Dog Park… or No Dog Park?

by Rebecca Reid • Posted in: Awareness/ PR, Behavior, Education

Dog parks can be a saving grace for some canine guardians living in close quarters. They may also be the wrong choice for your family.

The next time you have to decide, “dog park or no dog park?” ask yourself the following questions:

Are dogs playing fair?

Watch how the dogs interact before subjecting your own best friend to what may be a unsuitable environment. Many dog trainers and guardians have different ideas of what constitutes aggressive behavior, but in general, you should watch out for…

Bullies

Positive canine play means taking turns being the chaser and chasee. If there are dogs present that won’t take turns, you may consider opting out of the park for the time being. 

“Free Spirits”

You may notice that a handful of dogs just won’t listen to their guardians. This could spell trouble if mom or dad need to pull them away from a sticky situation… and can’t. 

Are guardians paying attention and staying involved?

Ideally, guardians stay involved in their dog’s playtime. Moms and dads that bring the dog to the park and don’t pay attention will probably struggle to notice when their dog is in trouble (or is causing trouble).

Positive involvement means occasionally calling their dogs back to their side and generally monitoring their dog’s play.

Is your dog physically and emotionally prepared for the park?

Before heading to the park, speak to your vet about what health precautions you may want to take.

You should also pay attention to your dog’s emotional state. If you have a dog that is shy or anxious or easily overwhelmed, the dog park may not be what your dog needs.

Does your dog listen to you?

If your dog doesn’t listen to you… don’t go to the dog park. This could easily spell trouble for several reasons.

Is the park itself suitable?

You may want to scout out the park before you take your dog. Check for the following:

  • Is the fence secure?
  • Is there drinking water? (You may want to bring your own anyway)
  • Are there toys laying out? (You should pick these up; many dogs are perfectly content in a social setting until you introduce a resource, at which point they may become territorial)
  • Is the park clean? (Watch out for anything that may be hazardous when eaten or stepped on)

You may scout out a few dog parks before finding one that suits your family’s needs.

Or you may discover that dog parks aren’t a good fit for your family.

There is nothing wrong with either.

By doing your research, paying attention to the environment and acknowledging your dog’s needs, you are doing what’s best for your family, whether that means “dog park” … or “no dog park.”