Now that the temperature in the Germantown area is starting to rise, many pet owners are going to be spending more and more time outdoors with their pets—and this includes trips to the dog park! And while the dog park can be a wonderful place to socialize and exercise your pet, it’s also very important to make the trip as safe as possible. The pros at Germantown Vet have compiled 15 tips for dog park safety to help ensure you have a happy, fun experience all around.
1. Make sure your pet is up to date on all vaccinations and medications
Going to the dog park is an exercise in trust—everyone there is trusting that your pup is up to date on vaccinations and medications (including flea and tick prevention), just like you need to trust that they are. Don’t even step foot or paw in a dog park without making sure all your dog’s shots are updated.
2. Make sure your dog is ready for the dog park.
No one knows your dog better than you—and you need to be realistic about whether or not your pet is right for a dog park. If you pet has aggression or fear issues, taking him or her to a dog park hoping it will “just get worked out” is not your best plan and can actually be very dangerous. There are other ways to go about socializing a pet who is already exhibiting aggressive or fearful behavior around other animals or people. Talk to the experts at Germantown Vet about behavioral training.
3. Have your phone and vet’s number ready.
Unfortunately, there is a risk involved in taking your furry friend to the dog park. Things can take a turn for the worst at a moment’s notice, and it’s vital that you can get in contact with your vet immediately. Germantown Vet offers emergency vet care—give us a call at 240-252-7467240-252-7467.
4. Introduce your dog to the park properly.
If this is your dog’s first time to the park, make sure you introduce your pet properly—especially if you’re not sure how he or she is going to react to other dogs. Let your pup sniff around the edges of the fence. This is a great way for your dog to be introduced to other dogs without directly interacting.
5. Be mindful of who is at the park.
When you arrive at the park, check out the dogs who are there and how they are playing. If you think they’re being too aggressive (this is especially important if you have a small dog), it’s probably in your pet’s best interests to come back another day.
6. Know the difference between playing and fighting.
It’s very important that you can tell the difference between playing and fighting. All dogs and breeds are different—some will be very vocal when playing, but if their tails are wagging and ears are relaxed, it’s usually okay to assume the dogs are playing. What you need to be on the lookout for is bared teeth, snarling, raised fur, and stiff bodies and tails. You can put your dog in a dangerous situation by both over-reacting and under-reacting.
7. Know how to break up a dog fight.
In the event that a dog fight breaks up, you need to know the best way to safely break up the fight. It’s important that you never grab your dog’s collar in a fight because your dog may reflexively turn his or her head and bite you—they don’t do this because they want to hurt you but because it is a knee-jerk reflex to being grabbed. You can try spraying the fighting dogs with a hose or blowing an air horn near their faces. The surprise of the water or the sound may cause them to break apart and be separated. If neither of these methods work, the safest and easiest way to separate two fighting dogs is by doing the following:
You and the other dog own walk to the backend of your respective dog and grasp firmly where the back legs meet the hips. You should both lift your dog up like a wheelbarrow and start walking backward—the dogs should release their grasp on one another. Once the dogs have released, turn 180 degrees and face your dog away from the other one. Turning your dog serves two purposes: first, it directs your dog’s vision away from the other dog, and second, it puts you in control of your pet and reduces the chance that you will get bitten. When you are turning around, your dog will either have to shuffle his or her front paws or risk falling down.
Once the dogs are pulled apart immediately separate them. Do not give them another chance to fight. Remove your dog from the dog park and visit the veterinarian to ensure no harm has come to your dog.
8. Don’t keep your dog on the leash inside the fence.
Although it may seem safer to keep your dog on a leash when he or she is new to the dog park, it can actually lead to increased aggression because your pet will feel trapped when other dogs approach.
9. Watch out for aggressive dogs—including your own.
You need to keep an eye out for aggressive dogs, and sometimes that dog can be your own. Don’t subject your dog or anyone else’s dog to aggressive behavior. If the offending aggressive dog doesn’t leave the park, take your dog home to safety—and if it’s your dog being aggressive, be mindful of everyone else and leave.
10. Don’t bring treats or toys to the dog park.
Your dog may not have any food or toy aggression at home, but you never know how he or she may react when other dogs are crowding around trying to get treats or toys, too. Additionally, other dogs at the park may be aggressive when it comes to toys and treats. The safest bet is leaving these things behind.
11. Monitor your dog at all times.
No excuses—watch your dog at all times! You cannot leave for any reason or turn your back. It’s your job to ensure your dog is having a safe experience at the park, and you can’t do that without monitoring your dog at all times.
12. Bring drinking water for your pet—and some to share!
Running around is going to tire your pup out, so do your part and bring fresh drinking water for your pet to enjoy. There will likely be community bowls available, so it’s nice to bring enough for everyone to share.
13. Be aware of the temperature.
When the temperature rises, extended periods outdoors—especially when exercising and playing—can be very dangerous for your dog.
14. Train your dog.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but having a well-trained dog at the dog park makes handling him or her safely much easier.
Learn more about dog training »
15. Be prepared.
Above all else, be prepared for anything. It’s important that you have everything on our list, but also be prepared to clean up poop (possibly off your dog after he or she rolls in it), be slobbered on and jumped on, and more. Wear closed-toe shoes and casual clothes and bring water for yourself if it’s a hot day.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun!
Now that you’re equipped with all these dog park safety tips you can go out there and have fun with your pup. Dog parks can be a great place to socialize and exercise your pet, as long as you know how to navigate the landscape safely.