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Unleash the Fun Safely with These 4 Pet Owner Safety Advice for Dog Parks

When visiting an off-leash play area with your dog, remember our safety advice because the dog park can be a dangerous place for those who are unprepared.

#1: Protect your dog against infectious diseases

Reputable dog parks require proof of vaccination before granting access, so your dog will need—at a minimum—to be current on their rabies, distemper, parvovirus, and bordetella vaccinations. Canine influenza, parainfluenza, and leptospirosis vaccinations also may be required or recommended, so ensure your pup is up to date before heading to the park.

#2: Visit during off-times

When the day is over and the dogs are overflowing with energy and eager to let off steam, dog parks are typically the most crowded. Dogs that are overexcited are less likely to behave politely, which can lead to bullying and fights. If you want your dog to be able to exercise without having to worry about a pack of dogs chasing after them as they chase a ball, choose an off-peak time.

#3: Use two forms of identification

Accidents can happen, even though it’s unlikely that your dog will escape through the double gates at the park’s entrance. Give your pet several forms of identification, such as collar ID tags, a collar embroidered with your phone number, and a microchip, to ensure a happy reunion.

#4: Watch for warning signals

Dog parks are not the place to teach socialization skills, so keep a sharp eye out for inappropriate behaviors or signs that your dog is uncomfortable. Stress, anxiety, and fear can appear in your dog as:

  • Running away
  • Tucked tail
  • Freezing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Panting disproportionate to activity
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Cowering or exposing their abdomen
  • Clingy behavior
  • Lip licking
  • Whale eye
  • Raised hair
  • Reactivity or aggression (e.g., barking, growling, nipping)

At the first hint of unease from your dog, leave the dog park before things escalate.

Not all dogs should go to off-leash dog parks. Instead of being in a big pack of boisterous dogs, many dogs prefer one-on-one interaction or going on their own adventures. No matter the preferred method of socialization for your dog, make sure they receive regular preventive care to keep them free from parasites and infectious diseases. Call our staff to make an appointment for your dog’s yearly wellness checkup so they can stay current.