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Dog Parks: Are They Always Safe?

Posted by Awesome Doggies

Dog parks are created to be a safe destination for dogs and their owners to enjoy a time of outdoor recreation. Here in San Diego, we are fortunate to have some of the best in the country. Although they are all worth your consideration, it is important to keep in mind that dog parks, just like playgrounds for children, come with a set of dangers.

dogs-at-a-dog-parkDog parks can be a huge benefit, but they are not for everyone. Before you take your dog to an on or off leash park, know the dangers to avoid.

Big Dog Syndrome

The need to be the “big dog” is real and for some dogs, being around other dogs increases the need, and increases their aggressiveness. The danger is even greater for smaller and toy breeds that are quickly overcome by bigger, stronger dogs. Many parks have separate areas for small dog play.

dogs-fighting-at-parkDog Fights

Yes, there will be dog fights at the dog park. Plan on it. Dogs have their own social structure and ways of establishing hierarchy and sometimes this leads to some aggression. Sometimes the damage can be quite serious. Be alert to signs of potential conflict and be prepared to remove yourself and your dog from the situation before it escalates.

Health Risks

Unfortunately, there is no way to know the health of the other dogs that are at, or have been to the dog park. Each of them could potentially leave serious viruses behind, such as canine distemper, parvo, and others that other dogs can pick up and become infected by. Be sure all vaccinations are up to date.

Intended Harm

Though rare, the potential for deliberate harm is real. However inexplicable it may be, some humans poses harmful intent towards dogs. It may come in the form of sharp object placed in the play area or even poison laced balls and toys. Look out for your dog because they don’t know to be careful about this kind of malicious tampering.

A Few Safety Tips

  • safe-dog

    Keep your dog on leash until you know the other dogs.

  • Teach your dog the “yuck “command for things he should not touch or smell.

  • Keep your dog’s vaccinations up to date.

  • Walk through the area looking for sharp objects.

  • Do not let your dog share water bowls or drink from a community fountain.

  • Throw away any toys left behind by unknown persons.

  • Stay near your pet.

  • Consider alternatives like play dates in your own fenced yard.

For more information about dog parks and how to stay safe while having fun, check out the ASPCA's tips and guidelines for dog park safety!

Dog parks can be completely safe and enjoyable places if you are mindful of possible safety issues. Just be alert and stay aware --- and have a great time!

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