Safe and Sound: 4 Must-Know Tips for Ensuring Dog Park Safety

When going to an off-leash play area with your dog, remember our safety advice because the dog park can be dangerous to those who are unprepared.

#1: Protect your dog from infectious diseases

Your dog must be up to date on their rabies, distemper, parvovirus, and bordetella vaccinations in order to enter a reputable dog park. Leptospirosis, canine influenza, and parainfluenza vaccinations may also be necessary or advised, so make sure your dog is up to date before taking them to the park.

#2: Go during off-peak hours

After work, when dogs are bursting with energy and anxious to let off steam, dog parks are often the busiest. Overexcited dogs are less likely to behave politely, which can lead to bullying and fights. Choose an off-peak time to let your dog exercise so they won’t have to worry about a group of dogs chasing after them as they play fetch.

#3: Double-up on identification

Accidents do happen, even if it’s improbable that your dog will escape through the double gate at the park’s entrance. Provide your pet with numerous means of identification, such as collar ID tags, a collar embroidered with your phone number, and a microchip, to ensure a joyous reunion.

#4: Keep an eye out for caution signs

Keep a close eye out for inappropriate actions or indications that your dog is uneasy, because dog parks are not the place to teach socialization skills. Your dog may exhibit any of the following signs of stress, worry, or fear:

  • Running away
  • Tucked tail
  • Freezing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Panting disproportionate to activity
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Cowering or exposing their abdomen
  • Clingy behavior
  • Lip licking
  • Whale eye
  • Raised hair
  • Reactivity or aggression (e.g., barking, growling, nipping)

If your dog shows any signs of anxiety, exit the dog park immediately before things get worse.

Not all dogs should be allowed at off-leash dog parks. Many dogs would prefer to interact with people or other dogs one-on-one or explore on their own, rather than with a big pack of boisterous dogs. Regardless of the socializing style your dog chooses, make sure they receive regular preventive treatment to keep them free from parasites and infectious diseases. Call our staff to make an appointment for your dog’s yearly wellness checkup so that they can stay current.