What does everyone think of when they think of exercising their dogs? Dog parks, of course! While this can be great exercise for social pups with a little bit of emotional intelligence, dog parks are NOT for every dog. Some dogs (like my old lady Lulu) don’t thrive in an environment where they are constantly bombarded with the stimulus of other, perhaps younger or more intense, dogs. Some dogs, who are otherwise dog-friendly, can become fearful and even lash out in these situations. This can lead to dog fights, bite wounds, or other injuries!
It is important to know your dog well before braving the great unknown of a dog park. Here are a few tips:
- Do not take a new puppy to a dog park (especially one that has not had all of its vaccinations). There are a lot of dogs, people, and other kinds of things your puppy can get into that may not be safe. Not to mention, you may not know if all of the other dogs there are vaccinated.
- Never take a dog without a rabies vaccination to a dog park. Many dog parks have rules that require proof of rabies vaccination. Even the most well-meaning dogs can bite out of fear. Don’t forget that dogs can bite people too. If there is a dog fight while at a dog park, be safe and stay out of the way of a dog’s mouth.
- Know your dog! Dog-aggressive dogs are not dog park dogs. This doesn’t mean they aren’t good pets! Even my sweet Lulu gets a little bit this way when she gets overwhelmed. She sticks to leash walks with me around the neighborhood. My dog Zeus has a blast playing with other dogs when it is a safe environment for him! Always ease your dogs into a new situation with dogs you don’t know.
Dog parks can be fun and a great form of exercise for your pup! The key is not to overwhelm your dog or put them into a situation that may scare them or put them in danger. Always be aware of your surroundings, and pay attention to your pet’s anxiety level. You are your pet’s best advocate!