As the weather gets better, people are starting to venture out more with their pets. The dogs have been cooped up all winter and are energetic and ready to run and play. A fenced in dog park seems like it would be a safe environment for your dog, right? Yes, for the most part, but there are many things to be aware of before you just unleash Fido and let him run.
Condition of Park
Most of the time, dog park areas are well cared for, but don’t always assume the area is in good condition and safe. Look it over carefully before you set your dog free. Trash can blow into the fenced area, but you want to make sure it is just trash.
Some people have been known to toss things in to a dog park that contains harmful food. Either dispose of the trash yourself, or ask an attendant to do it. Do not allow your dog to investigate anything on the ground. Look around to make sure there is nothing harmful for the dog to get into.
Survey the fencing. If you have a big dog that likes to jump, make sure the fencing is tall enough to contain him in case he gets overly excited and decides to leap over it. If you have a very small dog, make sure there are no gaps large enough for her to squeeze through.
Observe Dogs and People
Dog parks are supposed to be a safe place for your furry friend to be off leash and have fun. That doesn’t mean that there are not stranger dangers for you to be aware of. Some people stalk dog parks as a means to target a certain breed of dog to steal. Pure breed dogs are worth a lot of money for resale value and some people don’t care if they are stolen or not.
All dogs in an off leash park are supposed to be friendly and socialized to get along with other dogs. That doesn’t mean that all dog owners obey that rule. Pay attention to dogs that appear to be overly aggressive or that are trying to bully or herd your dog. Even the nicest dog will only take so much and instinct may kick in if the dog feels threatened.
Watch Your Dog
Watch your dog as closely as you would a small child on a playground. Don’t let yourself get distracted by texting a friend or talking with a fellow dog owner. You need to be aware at all times of just what your dog is doing and exactly where he is. It only takes a second for your dog to get injured, or for someone to grab her.
Dog parks can be a fun, safe place for your dog to run and enjoy the weather, but it also has its safety concerns. Just as your dog depends on you to take care of him at home, you are also responsible for his safety and welfare at the dog park.