A Day at the Park: Dog Park Safety Tips
Dogs need to be able to exercise and play if they’re going to stay happy and healthy. Taking your dog to the local dog park might seem like an ideal way to help your dog play, have fun, and make friends with other dogs. But dogs are dogs and with all the activity at a dog park, there’s a chance that one (or more) of them will get out of hand and someone will get bitten.
Take it from a dog bite lawyer: dog owners have a lot of power to protect others from dog bites. If you’re thinking of bringing your dog to a dog park, here are a few things you can do to protect yourself, your pet, and others.
Check it Out Alone
If you’re thinking of going to a dog park you’ve never been to before, it’s a really good idea to go check it out by yourself first. Try to go around the time that you would go if you were bringing your dog so you can get an idea of how crowded it is. If your dog is new to dog parks or they don’t do well in very crowded situations, try to go during an off time. Do the dogs at the park seem to be friendly? Be sure to note how attentive the owners are to their dogs. If it seems like a lot of the owners are busy chatting amongst themselves, checking their phones, or otherwise not paying much attention to their dogs, you may want to find another dog park to visit since these kinds of owners won’t be as quick to respond if their dog is behaving in a way that could cause problems.
Leave the Kids at Home
Your dog may be great with your child at home, but it’s important to remember that young children represent a very large number of dog bite victims. Being around so many dogs can be extremely exciting for a child and they might make loud noises or sudden movements that startle or rile dogs. They might also be eager to pet or play with a strange dog. If you must bring your child with you to a dog park, make sure they are supervised very closely.
Before you bring your dog to the dog park, make sure it understands and consistently responds to simple commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “leave it” and will come to you when called. These basic commands will go a long way in keeping your dog under control and out of trouble.
When so many dogs get together, there’s always the possibility for a fight to start. Make sure you’re prepared to break one up safely if you have to. A dog deterrent spray or air horn can do the job. Or at least make sure you have a jacket or bag that you could throw into a fight to distract the dogs long enough for you to get your dog out of there.
Know When Not to Bring Your Dog
The simple fact of the matter is that not all dogs are well-suited to going to the dog park. If your dog is unneutered and in heat, it’s definitely not a good idea to bring it to the park. Pregnant dogs and very young puppies should also be kept out. And while dog parks do offer the opportunity for dogs to socialize, it’s best that they not go into a dog park completely unsocialized. Make sure they have some experience being around other dogs and people and that they aren’t hostile or aggressive toward others. Also, remember that even a normally well-behaved dog can become aggressive in certain situations, so it’s important for you to understand which situations are stressful or overly exciting for your pet.
Taking steps to prevent dog bites at the dog park is a win-win situation: your dog can get the exercise and play it needs and you can protect others from injury at the same time. Make your next trip to the park a safe one!