More and more communities are providing dog parks, where dog owners can take their pets to run off-leash. There are more than 600 designated off-leash areas in the US. Most provide fenced areas, but some are open and designated as off-leash areas. Most coastal cities and recreational areas have at least one dog beach. A typical dog park has a double-gated entrance and exit to prevent dogs that are already in the park from escaping when a new dog is entering the park. There may be separate areas for large and small dogs. There should be water available, plenty of shade and pet waste disposal areas. Some parks may even have a pool or pond and agility equipment.

Dog parks are a great way to socialize your dog. However, you should make sure your dog has the right temperament before visiting a dog park for the first time. Make sure they are not aggressive towards other dogs or people. It is always a good idea to teach your dog basic obedience before having them visit a park. Dog parks are also a great social setting for the owners. It’s a great way to make social contacts with other dog lovers.

A tired pet is a happy pet. Dog parks are an excellent way for your dog to get the extra work-out he or she needs. Most experts agree that taking your pet to a dog park should not be their only source of exercise. In fact, most recommend taking your dog for a brisk 20-30 minute walk before entering the park. This will make him or her a little calmer and less likely to get into an altercation with another dog. Well-exercised pets are also better behaved at home. They are less likely to bark excessively and exhibit destructive behavior such as chewing. Of course, pets that get plenty of exercise are healthier.

Still, there are some potential problems to consider before deciding to take your dog to a pet park. Understand that there is always the potential for a dogfight. Another dog could attack your dog or vice-versa. You may think that your dog would never attack another dog, but never say never. Even the most well behaved dog can have a bad day. In case of a dogfight, there is the potential for a lawsuit. Even dogs “playing nice” can accidentally inflict damage on each other. Torn ears and cuts can occur. Sometimes stitches may be required, in which case the owner of the dog that inflicted the damage may be responsible for the vet bill. There is also the chance that a dog may bite you.

Most people who visit pet parks with their dogs are respectful of other people and pets around them. You may occasionally encounter an owner that is not willing to control their dog. They may let their dog continuously harass other dogs and people. If someone’s dog is continually bothering you or your dog, ask the owner to keep the dog away from you and your dog. If they refuse, it is best to leave or take your dog to another area if possible. It’s not worth a confrontation. In many areas, park employees or volunteers are on-site to monitor the park. If a dog owner is unable/refuses to keep their dog under control, speak to the monitor and if necessary, request to file a written complaint. Parasites may be an issue when visiting a dog park. Dogs may pick up parasites from feces or stagnant water. If the park does not appear well maintained, find another park. Keeping your pet on a flea and tick preventative is a good potential solution to this problem. Some flea and tick preventatives help protect against certain types of worms. You should also make sure your pet is up to date on all vaccines, including bordetella (kennel cough) before going to a dog park.

There are some basic rules of etiquette you should follow when visiting a dog park. All parks have a list of rules and regulations posted at some point in the park, usually at the entrance. Take time to read the rules and follow them. Make sure your dog is healthy. Never take a dog that has fleas or any communicable diseases such as kennel cough to a pet park. Never take a puppy to a dog park until it has had its entire series of vaccines. This is for the safety of your puppy as well as the other dogs in the park. Clean up after your dog. There is nothing more frustrating than stepping into a pile of poop left by some irresponsible owner. Don’t be that irresponsible owner. Don’t allow your dog to harass other dogs or people. If your dog is bothering a dog or person who obviously doesn’t want to be bothered, be respectful and call your dog off.

A pet park is no place for a female dog in heat. Bringing in a female dog that is in heat is a fight waiting to happen. Keep in mind that there will most likely be intact male dogs there. Don’t bring more dogs than you can handle. You should be able to keep an eye on your dog or dogs at all times and be able to control their behavior.

Following these rules can make for a great experience to share with your dog. You both may make some new friends.
For a listing of dog parks in your area, visit www.dogpark.com.

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