Dog parks are becoming increasingly popular recreational places for dogs and their owners. Everybody loves playing, exercising and spending quality time outdoors, especially in the good company of animal lovers. Keeping it fun requires the cooperative efforts of all dog owners because dog parties can quickly become tragedies.
In order to keep the parks safe and disease free, you need to make sure your dog is healthy and currently vaccinated. Before the "dog park season", and at least twice a year, visit your vet for a wellness visit. Your veterinarian will make sure that your dog is healthy, fit and current on vaccinations (Rabies, Distemper-Parvo combo, Kennel cough and Lyme disease). Your dog also needs to be parasite free (negative fecal and heartworm exams) and get preventative medication for fleas, ticks, heartworms and intestinal parasites. If your dog is sick (depressed, has vomiting, diarrhea, cough or skin infection) it is best for all concerned to stay home. Sick dogs do not make good playmates and can infect other dogs in the park. The same is true with females in heat.
Take a first-aid kit with you (for you and your dog). Accidents and injuries happen, and when they do, you need to be prepared. Avoid spiked and choke collars; they are potentially hazardous. Have the current rabies tag and possibly an ID attached to the collar of your dog. A microchip ID is highly recommended, as it is embedded under the skin and never gets lost like collars do. If your dog is not "microchipped" yet, your veterinarian can do it for you - it takes only a few minutes. Also, bring a leash (an extra one is not a bad idea) along with feces disposal begs. Feces attract flies and contain germs and parasites. We don't want to leave them behind.
At the park make sure your dog obeys voice commands. Take care not to lose sight of your pet. If your dog is temperamental or aggressive, a dog park might not be such a good idea. Keep in mind you will need constant access to fresh water, especially when the weather is hot.
Dog fights occur on occasion. Bite wounds and related
traumas can be fatal. It is much easier to prevent dog fights than
to deal with them. Make sure your dog is well trained and always
responds to commands. That way he/she will come whenever called and
is well-behaved with other dogs, people, and children. Never get in
the middle of a dogfight. Your dog may not be aware of whom or what
he/she is biting when involved in a fight. Getting between fighting
dogs will not stop them, but may get you injured. Neutering your dog
decreases the likelihood of male hormone related aggression and
As long as you play it safe, the dog park playground experience will be a memorable and a joyful one.