The nice weather is here and it’s a great time to take your dog to the dog park! Dogs (like people) need mental and physical exercise, and the dog park is a great place to get this. Dogs crave playful interaction with their peers. Going to the dog park will allow them to see, hear and smell new things as they exercise with other dogs. Active dogs (like active people) are healthier. Mitchell Veterinary Services wants to make sure you and your pup have a good time and stay safe at the dog park. So let’s take a trip to the park!
Here are a few simple tips for you and your dog to maximize the fun and to stay safe:
- Before going to the park, make sure your dog’s vaccines are up to date. The dog park is an easy place for your dog to contract disease from another dog. No one can be sure if other dogs are vaccinated or sick when coming to the park, so it is best to make sure your dog is protected. Mitchell Veterinary Services recommends vaccination with the kennel cough vaccine in addition to the core vaccines if you plan to visit the dog park on a regular basis.
- Avoid rush hour. Many dogs may fare better when the park isn’t crowded. Take your time to acquaint yourselves with the surroundings during a less busy time. It’s easier for both of you to focus without the distraction of lots of dogs and owners.
- Obey the rules. Your dog may be smart, but he or she can’t read. It’s your responsibility to read and obey all posted rules. Especially obey the “clean up after your dog” rule. This helps decrease the risk of parasite transmission.
- Watch your children or leave them at home. It’s great to have your children play with your dog, but sometimes it can be a safety concern with the interference of other dogs, especially if your dog is very protective. And even though your child and dog may get along wonderfully, not all dogs are well-socialized with kids. Just because a dog loves children it doesn’t mean that he won’t barrel right over a toddler while in the throes of a game of chase.
- Limit toys and treats but not water. Don’t pack the entire toy box or pantry for a park excursion. It’s OK to give your dog a treat, but brandishing lots of toys and treats may create conflict with other park patrons. Bring bottled water and a collapsible water bowl if your dog park does not have a dog-friendly water fountain.
- Wait before taking your puppy to the park. Pups under 4 months of age aren’t fully immunized and exposure to other dogs puts them at risk of infection. Small pups are more vulnerable to injury, even by well-intentioned larger dogs. And young pups aren’t adequately socialized and may not do well when bombarded by multiple new faces, human or canine. Socialize your pup gradually, vaccinate and de-worm him regularly, and let him grow a bit before venturing out to the park.
- Control your dog. Bring a leash along to restrain your dog as needed. Make sure your dog knows basic verbal commands. He may get so excited to be around his friends that he temporarily forgets his manners.
- Be aware of your dog’s physical condition. Don’t bring your dog to the park if he is sick. This isn’t good for your dog or his playmates. No one wants to share sniffles, coughs or diarrhea. Also, it’s best to leave female dogs at home when they are in heat.
- Supervise your dog (and everyone else’s). Spending time with your dog in the company of others is a joy. Avoid reading a magazine or playing games on your smart phone. You may get so distracted that you miss something really fun or really dangerous.
- Protect your dog from getting parasites. With many dogs frequenting the park, it becomes a great place to pick up parasites like fleas or worms that other dogs may be carrying. Placing your dog on a regular parasite protection program helps minimize the risk of contracting these parasites. Some parasites may even be harmful to humans. Contact Mitchell Veterinary Services to put your dog on a parasite protection program to protect your dog and your family.
Going to the dog park can be an exciting outing for your dog and time for the two of you to bond. By following some simple, common sense rules you can ensure you, your dog and everyone else at the dog park has great fun in a safe and courteous way.