Keeping Your Dog Safe at an Off-Leash Dog Park

Taking your dog to an off-leash dog park is a great way to meet his social and exercise needs. There are a few steps you should take during visits to the dog park to keep your dog safe while he is running free and frolicking with other dogs.

The First Dog Park Visit

Many dog owners feel a little apprehensive when taking their dog to an off-leash park for the first time. It is a good idea to take your first outing to the park during a non-peak time like a weekday mid-morning rather than on a Saturday. Having fewer dogs and people present will make it easier to watch your dog. Have a friend that has dog park experience come along with you on your first visit. When you arrive at the dog park, remove your dog’s leash immediately when you enter the fenced area. It is not safe to take a leashed dog into a situation where the other dogs are off leash.

Keep Moving

Once you have entered the park, it is best to keep walking around. When people congregate for longer than a few minutes, the dogs that are with them will begin to set up pack hierarchy. Even dogs that were playing together nicely may get into a tussle under these circumstances. Another benefit to moving around the dog park frequently is that your dog will look for you and may follow along with you as you are walking. This will help with recall training.

Dog Fights

Dogs rarely fight at the dog park. Occasional skirmishes may occur, but they are usually just brief vocal warnings between the dogs. The best thing to do if other dogs are fighting is to move away from the incident with your dog. Call to him cheerfully before he becomes focused on the other dogs, and run in the opposite direction of the altercation. If there seems to be an unusual amount of aggressive displays on a particular day, go home. It is better to leave and come back when things return to normal.

Safest Practices

There are things you can do to minimize the possibility of accidents and altercations at the dog park.

  • Remove training tools such as prong collars and harnesses from your dog while he is playing. Another dog’s mouth can get caught in these devices and cause serious injury.
  • Avoid carrying food of any kind into the dog park, as well as your dog’s favorite toys from home. Dog fights can be the result of guarding cherished items. It is best to leave food and toys at home.
  • Most dog parks have double gated entrances and exits. Be sure that one gate is closed when you are coming in and going out.
  • Children should be monitored closely at the dog park. Toddlers may get knocked down by dogs that are running and playing. Some dogs have never been socialized to children and may not know how to behave around them.
  • Keep sight of your dog, always know where he is.