do's and don'ts of dog parks

do's and don'ts of dog parks
Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Apr 28 2015

As the temperatures heat up (finally!), we turn our thoughts to the great outdoors—dog parks, hiking trails or just vegging out in the grass. This is a perfect time to review some dog park/hiking trail do’s and don’ts.


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  • Take your dog to the park if he or she is unhealthy or feeling under the weather.
  • Use a retractable leash. I already feel terrible about retractable leashes, but at a dog park or hiking trail, these are a double batch recipe for disaster.
  • Feed your dog snacks or treats around other dogs. If you are using the dog park in training sessions, consider a clicker reward instead.
  • Ignore body language. Spotting impending aggression could prevent serious injuries.
  • Expect other people to watch out for your dog. This is not the time to catch up on emails or update your Facebook status. Watch your dog!
  • Take your children to the dog park.


  • Ensure that your dog is up to date on all core vaccines.
  • Keep a close eye on your dog. It only takes a second for an injury to occur or a fight to break out.
  • Let dogs “work it out” (within reason). Dogs learn social cues from other dogs, so if there’s a disagreement, give them a beat or two to work it out for themselves. Intervene if things get serious, though.
  • Make sure that your dog yields to human traffic. Good training goes a long way here — if your dog has a hard time resisting the urge to get attention from bikers and runners, keep him on a short leash.
  • Pick up after your dog. There’s nothing worse than stepping in someone else’s mess.
  • HAVE FUN! This is a great bonding time for you and your dog. If your dog is uncomfortable, being bullied or otherwise not having fun, try again another day.

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