Dogs of all ages need exercise. Nothing can replace a good walk with a human companion, but all dogs really want a chance to run and really stretch their legs. If they can enjoy the camaraderie of other canines at the same time, that’s even better. And that’s why dog parks are such a great place for your pets.
Let’s look at some of the good reasons to use your local dog park, as well as a few precautions you should be taking, too.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a popular dog park in your community, this can be a great source of socialization for your dog. Dogs need to have as many interactions as possible with other dogs and with humans so they will feel comfortable in lots of different situations. A well-socialized dog is less likely to be anxious, nervous, or aggressive. Because a dog park is full of people and pets, socialization is almost guaranteed.
Fun for Dogs of All Types
Dogs love to walk and explore their environment, but they may not always like having to be leashed in the process. Even if you have a big fenced in yard where your dog can run safely unleashed, if he or she doesn’t have a buddy to chase around the fun may be limited. At the dog park, dogs can do their own thing off-leash. Older dogs might just want to find a shady spot under a tree. Active dogs may want to play as a pack. Some dogs may want to play fetch with their human companions.
If you’ve never seen the pure look of happiness on the face of a dog running off-leash, you need to head to the nearest dog park and see it for yourself.
Another benefit is the exercise for your dog. Dogs who don’t get enough exercise are prone to obesity, arthritis, and other serious health problems. Plus, they are more difficult to live with because all of the pent up energy is going to emerge as destructive, unwanted behavior in your home.
While walking your dog is good exercise for both of you, the dog park is going to give your dog a chance to really get a workout and drain that energy. Regular visits to the dog park will make a huge difference in even the feistiest dog.
A Few Precautions
Dog parks clearly have a lot of benefits, but you do need to take some precautions for your pet’s protection and your own.
1. Separate Small and Large Dogs – Most dog parks have separate areas so small dogs can enjoy themselves safely. Large dogs, even the friendly ones, can accidentally injure a small dog. Obey the rules on separation by size, and if your particular park does not offer that option, start campaigning in order to have the city establish it.
2. Look Around – Always keep an eye out for dog fights, which will undoubtedly happen once in a while. If you know the park well, be aware of new dogs coming into the park and their general demeanor.
3. Keep Your Dog Under Vocal Control – Even though the dog park is a place where humans can mingle, too, you don’t want to become so distracted in your conversation that you can’t pay attention to what your dog is doing. Most dog parks do have rules requiring you to have vocal control over your dog at all times.
4. Keep Your Eyes Open – The dog park will give you a chance to socialize with other dog owners, however, always keep your dog in sight. Be aware of other dogs getting aggressive, or even of what he get’s into his mouth. One of the ways to keep the parks pleasant, is for the owners to always pick up after their dogs. Don’t be so distracted that you don’t see when your dog does its business.
5. Bring Water – Although some dog parks do have the ability to provide water for the dogs through a fountain, most do not. Always bring along water for your dogs because the can easily get overheated when they’re playing in the warm sunshine. In the summer, you might find the best times to play are in the morning and in the evening before sunset.
6. Protect Yourself – Getting to know your fellow dog lovers is a great idea but you have to be careful. Just because someone owns a dog that doesn’t mean they are a wonderful person. Be careful about how much personal information you reveal about yourself. Do not leave your purse or wallet visible in the car while you are inside the park. Would be thief knows you’ll be distracted and will take advantage of the fact.
Most importantly, use this play time to bond with your dog. Don’t just get there and ignore him or her the rest of the time. Nothing will make your dog happier, than having the chance to play with you.