Is there any place on this planet that your dog loves more than the park? I’ll give you a minute to think about it, but the answer is probably no. For dogs, the park is a glorious place full of grass and trees, meadows to run and roll around in, other dogs and people to say hi to, and so many wonderful smells. Truthfully, the park is any dog’s heaven on Earth.
I love my parks too! They’re beautiful places to spend some time under the sun, get out and socialize with friends and family, and have some fun while enjoying all the beauty our natural world has to offer.
Having a reactive dog, I don’t get out to the park with her too often (instead park trips are reserved for off season or after hours), but I do get out with Ivy and Cooper quite often. You can tell they love the change of scenery too.
Way back when we first brought our dog’s home, we used to take them to our local dog park a lot. There was a great big fenced in lawn for big dogs to run around in and a small area for little dogs. There were agility courses and tennis balls galore and a great big pavilion for the people. There was even a water fountain for dogs. It was a lovely area and while I no longer take my dogs there, I can see why people loved it so much.
Personally, I just grew uncomfortable and began to worry for my dog’s safety. I saw enough fights break out between pets and then later between pet parents. There was also plenty of people who abused the space and refused to keep it clean.
While it saddened me to no longer have the option to take them out to the park, I knew I was doing what was best for them. As a dog mom, my number one priority is their health and safety after all.
That being said, there are ways to make sure that your dog’s stay safe and sound when they’re out at the park. I’ve shared some of them with you below.
Teach them leave it
Everyone should teach their dog leave it. I mean it, everyone. Leave it is a great command that you can fall back on if you notice your dog is sniffing around something that makes you feel unsafe.
Unfortunately, my neighbors leave plenty of cooked chicken bones lying around their yard after garbage day. Leave it has prevented Bean, Ivy, and Cooper from ingesting them and potentially getting sick plenty of times in the past.
Because you never know what might be lying around and if what’s lying around is harmful to your dog, teach them this command and give yourself greater peace of mind.
Teach them come when called
Come is another trick you’ll want to have under your belt before you take your dog to the park, especially if you plan on letting them run free in fenced in areas. While it’s never fool proof, your dog isn’t a robot after all, if you feel like your dog has a solid grasp on the command you’ll feel safer letting them run free. In the case that they run off, jump the fence, or get into a fight with another dog, use come.
Bring an air horn or spray bottle as well as a first aid kit
Fights happen. It’s the reality of the dog park. For that reason, keep an air horn or spray bottle on hand each time you take your dog to the park. If you dog gets into a fight or another dog starts a fight spray them with the water or squeeze the air horn. It just might break up the fight.
Additionally, bring a first aid kit so that you can tend to any wounds that might result from a fight. If worst comes to worst, be sure you know where the nearest emergency veterinary facility is located. Keep the number in your phone for quick reference.
Keep them on a leash
I know how much you want to let your dog run around and be free. That was one of the reasons that I loved the dog park so much! However, I promise you that your dog will be much safer if you just keep them on leash the entire time they’re at the park.
Keeping them on leash will ensure that they stay out of trouble. You reduce the risk of getting into any fights with other dogs, having them bite anyone (it happens, even to the best behaved dogs), having them run off, or getting into spats with any of the local wildlife. So keep them on a short leash (5 or 6 feet) and make sure their collar or harness is fitted properly.
Bring waste bags
If your park doesn’t provide waste bags for you to use be sure to bring your own and pick up after your dog. Brownie points if you’re the friendly neighbor who picks up the poop that others didn’t. Cleaning up after your dog keeps the park clean and keeps it a healthy space for two legged and four legged friends.
Pay attention to your dog
If you take your dog to the park, now isn’t the time to zone out on your phone while you’re texting or scrolling through Instagram. Keep your eye on them and the other dogs or humans that are moving around the park space. Be sure your dog is keeping their nose out of trouble.
Limit your time at the park
It can be tempting to laze the day away under the summer sun with your dog, but you might find that they quickly grow restless. All the sights, smells, sounds, and people can easily overwhelm them. Your dog will also get hungry, bored, or tired! For this reason, limit your time to a half hour or an hour.
Don’t use dog parks.
Of course you can take your dog to the park, but I really do recommend avoiding the dog park if possible. It’s just not worth the risk to your dog’s safety.