While your dog may be wonderful at home with you and your family and even other home pets, this is certainly no guarantee that your pet will be a good fit for the dog park. Many dogs do not mean to be aggressive, but become fearful of other dogs and can display aggression as a result. The first step is to ensure that your pet is friendly with other dogs and people, and does not display fear or aggression toward other dogs in unfamiliar environments.
Before visiting the dog park with your dog, give him a chance to spend time around other dogs in different situations so that you have a good idea of how he will react. If your dog is not friendly with others, get help to change his behavior before you consider visiting the dog park. Also, be sure that your pet will come to you when called for, no matter how distracted, so that you are always in control of the situation. Here are a few more tips:
- Know the risks – Dog parks serve as reservoirs for many viruses and parasites since dog owners do not always clean up after their dogs promptly. Fecal matter, left on the ground, can transmit many diseases, including roundworms, hookworms, Giardia, and Parvovirus, a life threatening virus that causes vomiting, diarrhea and massive damage to gastrointestinal tract. Your dog may also become exposed to air-borne viruses such as kennel cough, canine influenza, and even distemper virus. Because of these disease concerns, puppies under 6-months old, as well as older or ill dogs should never be taken to the dog park.
- Take preventative measures – before visiting the dog park with your dog, make sure to visit your veterinarian who can ensure that your dog is up to date on all core vaccinations and can also provide an effective flea and tick preventative. Microchipping and spaying/neutering your pet may also be discussed at that time. Regular visits for physical examinations and fecal screenings will help catch and treat infections promptly before they cause major harm.
- Where to go? – So your dog is healthy and strong and you have decided it’s time to visit the dog park. The best way to choose a dog park for you and your friend is by visiting several local parks without your pet first to scope out the environment, the park rules, and the visitors. Check that other visitors are practicing safety and cleanliness with their dogs. Find out when the slowest days/times are for your first visit with your dog.
- Take it slow – During your first few visits, if you are not completely comfortable with how your dog might react, don’t be afraid to muzzle your dog. Introduce your dog to other dogs gradually, staying around the entry area with your dog and allowing him to sniff other dogs before entering the park. Don’t let your dog threaten other dogs and don’t let other dogs threaten your dog – if this occurs, leave the area immediately. Most importantly, supervise your dog at all times.
Have a safe and enjoyable time!
Your friends at All Creatures Veterinary Care Center