Dog parks can be a great place for canine friends to socialize, exercise, and have fun. However, not all pups are suited to the dog park environment. Dog owners need to assess the dog park environment before taking their pups there. Once there, smart owners will always be watching and evaluating the situation for their dogs as they play and interact with others. Every new dog introduced to the group will change the dynamic. A visit to a dog park is not a good time for owners to be doing anything other than watching their dogs.
Big Dogs and Little Dogs Don’t Mix Well
Many dog parks have separate areas for large dogs and little dogs for a very good reason. Introducing a little dog into a group of large dogs can be courting disaster. For large dogs with a strong prey drive, your little one will look like an appealing appetizer. Should an attack happen, owners will be helpless against a pack of large dogs. Never accept assurances that “It’s OK, my dog is friendly,” from other owners. Prey drive is a force of nature and has little to do with the friendliness or unfriendliness of any individual dog.
The Dangers of Unruly Behavior
Dogs of any size can be unruly and placing such dogs in a dog park environment is a bad idea. Dogs with behaviors that are excitable or aggressive do not belong at a dog park. If you as the owner do not know how to read doggy body language, or if your pup does not know how to interact politely with other dogs, he may well be at risk of being hurt by another dog. Whether it’s your dog or another dog misbehaving, any unruly behavior is an indicator that it’s time to leash up and leave the park.
It’s Too Stressful for Some Dogs
Some dogs simply don’t do well with a lot of stimulation or in overly crowded places. Going to the dog park may cause your pup to become overstimulated or anxious. If this is the case, it’s best to give him other outlets for exercise and socialization, like going on regular walks or playing fetch in wide-open spaces where he can run around freely and get great exercise.
The Risk of Illness is High
Close contact between dogs from many different homes can, unfortunately, increase the transmission rate of disease. This is especially concerning for younger dogs. Even if you have recently taken your puppy for vaccinations, his immune system may still be too immature for him to interact safely at doggy daycare or a dog park. Check with your vet to be certain that all vaccines are up-to-date and have had time to become established before letting your pet into any type of public area where he might interact with ill animals.
It is important to know what type of setting works best for each individual dog when determining whether dog parks are right for them. Most dogs benefit from having regular outdoor activity and visiting a dog park can be great fun. But there are some dogs who should refrain from doing so entirely. Always make sure you know what category your pet falls into!