the dirt on dog parks

Posted by Dr. Jules Benson on Jul 21 2009


If your dogs are anything like ours, they’re probably booked through summer. With all the doggie playdates, grooming appointments and weekend hikes, it’s a wonder there’s time for the dog park. But as the family social planner, you’ve agreed to check it out. After all, a party’s always better when you know who’s on the guest list anyway. So stop by your local dog park. Meet the regulars. See if the scene seems safe. This way, you can spare your best friend a scuff with neighborhood bullies.

For more dirt on dog park politics and tips for playing it safe, Petplan pet insurance teamed up with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Read on for our Do’s and Don’ts on making the dog park scene.

Dog Park Do’s

Know Before You Go. Before your dog sets paw in your local dog park, make sure you’ve seen it first. Find out if the grounds are clean, the play area’s away from traffic, and the dogs are playing well together. If you notice aggressive behavior or little human supervision, consider another park for your pet.

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Take It To Go. Pack along water, a bowl to serve it in and your dog’s favorite outdoor toy. You’ll also need a leash to enter and exit your dog park to comply with most park rules.

Sit. Stay. Good Person. The dog park is not the time to catch up on phone calls or chat with other pet parents. It’s essential that you supervise your dog at all times, maintain voice control, and have the leash in hand to remove your dog if necessary.

Leave Only Pawprints. Little things like scooping up after dogs and filling in the holes they dig, make dog parks safer for everybody. By pitching in, you’ll prevent transmission of parasites, protect paws from injury and mercifully, reduce odor.

Play Tag. Keep your dog legal and safe by keeping rabies vaccination, license and ID tags up-to-date and on the collar at all times.

Dog Park Don’ts

Pack a Snack. Dogs aren’t great when it comes to sharing treats. To avoid dog park brawls, leave the treats at home for an après-park treat.

Bring the Whole Family. Small kids might love the dog park too, but it’s not a good idea to bring them along. Spunky dogs might inadvertently knock-over a child. Or worse, the dogs may misread playful chasing and high-pitched screaming as a threat or even trigger hunting instincts. Even young dogs should wait awhile before visiting the dog park. Puppies under four months don’t have the necessary strength or vaccination protection they need for safe play with adult dogs. To keep everyone safe, focus your dog park attention on up to three vaccinated adult dogs at a time.

Overstay Your Welcome. When a dog starts acting aggressive for any reason, it’s time to go. By leaving immediately, you protect all the dogs at the park while teaching yours that bad behavior won’t be tolerated.

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