I’m sure that if you are a new dog owner then you are interested in taking your dog to the dog park for a bit of socialisation. It can be a great place to take your dog, but remember that you are always banking on other dog owners being responsible too. And sadly, not all of them are. Here’s our list of dog park pros and cons, followed by some dog park tips for staying safe.
What is a Dog Park?
A dog park is an enclosed space in public parks that is designated for your dogs to go off lead and run around and mix with each other. Most big USA and UK cities have dog parks. If you are not sure where your local dog park is, there are apps you can use to find them. Some of the most popular dog park finder apps are:
- Bark Happy – Featuring over 20,000 dog parks, bark happy is available as an app for iOS and Android.
- Paw Parks – An iOS app that helps you to find dog parks and walking trails near you.
- Dog Park Finder Plus – Over 6000 dog friendly parks, beaches and hikes on this iOS app powered by DogGoes.
- Hundescove – Hundescove is the perfect app if you want to find a dog park in Denmark.
- Dog Park Assistant – This doesn’t find dog parks but it’s an app that helps you to choose a healthy and safe dog park for your dog, with tips on dog park etiquette and safety.
Dog Park Pros and Cons
The main pros of the dog park are:
- If you have a sociable dog he or she will be able to have fun with other dogs.
- Dog will run together and get good exercise
- It’s usually enclosed so you can let your dog off lead (provided you trust the other dogs and owners!)
- It’s sociable for the adults too!
The main cons of dog parks are:
- Dogs can sometimes result in over-excitement and dogs may end up fighting
- If your dog gets attacked it may affect his behaviour towards other dogs in future
- Some dogs find it too overwhelming or stressful
- Some dog owners aren’t responsible e.g. don’t muzzle snappy dogs, don’t poop scoop, don’t intervene in fights
If your dog is constantly barking when at the dog park, you need to decide whether it’s a bark of excitement, or a bark out of stress. Not all dogs do well at the dark park and it may not be the best place for nervous dogs or dogs that have not been properly socialised as pups.
Our dog Blake prefers to meet dogs on a one to one basis, rather than the high energy and stressful environment of a dog park.
Tips for the Dog Park
- Keep aggressive dogs away from the dog park
- Always take poop scoop bags (plural – they poop a lot!)
- Muzzle dogs that are learning how to socialise
- Discipline your dog the second it displays any aggressive, dominating or inappropriate behaviour e.g. humping
- Only let your dog off lead if he has 100% recall
- Take a bottle of water and bowl or a special doggy water bottle – they get hot when playing
- Put a harness on your dog for the dog park because it is easier to grab your dog in an emergency situation
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