Summer is here, and with the warm weather and melting ice cream also comes peak dog park season. As dog owners, we all want to see our precious pups exercise and enjoy the summer weather with their canine pals. However, while fun-filled trips to the park are a summer staple for many families, there are some potential hazards to be mindful of. Follow these tips to ensure your summer days at the dog park are both fun and safe:
1. Make a Preliminary Visit
Before you officially let your dog loose, take some time on your own to scope out the park(s) near your home. Use this time to take in your surroundings and discern the temperament of the owners and dogs who frequent the park. This will help you determine whether or not that specific park will be a good fit for your four-legged friend. A park that is frequented by inattentive owners or particularly aggressive dog behavior is not typically a great place to let your dog off- leash for playtime.
2. Observe the Fencing
Depending on location and funding, parks are not always up to date on maintenance. This can range anywhere from minor inconveniences such as un-mowed grass to more serious hazards such as inadequate fencing. If it looks as though the fencing is not up to date, and your pup would be able to escape either under or over the fence, choose a different park.
3. Keep an Eye Out for Separate Play Areas
Whether your dog is big or small, it may be smart to only visit parks that have designated, fenced in areas for large and small dogs. Playtime shared between dogs who have a considerable difference in size can grow dangerous fairly quickly. While many dogs mean no harm, the sheer difference in size is dangerous for smaller pups. Take your dog where you feel they would feel most comfortable.
4. Pay Attention to Timing
Much like children, playful dogs eventually reach a point where they have had enough. Especially during the summer, you do not want your dog to overheat. Once a dog reaches a point where they are too tired or hot, aggressive behaviors and serious health risks can begin to arise. Depending on temperature and temperament, anywhere between 30-60 minutes should be plenty of time for your pup to get all of their playtime in while still staying hydrated, cool, and alert. If you notice your dog acting particularly lethargic or warm, it is probably time to head home.
5. Weigh the Pros and Cons of Bringing Toys
While it may prove tempting to bring along a few of your pup's prized possessions to the park, first consider whether or not your dog is typically territorial over their toys. Often times, throwing a ball for your dog at the park will turn into a multiple-pet ordeal, as more than just your own pup will likely chase after it. In the event that you do decide to pack a toy, try to bring more than one so you can distract one or more dogs in the event that aggression or territorial behaviors begin to arise. Another caution to bringing toys to the park is the potential risk that you may lose the toy.
Most importantly, have fun! These tips, while not an exhaustive list, will surely help you and your dog make the most of your trips to the neighborhood park this summer. If you are having trouble locating a park near your home or just want to socialize your furry friend within a more controlled environment, consider setting up some play dates with neighbors or check out any local doggy daycare facilities. Send us your furry friends at the park on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/C21Affiliated/