Dog Parks (Bark Parks) are fenced in, off-leash outdoor recreation areas designed for dogs and their owners to play and get exercise. They vary greatly in size, amenities, and rules. Some dog parks have agility obstacles and washing areas to get your dog clean before the ride home.
A dog park is a place for people who don't have a lot of space, such as apartment dwellers or people who live in big cities, to take their dog for exercise. They are also frequented by people who want to help socialize their dog with other dogs and people. If you live near a dog park, you know it can be a fun place for your dog to get healthy exercise, romp and play with other dogs, and provide socialization for both of you. Find a convenient dog park near you and let your dogs run free.
Many dog parks allow off-leash play, but some dog parks have rules stating dogs must be leashed. Dog parks are public or private (members-only) and some dog parks have an entry fee.
Check with your city Parks and Recreation Department to see if any dog parks are nearby and inquire about the rules and regulations. Dog parks are public or private (members-only) and some dog parks have an entry fee.
Most dog parks are fenced in with entry and exit gates, have water available in ponds or watering areas, are equipped with poop bag dispensers, and trash cans. Some dog parks have agility equipment, swimming areas, shade, seating, handicap parking areas, nearby parking, and more.
Dog parks can be a good place to practice obedience training because the distraction level is quite high with all the activity going on.
Requirements include a collar with a current license, ID tags, and rabies vaccination. Veterinarians recommend a dog be up-to-date on vaccinations prior to visits to a dog park. Bordetella (kennel cough) is a common illness passed from dog to dog quite easily. Parvo, distemper, and rabies shots are equally important.
If your dog loves playing with other dogs, and you find the local dog park is not what you expected and isn't a good experience for you, don't despair. Consider doggy daycare, group dog walking, or invite other dog owners who have friendly dogs over to your house for a playdate.
Dog Parks 101
- Carry a dog leash with you even if it's an off-leash park.
- Keep your dog under voice control and within sight at all times.
- When your dog is off-leash at the park, 100% of your focus should be on your dog. Do NOT spend your time talking on a cell phone.
- Leash your dog at the first sign of aggression and remove your dog from the park immediately.
- If a dangerous or out of control dog shows up, leave the park. Don't risk a dog fight.
- Socialize with other dog owners only when you have your dog on a leash.
- Closely supervise your dog and stop any mounting or other anti-social behaviors immediately.
- Clean up after your dog - if you see feces pick it up and dispose of it in the provided containers. Scoop up the poop!
- Prevent digging! If your dog digs a hole, fill it up.
- Frequently offer your dog water.
- Abide by any local dog park rules.
- Puppies under 4 months should be at left home (until properly vaccinated).
- Sensitive or shy dogs should have brief introductions (at first) or be contained in "small dog" areas only.
- Don't bring treats, toys, or small children with you.
- Don't bring your intact males or females in season!
- Consult with your veterinarian before going to a dog park.
- Make sure your dog is current on all vaccinations.
- Pay attention to the other dogs for possible health or behavior problems.
- Consider off-peak hours for your first few visits.
- Leave if you think your dog is not having fun.
- Leave if YOU are not having fun!
DOG PARK DISADVANTAGES
Visiting a dog park with your pooch, can be a fun experience. Unfortunately, there are dangers and problems to be aware of, before you go. First, visit the dog park alone before you decide if it's suitable for your dog. Check to see there are no broken fences where your dog can escape. Make sure Look at the agility equipment to make sure your dog can't be injured. You'll want to see if there are separate areas for large dogs and small dogs, so they are not together. Some of the problems include:
- Dog bites or attacks can happen from larger or more aggressive breeds.
- A nice calm day at the dog park, can turn quickly turn bad when dogs get into an altercation and begin fighting. This causes chaos and problems for dogs and owners.
- Injuries can happen from a dog fight or too much rough play. A dog that is hurt will yelp or scream, and excite nearby dogs. Worst case scenario other dogs can gang up on the injured dog.
- Your dog can get communicable diseases such as kennel cough or worms from other dogs - or pick up fleas, ticks, or other skin irritations.
- Too much stimulation can make your dog more impulsive and hard to control.
- If the dog park isn't fully fenced in, your dog could run off.
- Your dog can pick up bad habits like fear, aggression, rough play, and can ignore commands.
- Some owners disregard park rules such as cleaning up after their pet, or using the proper gates and areas.
DOG PARK ETIQUETTE
Never bring young children to a dog park. A young child can easily cause a dog attack because of their size and fast movements which are like prey. Small children are likely to trigger a dog's prey drive and even calm dogs with a good temperament might chase, nip, or bite the child. Additionally, a small child may be knocked over and injured by dogs who are running or playing. Dog parks are not playgrounds for humans!
Do not bring toys or treats to the dog park, because there is a huge potential for fights or guarding - dogs will guard their own toys, or try to take items from other dogs.
If your dog has been aggressive with other dogs in the past, been in a dog fight, or bitten other dogs or people, do not take him to a dog park until he is fully rehabilitated. A dog park can be a chaotic environment and problems can occur just like that! Some dogs may dislike other dogs barking, being chased, rough play, or just show a dislike for another dog for no reason.
Dominant dogs can become aggressive when they think they are being challenged, and nervous fearful dogs also can become aggressive if they think they are in danger. This may occur if they get surrounded by other dogs and feel trapped. Dog parks aren't for every person and every dog.
Older children who accompany you to a dog park must understand there will be no teasing, running around, chasing dogs, or petting dogs without the owner's permission.
Do not take aggressive bully-type dogs, female dogs in heat, or a sick dog to a dog park.