The Utopian Dog Park Visit

Posted by Holly Veith on

It’s a beautiful seventy degree day with bright sunshine and an occasional white, puffy cloud.  Your dog is frolicking in the manicured green grass with two other perfectly sweet dogs.  After running around and chasing a ball your dog takes a nice long drink from an oh-so-cute doggie water fountain.  Your dog runs and plays until it is played-out and ready to head home for the day.  Your dog hops right up into his seat and zonks out on the short ride home.  This is how I thought my first visit to the dog park would go.  In reality it was very different from my utopian dream.  I was totally unprepared.  We left the park that first day a dirty mess and my dog ended up with horrible diarrhea for the next few days.  Going to the dog park is great socialization for dogs and gives them a great open space for exercise and play.  It is also nice for the owner to be able to socialize with other animal lovers.  There are a few things however, that you will want to keep in mind to ensure that you are better prepared than I was for a great day at the dog park.

Before you take your first trip to the dog park you want to make sure that your dog is fully Vaccinated.  You have no idea if other dogs at the park are vaccinated despite that park rules, so this is a way to help keep your dog safe.  You also want to make sure your dog is on heartworm medication and some kind of flea prevention.  You are playing outside in a space with many other dogs and you don’t want to bring home any hitchhikers! 

The second thing you need to think about is the other dogs at the park.  Most dogs will be well socialized, but you will have those dogs that are aggressive so you need to be vigilant.  You should also do some research before you head to your local dog park.  Do they have areas for different size dogs?  You want to choose a park that does.  Dogs will often gang up on smaller dogs. Sometimes it’s all fun for the smaller pooch, but sometimes it’s not! You should also check to see if your local park requires a pass.  Parks that require a pass will also require yearly proof of vaccination which is a great way to ensure that the dogs playing with your dog have been vaccinated.

Take your own water!  This was one of the biggest mistakes I made.  I thought the community drinking fountain was so cute.  I learned over the next few days it was not as cute as I thought.  My pup was lapping up dirt and sharing water with other dogs. This led to puppy diarrhea over the next few days.  My dog has long hair so needless to say...not fun.  I now take my own water bottle and collapsible bowl and this does not seem to be an issue anymore.

Take a towel to clean up!  My dog park had a fun dancing water pad for dogs. As you can see from the picture below, he REALLY loves this water feature!  My park has a hose to rinse off the mess which is convenient, but on my first excursion to the park I did not bring a towel.  I ended up with a wet and muddy car.  Of course I now take a towel (or two) with me so I can hose off the mud and dry my puppy before we get in the car.  A towel to dry and a towel to put on the seat protects my car’s interior and saves me hours of cleanup!

Take training treats and have a recall command.  When you first get to the park, walk your dog in on a leash.  Have your dog sit and give him a treat.  Now he knows you are there and have treats.  It will help when you give the recall command to ensure he comes running.  Having your dog trained to come with a recall command is a must before heading to the park!  If you see a dangerous situation developing you can recall your dog on command.  The Youtube video below shows how you can train your dog to come in a few short days with a recall word or phrase.

Lastly, Watch your dog! I see too many owners let their dogs go at the dog park and then go sit on a bench looking at their phone.  I’ve even seen owners drop their dogs inside the grounds then leave the park to go for a walk!  Please never do that!  Leaving your dog unattended can stress your dog and lead to a dangerous situation.  Keep your attention on your dog by throwing a ball, walking around, and generally just keeping an eye out.  If you do this, you will be prepared to give the recall command if you see a dangerous situation developing.  Remember these are dogs and they can get in little scrap-ups. You want to be ready to save your dog or discipline it if need be.  Dogs are like people, they don’t always get along. Keeping an eye on your dog is part of being a good citizen at the dog park and it helps everyone to enjoy themselves, human and canine alike.

Your first trip to the dog park does not have to end up with a dirty car, dirty dog, and three days of doggy diarrhea.  If you keep the above pointers in mind it will lead to a fun and successful day at the dog park!  


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