Most pet parents know that socialization and exercise are both extremely important for our dogs. That’s why the dog park can be a very popular place for dog owners to frequent with their fur-children. But sometimes we wonder, “is taking my dog to a dog park safe?” Well, the answer can be both yes and no. There are a few different factors that will determine whether or not a dog park is the right choice for your and your dog.
First, there are three questions you need to answer before venturing to the park.
How can you tell if it is a good park?
A good park will have a both an area for big dogs and an area for small dogs. They will have posted rules for behavior guidelines and required vaccines. Also, a really good park will also have an entry gate as well as an exit gate.
The fences should be in good shape and free from weeds or brush. You never know what critters or poisonous plants could be lurking in an overgrown park near the woods. If there is agility equipment in the park make sure it is sturdy and not rusted.
Does you dog thrive or shun social situations?
If your dog is combative or suffers from anxiety it may be best to stick to walks in your neighborhood. Dog parks can be great, but they can also be very busy. So, if your dog is known to get a little aggressive or panics in social situations you may want to skip the park. While a good park could be safe for one dog, it doesn’t mean it’s safe for one that isn’t ready for that level of interaction.
How old is your dog and do they have all their shots?
Your dog needs to be at least 16 weeks old and have all of their current vaccinations before heading to the dog park. Even if they are super social and chomping at the bit to get out of the house, it can be dangerous for young dogs. They are very vulnerable to picking up diseases from other dogs or bacteria from the grass.
Risks associated with dog parks
In general dog parks are pretty safe for most dogs, but there are always some risk involved. Even healthy, social dogs can sometimes have a bad day at the park. Here are some of the most common risks of being at the dog park:
- Infectious Disease – Kennel cough, canine influenza and parasites are the most common.
- Bullying or Dog Fights – Both naturally aggressive and fearful dogs can start fights. Some pet parents don’t pay attention and just let their dogs go. This can sadly end up in dogs bullying or fighting one another.
- Fleas & Ticks – As you might suspect, dog parks are an easy place for your dog to pick up these pesky pests.
Dog parks can truly be a great outlet for some dogs. Or they can also be a nightmare for others. It’s up to you as a pet parent to decided if the park is up to your standards and is a good fit for your dog.