Chris Shaughness

author, speaker, animal lover

Nutrition and Wellness,  All Articles

Dog Park Pros and Cons

It�s great to have an open space for dogs to run and socialize with other dogs in a safe, enclosed environment. But just how safe are dog parks? What do you need to know before you take your dog to one?

First, be prepared. During popular hours, there may be many dogs there. Acknowledge the possibility that not all dogs who are at the park will be friendly. When lots of dogs get together, they can turn into a pack and behaviors change. Dogs start to vie for status and the possibility of fights increases. Also if dogs are playing with toys such as balls or Frisbees, fights may break out over possession of the toys. If your dog happens to get into a fight with another dog, never try to grab your dog to pull them apart. Your dog may unintentionally bite you in the frenzy. It�s called redirected aggression. Instead, bring a large towel or a blanket with you to the park. If a fight ensues, simply cover your dog with the blanket. This serves to diffuse the aggression and helps to protect you from getting bitten.

Next, be aware of what�s going on around you. Watch your dog and the other dogs carefully to detect signs of problems. Is one dog in particular picking on the other dogs? Does your dog seem happy, or maybe is a little stressed? Let�s face it, some dogs love the company of other dogs; others simply are not accustomed to being around strange dogs. If your dog is not having fun, don�t force your dog to stay or to come back to the park. Find another outlet for exercising your dog.

Also know that many people are not as diligent with their dogs as you are. It�s easy to get into a chatty conversation while the dogs play and not pay attention. That�s why it�s even more important that you stay aware of what other dogs are doing.

Finally, is your dog friendly to other dogs and people? If not, then do others a favor and stay away from the dog park. Or visit during off-hours when you know that people and their dogs will not be there. Sadly, some dog parks have a reputation for dogs and people getting bitten. Dog parks are self-policing, meaning that it is the responsibility of each individual dog owner to keep the park a friendly place. All-in-all, dog parks are a great idea. Just be alert and stay safe.