for the dog park. Most animal trainers recommend that first your dog should respond consistently to a “come” command. Additionally, a dog may not be ready for the dog park if he or she has shown aggression to other dogs. If this is the case, you really need to control the circumstances under which your dog meets other animals, with the help of a good trainer or through behavior classes. Once the dog is reliably passive around other animals, a dog park may be the perfect day out for your dog.

However, some animal trainers are quick to point out that you can vouch for your own dog, but you can’t vouch for other dogs’ behavior once you get to the park. You might want to visit dog parks during off hours, as for example toward evening, when there are fewer dogs there. Sometimes when dogs get together in packs it can be overwhelming; so normally visiting when there are a fewer dogs can be to your dog’s advantage. Remove your dog from the park if you note another animal being aggressive, or survey the park first and watch the behavior of other animals before you enter the dog park.

There are some alternatives to dog parks if you’d like to give your dog some “nearly” off leash time. You can take a dog to a secluded beach, field, et cetera, and use a long rope 25-50 feet (7.62-15.24 m) attached to the dog’s leash or collar, which will allow them to run for a distance. This can prove a great way to help dogs get extra exercise, while still keeping them on leash.

On the other hand, if you feel your dog is ready for the dog park, there are a few last minute suggestions. Bring along some water for the dog to drink, and a towel in case there’s a water play area in the park. You also might want to bring a treat or two, but don’t bring these into the confines of the park unless you can keep them well concealed. If you give treats to your dog in the park, you might find yourself the center of attention for every dog there. Don’t forget to take some clean up bags so you can help keep the park a nice environment for all dogs and their owners.


Discuss this Article

Post 3

I take my dogs to the dog park about once a week. We have a large fenced in yard where they can run around and exercise at home. I like to take them to the park just for a change of scenery, and they seem to really enjoy playing with all of the other dogs.

In all of my time spent at the dog parks, I have never had a serious problem. Some dogs are more aggressive than others, and some will growl and snap, but as long as the owners are keeping watch over their animals you shouldn't have any problems, except maybe getting your dog to leave when it is time to go home.

Post 2

If you don't have a large fenced in yard or some other good place for your dog to run and exercise then a dog park can be a life saver. When my girlfriend lived in an apartment with her dog, she would walk him regularly, but the dog was young and very active, so walking the animal simply was not getting the desired results.

The dog would have way too much energy at night and he would be ready to play and burn off energy when my girlfriend needed to be sleeping. Once she was able to find a dog park near her apartment the dog was set. He would run and play so hard at the park that all he wanted to do at night was lie down and go to sleep.

Post 1

Times have really changed. I remember when you simply had to let your dog run free to get his exercise. Granted we lived in the country, but even people in town were able to let their dogs roam the neighborhood when I was a kid.

Anyway, I think it is impossible to predict what will happen when you take your dog to the dog park. If your dog has not been around other dogs regularly then his personality will most likely change once he reaches the park and is among the other dogs.

Take the advice given in this article, but you should still expect the unexpected and be prepared to react to whatever pops up.

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