Dog parks are wonderful places for dogs – and dog lovers. But experts warn that owners should be aware that dog parks are not without dangers.
“Dog parks are fun places to exercise and socialize your dog,” says Dean Henricks, D.V.M., California Veterinary Medical Association president. “However, they can also harbor health risks, and they’re not for all dogs.”
Henricks says there are some important points owners should keep in mind before visiting a dog park. Read on for his advice.
Before your visit
- Keep your dog’s vaccinations current. Other dogs may not be up-to-date on vaccinations, and your dog could be exposed to diseases.
- Socialize your dog – to other dogs and people – before going to any dog park.
- Make sure your dog knows basic commands like Sit, Stay, Come and Leave it.
- Remember, you are personally and legally responsible for your dog.
At the dog park
- Observe the dogs inside the park before entering. Are the dogs playing nicely? Are their owners watching the dogs and picking up after them promptly?
- Keep an eye on your dog at all times.
- Small dogs should go to dog parks that have separate areas for smaller breeds. Untrained larger dogs may perceive small dogs as prey or engage in rough play.
- Take water for your dog to drink. Water stations at the park have been used by other dogs and wildlife and may be a source of disease.
- Follow the dog park rules. They generally include licensing requirements, leash laws and a minimum-age requirement for children.
After your visit
- Clean your dog’s paws when you leave the park to minimize the risk of parasites or diseases from the soil.
- Watch your dog for any sign of injury.
- Have your veterinarian check your dog regularly for parasites.
- Talk to your veterinarian about any precautions you should take with your dog due to his age, size, temperament or health.
For more information on dog park safety, click here.