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Safety Tips for Taking a Pup to the Dog Park

May 31, 2017

A dog park can be a wonderful place for a pup! The open area not only offers the chance to get rid of some of that pent-up puppy energy, but it can also help to improve a pup’s social skills. Since having a good experience is important, before loading up and heading out, there are a few safety tips to keep in mind.

#1. Check with Your Veterinarian

Introducing a new puppy to the park environment is important, but it should wait until the veterinarian says it is okay to do so. A trip to the vet’s office will help to identify the time when a pup can safely join other animals to play. The veterinarian will check to make sure the puppy has a clean bill of health and is current on its vaccinations and parasite-preventives. Depending upon where you live, they may also recommend additional vaccines to cover any other less common diseases that could be passed through contact with other puppies, such as:

  • ●Bordetella (kennel cough)
  • ●Coronavirus
  • ●Giardia
  • ●Leptospirosis
  • ●Lyme disease.

#2. Check out the Dog Park First

Safety is important when bringing any size or age animal to a dog park, especially if the park is to be enjoyed by animals off-leash. Look around for the following:

  • Posted rules of conduct
  • Secure fencing
  • Double-gated entry
  • Separate play areas for both the large and the small dogs
  • Trash cans and poop-bag dispensers
  • Clean grounds that are free of tall grass, weeds, trash, and dog waste
  • Sheltered areas
  • Water fountains that are working, clean, and dog-friendly
  • Number of dogs within the park area and behavioral characteristics of the animals
  • Dog owner attentiveness to activities and animal behaviors from within the park area.

#3. Activity Level

Before taking a pup to the park, try to determine the activity level. A young puppy, especially if it is small, could become overwhelmed in a crowded and dog-filled park. Typically, dog parks are at their busiest in the early morning and after-work hours. Until the pup is used to the level of activity and to the increased number of animals, try to find a time to go to the park when it is less crowded. 

#4. Take Your Time at the Dog Park

Gently acclimating a pup to a dog park may take a while, but both you and your pup will be glad you did! If the animal is at all hesitant, walk it around the park a few times before attempting to enter the fenced-in dog area. After it becomes comfortable with all of the sights and smells, it may no longer feel wary. It may take several visits before the pup is secure and acting as if it wants to join in play with the other animals its age and size.

#5. Learn to Keep an Eye on Everything

While keeping a watchful eye on your pup, it is also important to remain aware of all that is going on around him. For example, in their exuberance, a larger pup that doesn’t realize its size may play too rough or a dog could get up too close to and personal with your pup. Situations like these may cause your pet to become intimidated or feel afraid.

#6. Learn to Recognize Aggression

It’s important to be able to determine when a dog is being threatening or aggressive to another dog. Signs that a dog wants to play include:

  • Bouncing around
  • Wagging their tail
  • Relaxed posture
  • Friendly, relaxed facial expressions.

However, when an animal is acting threatening or aggressive, the signs will involve:

  • Stiff stance
  • Raised hackles
  • Intent focus, staring
  • Closed mouth
  • Stiff tail
  • Growling.

Whenever an animal is behaving in a threatening or aggressive way, be it yours or someone else’s, practice safety for your animal and remove it from the park. 

Call To Action & Close:

By following these dog park safety tips, your pup will be able to play freely, socialize with other animals, and enjoy itself!

Your Covetrus representative can provide other tips and suggestions for keeping a puppy healthy and happy! Contact us at: 855.724.3461.

Train Your Puppy Right. The American Kennel Club. 2012. Bow Tie Press. Irvine, California.
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