If you're like Dr. Hugh, you love taking your dog to the dog park! You can let your dog roam unleashed, get exercise, take that extended bathroom break, and let you and your dog socialize with friends all at the same time. Whereas dog parks have a lot of benefits, being in the pet emergency medicine field, and now even in a day practice, Dr. Hugh sees many patients with injuries from dog parks. We've put together 5 dog park safety tips so you can enjoy the dog park and all the fun, while also keeping your dog, and other dogs, safe at the park.
1. Before you go, be sure to have your dog's shots and flea and tick prevention up to date. This will keep them safe from other dogs who might not be vaccinated or keep them safe from fleas from other dogs or ticks that might be present. Also, be sure heart worm prevention is up to date. The heart worm also has prevention from internal parasites. Whereas you can try to keep your pet from drinking pond water that may be present and host parasites, they may get that occasional drink and you want them protected from parasites that could be in the water. Having these prevention factors will help keep your dog safe around other dogs and the elements.
2. Try to visit dog parks at off peak hours. Going first thing in the morning or later in the evening will allow for a less crowded park and less chances for dog quarrels. The least crowded the park, the better.
3. If the park has a big dog and little dog section, take advantage of those areas for your size dog. No need to have a tiny dog in the big dog areas when the sheer speed of big breeds racing could injure smaller dogs. Keeping them separate is safer.
4. Always watch your dog and be on alert for your pet's activities at the park. Being near them can help you get to them more rapidly if there is a fight. Being aware of their behavior can help you avoid nipping or growling that could lead to an out of control fight with other dogs. Additionally, being near them can help you watch other dogs and be aware of potential personality conflicts with aggressive or overly playful dogs.
5. Bring your own water for water breaks. If the park has a hose for bathing, bring your shampoo and administer a bath. During the bath, or before your leave, check for ticks to remove (see how to remove ticks, here). When leaving, be sure the second gate is closed before you open the first gate so no other dogs escape onto the street.
Dog parks can be a great way to have fun with your dog and for your dog to enjoy open, leash free play with other dogs. Visit our Dog Parks in Jacksonville blog to find a local park in Jacksonville! Be sure to call Dr. Hugh at Durbin Creek Animal Hospital to get your vaccinations up to date, get your flea and tick prevention as well as heart worm prevention and you'll be ready for your next dog park adventure!