5 Tips for Public Dog Parks & Runs

Spending the day at the local public park or run can be fun for both owner and pet. These wide open spaces allow dogs to stretch their legs, meet new friends and socialize with their owners. However, there are a number of guidelines that should be followed by all dog owners to keep public dog parks and runs safe for all.

Dog park

Dog park (Photo credits: www.smartsign.com)

1. Know the Laws of the Dog Park or Run

Public dog parks and runs have specific rules to keep dogs and humans alike safe. For many parks, dogs are required to wear county or city licences along with their identification tags, and need proof of recent rabies vaccinations. Owners without the proper tags or licences can be heavily fined. Many parks also do not allow certain types of choke or prong collars, do not allow smoking or must be supervised by individuals 18 years or older.

2. Keep the Dog’s Medical Treatments Up-To-Date

Up-to-date rabies vaccinations are a must when it comes to public dog parks. Rabies can be communicated to humans, and presents a danger to all involved. While they may not be required to visit a dog park, the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that dogs also be vaccinated for distemper, parovirus and hepatitis. Many public dog parks also require dogs to be spayed or neutered.

3. Know the Dog’s Temperament

Dogs that act aggressively towards others should never be taken to dog parks. Only dogs that are trained and listen to voice commands or hand signals, and should always respond to the owner before they are brought to a dog park. If the dog begins to misbehave, fight, is bullied or becomes uncomfortable, the owner should be prepared to leave with the dog. An owner should never bring more dogs than can be easily handled should a problem arise.

If a fight does break out, the dog owners should never get in the middle. Sudden noise may distract the dogs momentarily, or throwing water on them may discourage the dogs. Trained dog handlers usually enlist the help of a friend to physically pull the dogs apart by their hind legs. Even with experience, this can still be incredibly dangerous.

4. Be Respectful of the Park or Run

The dog owner should always be sure to clean up after their dog. This keeps the park clean for everyone to use. Further, treats or special toys should never be brought into the dog park. These can start fights between dogs, and someone may be injured.

Dog beach at Coronado, California.

Dog beach at Coronado, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5. Stay Vigilant

When a dog is brought to the dog park, the owner should remain vigilant or aware of his or her dog at all times. Cell phones should remain in a purse or pocket, and hands and eyes should be free from distractions at all times.

When dogs play, there may be some growling, nipping and chasing involved. While usually this type of play is just that, over-excited dogs can quickly turn aggressive. A good dog owner should be able to spot the difference in his or her dog’s body language or signals, and should remove the dog from the situation before a fight breaks out.

It is not recommended for babies and toddlers to be brought to dog parks. If they are brought, however, they need to be watched at all times. Unfamiliar dogs may be friendly, but can easily become over-excited and accidentally injure young individuals.

By following these simple guidelines, taking their dogs to a public dog park or run can be a rich and rewarding experience.

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