Dog parks are a fantastic way to socialize your dog and give plenty of exercise, as well as providing you with the opportunity to meet some like-minded owners.

However, this doesn’t mean that you and your dog can just visit your local park with no preparation. Since you are heading out into the public domain and there will be factors that are beyond your control, there are certain things that you should consider.

To help you understand what to expect, here is what you need to know before taking your dog to the dog park.

You should make sure your dog has had basic training

This is particularly important if you are planning on letting your dog off of the leash, since you need to be able to ensure understanding of basic commands, like coming when called, sit, and stay to keep your dog safe.  It will take a lot of practice to ensure understanding in all locations, since distractions will be tempting.

Your dog should be in good health

Coughs and sneezes may spread diseases, along with sniffing and licking everything in sight. Dogs aren’t known for being fussy when it comes to what they will eat, and this means that your dog might be ingesting bacteria or sharing germs with other dogs and humans visiting the park.

In addition to being in good general health, you should ensure that your dog is up to date with all of his vaccinations and preventative treatments such as heartworm, flea and tick protection.

If you have a female dog, she may receive some unwanted male attention

Most veterinarians strongly recommend that your dog is spayed or neutered before you visit a dog park, especially if you are planning on letting them off the leash.

It only takes a minute or two of unsupervised contact for your dog to impregnate another, or if you have a female furbaby, to become impregnated. Help prevent the overpopulation of dogs and unwanted pregnancy by ensuring your pet is unable to reproduce before heading to the dog park.

Your dog might not enjoy the dog park

It is important to realize that dogs are a lot like humans in that they don’t necessarily all enjoy the same thing. While in theory your canine dog should love a trip to the dog park, you may get there and find your dog dislikes the trip or even exhibits behaviors such as fear or even aggression. There can be

several reasons for this, with some of the most common including:

  •  Your dog hasn’t been properly socialized and doesn’t know how tointeract with other animals.
  • Your dog is very anxious or frightened in new situations.
  • Your dog has too much pent-up energy to release.

In these cases, you may wish to find different ways of introducing your canine pal to other pets, such as training classes or one-one playdates.

Go for a walk before you go to the dog park

The dog park is not a substitute for a walk. Regular walks are essential for helping to burn off excess energy, and while a run in the park will also do this, you should never take an over-excited pup to the park. Too much built-up energy can cause dogs to exhibit undesirable behaviors such as running away or hassling other animals and attraction of unwanted attention of other dogs in the park.

You should know how to break up a dog fight

Hopefully your dog will enjoy the park without getting into a tiff with another dog, but unfortunately there is always a risk of a fight between animals. Before you go, you should learn how to defuse a fight effectively and without becoming injured.

The most important thing to remember is to never use your bare hands. Use anything that you have at hand to get between the dogs, such as a jacket, large branch, or backpack. Make loud noises and distract them while using hand gestures to encourage your pet to return to you, if off the leash. If you have any water with you, dump this over their heads or throw it at them.

With a little preparation, a visit to the dog park can be an enjoyable experience for your pet. If you have any further questions or would like more advice, feel free to contact Geist Pet Wellness Clinic at 317-434-1900.

Your pets deserve the best veterinary care possible