Dog parks seem to be somewhat of a controversial topic in the dog community. Some people don’t have the luxury of having a backyard for their dogs to run around in, so going to the local dog park seems like a great option. However, there also seem to be a lot of fights that happen at dog parks. I’ve been going to a local dog park at least once a week for about 2 years and I have never had a problem — not even close to one. Here are some tips to enjoying your local dog park:
KEEP YOUR EYES ON YOUR PUP
Follow you dog and make sure you have eyes on him or her at ALL times.
You need to be watching your dog at all times for many different reasons. Not only are you expected to pick up after them, but you have to be the one watching to make sure they are safe. For instance, my dog doesn’t like when other dogs try to hump him. I can tell he is uncomfortable so I am always there to either get the other dog off of him or remove him from the situation. The park we go to has 5 fenced-in acres, so there are lots of places to go when you are trying to get away from a particular dog or owner. The only con to this is some people do not watch their dogs and they will be completely out of sight.
DO NOT BRING YOUR FEMALE DOG TO THE PARK IF SHE IS IN HEAT
This one is a no-brainer. However, I have come across it before. Please, people, if your dog is in heat do NOT bring her to the park.
DON’T BRING FOOD OR TOYS YOUR PUP IS POSSESSIVE OVER
Don’t bring food into the dog park, and if your dog is possessive of their favorite tennis ball, do not bring that either.
Although your dog may be fine with food around other dogs, others may not be. It’s best to leave the treats at home (or in the car). If your dog does not know how to play nicely with their favorite toy, it should definitely not be brought to the park.
IF YOUR DOG DOESN’T ENJOY IT, DON’T TAKE THEM
Some dogs are not social butterflies. If they would rather have one-on-one time, try finding some local dog-owning friends to schedule play dates with! For instance, in Atlanta, there are a ton of neighborhood-specific and even dog-specific Facebook groups. Try connecting with somebody who lives close to you and has a similar age/size dog!
MAKE SURE THEY’RE VACCINATED AND SOCIALIZED
Make sure your dog has had all of their shots and has experience playing with multiple dogs at once.
Waiting for your puppy to be done with their shots can seem like FOREVER. Once you get that final vaccination, it’s tempting to start bringing them everywhere. They definitely should be brought to new places, but I’d hold off on the dog park for a while, especially if your puppy is on the smaller side. To make sure they have the best experience possible, try to have a few play dates with multiple dogs before trying the dog park. Once they are comfortable with that, try going to the park at an off time — maybe early in the morning or while most people are at work. Work up to a crowded time of the day, which would be around 5:30 at my local park.
DON’T BRING CHILDREN OR TODDLERS
Number 1 reason I wouldn’t do this is for the fear that another dog could harm my child. If you do bring your young children to the park, make sure they do not run or scream. They should be taught that running in the presence of dogs will make them be chased.
I could go on and on, but you really have to use your own judgement. Every park is different — some around my area I only go to during off-hours, and some I can’t go to if it has rained in the past week. I have never had a negative experience, but I understand that I may be in the minority. I think because I watch Charlie so closely, he’s good with dogs of all sizes / play styles, and he doesn’t start any rough play I haven’t had any issues. If you are trying to decide the best dog park to try out in your area, try looking at local Facebook groups and location tags on Instagram. This is how I do a lot of my own research!
I could go on and on, but you really have to use your own judgement. Every park is different — some around me I only go to during off-hours, and some I can’t go to if it has rained in the past week. I have never had a negative experience, but I understand that I may be in the minority. I think because I watch Charlie so closely, he’s good with dogs of all sizes/play styles, and he doesn’t start any rough play I haven’t had any issues. If you are trying to decide the best dog park to try out in your area, try looking at local Facebook groups and location tags on Instagram. This is how I do a lot of my own research!
What’s your experience been with dog parks? Tell us in the comments!
Stephanie is the proud “pawrent” of her fur baby, Charlie aka @Charliegoldthedoodle. Charlie and Stephanie enjoy adventures all around Atlanta, whether it’s by land or by water. She loves taking Charlie on special visits as he is a certified therapy dog. Charlie has inspired Stephanie to take up photography, which comes in handy as she loves documenting all their adventures to new places.