Are Dog Parks a Good Idea?

dog-parks 1Now that the weather is getting nice, everyone wants to get outside to play. Its great for both dogs and dog owners to take advantage of outdoor play, for fun and for exercise. You may be fortunate enough to have a nice fenced in yard for your dogs. If you live in a big city, or live in an apartment, you may think the only way to exercise your pooch is by taking walks. That is no longer your only option.

In recent years, dog parks have been popping up all over the country. Just as the name suggests, these are fenced -in areas where dogs can be taken off leash and allowed to run around and play, either with their owner or with other dogs. There are private and public dog parks and some may charge a fee to help pay for maintenance. All dog parks should have a posted list of rules. Important rules include, never leaving your dog unattended, always have voice control over your dog, and do not bring your dog’s favorite toy from home. He will probably not want to share. Also, never bring a female in heat or close to her heat cycle, to a dog park. I am certain I don’t even have to explain this rule.

The Benefits of Using a Dog Park

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.dogs park3

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.

Socialization Galore

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.

Healthy Exercise

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.

Private Dog Parks: Can Be The Safe Choice

With an increasing number of serious incidents being reported at dog parks, I want to introduce the safe alternative that a well-run private dog park can provide. You will find that a properly designed and managed private dog park is a dramatically different experience than what you have read about or have witnessed in public parks. A privately run dog park can properly screen, staff and enforce park regulations. We do caution you that even with the information you will gain from this article, please know that any dog park is not regulated, so we encourage everyone to do their homework before visiting any dog park to ensure it is right for you and your dog.
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The current trend is that community and homeowner associations are responding to community demand by setting aside a small plot of their land for a public dog park. Unfortunately these unmanaged and unregulated fenced areas often turn to that of neighbor confrontation, injury and horror, even with the best of intending groups and dog owners. Let’s face it, without any oversight or enforcement, incidents are going to occur. Because I recognized the dangers in dog parks to the point that I would not take my dogs to one, I was motivated to devise the complex recipe for a safe off-leash dog park. Therefore; I conducted an in-depth investigation of many existing dog parks to establish the precise formula needed to create an off-leash haven.

I visited many, talked with visiting dog owners and observed many dog parks, both private and public. From my investigative travels and with my inherent understanding of dogs, I developed the complex operating matrix for a safe, off-leash dog park. Since that design work, we have successfully opened the first of our many private dog parks that thousands of qualifying dogs and their owners have already enjoyed. Our safety performance at the Royal Paws Dog Park & Doggie Day Camp facility speaks for itself with an impeccable safety performance and industry leading staffing ratio.

Benefits to your Dog with Off-Leash Exercise

The benefits to a dog at an off-leash dog park or any open area of land are immense. Unleashed running elevates heart rate, increases metabolism, improves gastrointestinal efficiency, and extends muscles and joints, all of which contributes to general overall fitness. It is known that maintaining such a healthy lifestyle for your loved dog will increase longevity and reduce risk of all associated conditions and diseases that obesity can cause. The experience for your dog in open field run is like no leashed exercise we can otherwise provide and the benefits will last a lifetime. When letting your dog run in an open field for exercise value, please consider that there are many risks to both you and your dog. You may be violating leash laws, the dog can track a scent or get lost, run into traffic or unwelcome neighborhood area, confront aggressive dogs or dangerous wildlife or foliage; which are all of the reasons as why I do not take my dogs to any open land without fences despite their excellent obedience.

In fenced area designated as a dog park, in addition to fitness improvement, your dog can enjoy benefits from the social interaction with the other dogs IF experienced without incident. The advantage for a dog that is well exercised and socialized benefit the dog, the owner and the community ONLY IF they have somehow avoided traumatic incident. Well exercised and socialized dogs are much less likely to contribute to neighborhood nuisances like chronic barking or showing aggression to other dogs.

If public parks could operate as well-run private dog park do, these benefits would be maintained. Unfortunately, many dog parks are not continuously regulated nor do they have the resources or knowledge to accurately screen the dogs; therefore, odds are that incidents will occur. Incidents like your dog being attacked by another dog or even being bullied by another dog can cause regression in social skills, cause behavioral issues, invoke fear aggression or cause physical injury or death. Following any incident at a public park, without a safe and regulated choice of private dog park that can best create positive experiences to overcome the impact of the incident, your dog may never physically or emotionally recover from the past trauma. The likelihood of good experiences for your dog in a well-managed private dog park is the reason that many loved dog owners everywhere chose private over non-regulated public parks.

Premise of a Safe Dog Park – It’s Private

The advantages a private dog park has over any public dog park is the ability to secure more favorable, larger parcels of land, improved grounds maintenance, set dog health requirements, enforceable park rules, screening of appropriate tempered dogs and third party intervention. Beware though and do your homework about any private dog park you intend to visit. Just because they can do all of the above does not mean that they do! While it is integral that the private dog park has the ability to control all of the above to make visits to a well-managed private dog park enjoyable, the most important to me are the health and temperament screening and ability of park staff to intervene.