When you imagined getting a dog you probably imagined going to the dog park. It’s the ultimate dog playground/petting zoo. Your dog gets to run around, be loud and play with other dogs — his dream come true. You get to see your dog happy and playing and you get a chance to play with dogs who aren’t even yours.
One of the other added benefits to the dog park experience is that you get to hang with other “dog people”, who are probably as obsessed with their dogs as you are with yours. You can get invaluable advice regarding: doggy rearing, healthy diets, groomers, training, you name it. In that respect it’s pretty much like Yelp behind a gate!
But the dog park is also fraught with hazards if you and your dog are unprepared.
- Many but not all the dogs will be up on their vaccinations.
- A dog’s social skills, specifically with his peers, become important in the dog park.
- Fleas are likely to consider the dog park their playground, too.
- You need to bring basic supplies to insure you and your dog have a good time.
Recently, there’s debate over whether pet vaccinations are overdone, but there is no question a puppy needs a full set of shots. A puppy will not have received a full set of shots till he is 4 months of age. Taking a puppy to a dog park with adult dogs who may or may not have been vaccinated is a risk. The same is true of an adult dog whose shot record you don’t know (perhaps a dog you found or adopted). It’s important for YOU to get them up to date on their shots, or (an option in the case of adopted adult dogs who may not have had their shots) test them for adequate level of vaccines in their body, before exposing them to other dogs
Puppies bring a lot of energy and very little by way of manners to the dog park. You may not think your adult dog has manners, after all he scratches himself in impolite places and eats things off the ground, but an adult dog who has spent significant time with other adult dogs knows how to carry himself with them. He recognizes an invitation to play or a request to be left alone. He will probably even respect it. You yourself can probably recognize dog “play” and “go” signals, but your puppy cannot. When an adult dog gets sick of your puppy biting on their tail or ears with sharp little teeth, or they just want to be left in peace to lick themselves, your puppy is unlikely to get the message. The adult dog may just try to get away from the puppy but if that fails it can escalate to a growl and then a nip or bite. Make sure your puppy is “mature” enough to handle the dog park, and when you do take him, It’s up to you to watch your puppy in the dog park and keep a close eye on his behavior. (Continued…)