Dogs are naturally social creatures, and they love to have playtime with their owners and furry friends. Dog parks are the perfect place for your canine pal to run around and socialize with other pups and people.
Whether you’re an expert dog park attendee or this is your first time, here are six tips to make your experience safe and enjoyable.
1. Spend Some Time Researching
The first park you come across may not be the best fit for you and your furry friend. Spend some time researching the rules and expectations for each park in your area. If possible, visit the parks in person without your dog. This will provide you with the opportunity to judge the space without your pet getting overly excited or distracted.
Here are some things to think about:
- Are the owners paying attention to their pets?
- Do the other animals appear friendly?
- How crowded is the area? Is there room for social distancing?
- Is the location clean and well-kept?
Look for a park that is secure, well-maintained and friendly. If you’re more focused on spending quality time with your dog playing fetch or running around, then you should look for a spacious location and evaluate the quietest periods of the day. If you go when it’s busy, you’ll have less space, and other dogs may try to involve themselves in your play session.
2. Get Your Pup Vaccinated
Your pup will likely be playing off-leash and interacting with other dogs and people at the park. Therefore, it’s crucial they wear an identification tag. They’ll also need to be up to date on vaccinations. Your vet can explain the timing and frequency that your dog will require their shots each year. However, you should still check the local laws regarding the rabies vaccine as it can vary by state.
3. Follow Social Distancing Requirements
You should follow the social distancing requirements as mandated by your state. The CDC recommends maintaining 6 feet of distance with anyone outside of your household. Additionally, you should wear a mask and avoid sharing objects with other people. To minimize the spread of the virus, try to visit the park when there are fewer people outside.
It’s important to keep your hands clean, so bring hand sanitizer in case bathrooms aren’t available at the park. Adequately cleaning park and playground equipment requires either a 70% alcohol solution, a bleach solution or household disinfectants. Such serious cleaning solutions emphasize the importance of taking precautions during a pandemic.
3. Bring the Necessary Supplies
Before embarking on your dog park adventure, you’ll want to make sure you have the necessary supplies packed. At a minimum, you should bring dog treats, water and waste bags. You’ll also need a leash or harness to guide your furry friend to the park.
Does your pup have a favorite treat? You’ll want to read up on the park rules, as some won’t allow food into the fenced area. However, you should always bring at least a few to leave in your car. You can use them to reward your dog for their good behavior after a successful outing.
If the park does allow treats, proceed with caution. Giving your pet food around other animals may spark jealousy. You’ll likely receive unwanted attention from nearby dogs, and some may even display signs of resource guarding. It’s best to only feed your furry friend, as you won’t know if any of the other pups have food allergies.
Like humans, dogs can get dehydrated. Make sure you bring clean water and a bowl so that your pup has plenty to drink. On average, puppies require more water than adult dogs, but it’s always safer to bring more water than you believe is necessary.
As you might expect, it’s your responsibility to clean up after your pooch. Stay prepared by remembering to bring waste bags. If it’s something you regularly forget, leave some in your car or attach a small roll to your keychain.
4. Exercise Beforehand
Young animals are known for having bundles of energy. Meeting new people and socializing with canines can make them very excited and overly rambunctious. Curb some of this fervor by exercising them before going to the park. A casual walk or jog will help burn energy allowing them to act with more restraint when they finally go in to play.
5. Remain Alert
It’s tempting to read a book or mindlessly browse your phone while your pup runs around with the other dogs. However, you must remain alert and keep an eye on your furry friend. Casual play can quickly turn aggressive, and you’re less likely to notice the warning signs if you’re otherwise engaged.
You can talk with people while keeping a watchful eye but remain mindful that your dog’s safety is your responsibility.
6. Practice Commands
Spending an afternoon at the dog park can be a real treat for you and your canine pal. However, your dog needs to understand basic commands. Their ability to listen to your while out of the house makes a significant difference in the overall experience. You should feel confident in your pet’s training before bringing them around other canines off-leash. Practice regularly to ensure you’re dog’s receptive to your directions.
Ultimately, safety should be your first priority. Always follow the park rules and leave your dog off-leash unless otherwise instructed. Off-leash, a pup can run away or defend itself should aggression from another dog occur. With these six tips in mind, you’ll be ready to experience a fun and safe adventure at the dog park this year.