Dog Park Dos’s and Don’ts
Peter H. Eeg DVM
Poolesville Veterinary Clinic
Our town is very fortunate that due to hard work from several residents and the Commissioner’s of Poolesville, we have a well designed and managed Dog Park. Here’s what you should know for you and your pet before joining the fun.
It is a great idea to discuss your plans to take your canine pal to the dog park with your veterinarian and/or your dog’s trainer before you go. Getting an idea of how your dog friend will interact with the other “crew” of dogs at the park can be very helpful in limiting dog to dog and dog to human issues.
Aggression is not uncommon at a dog park. This is true because dogs use aggression as a tactic to determine the motives of other dogs and provide insight to other dogs about what they are representing. It is important that you have an idea of where your dog falls on the, “Big Dog on Campus” spectrum. Discussing with your veterinarian or your favorite trainer about the potentials for fights, bites and potential disease sharing is a very good first step to a safe and happy outing to the dog park.
Talking about your pets’ temperament, age, size and health can determine whether your furry canine is ready to be introduced to other dogs and humans. It is OK if your dog is not a dog park dog. Not all dogs are “dog park ready” dogs. Some are too afraid, and some are too aggressive to have a safe and fun time.
Make sure that your buddy is current on all vaccinations and preventative health measures, like flea/tick protection and internal parasite protection. Dogs that are frequent dog parkers should have fecal exams done at least 2-3 times a year to help avoid unexpected problems.
Most importantly have your veterinarian and/or trainer help you recognize signs of aggression that may be evident from another dog or your own canine friend. Simple visual ques from another dog’s body language allowing the identification of fear or anxiety that can trigger aggression are important things to understand. This can give you great insight into their plans during a meeting with your canine pal.
Make sure your have consistent simple obedience commands well set between yourself and your dog friend. It sounds silly, but “Sit Means Sit, Stay Means Stay and Leave it Means Leave it”, until otherwise commanded are critical to safety for you and your K-9 kids. These obedience commands can often be the difference between a great day at the park and a bad day visiting your favorite veterinarian to get medical attention for your dog.
Lastly, check the dog park out without your dog before you bring them for a visit. Talking to other human dog parkers can give you greater peace of mind that you and your canine will have fun and be safe at the dog park.