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Keeping Your Dog Safe at the Dog Park

Photo: Courtesy of Zachary Casler

Dog parks are becoming a common sight in many communities. After all, they can be a wonderful place for families to bond with their dogs as they play off-leash in a secure setting. But not all dogs fit into a park setting, so how to do you know, before you go, if your dog is going to have fun at the dog park? Check out these critical tips for keeping our dogs safe.

1. Consider temperament 

Dogs that enjoy the dog park will actively seek out the attention of other dogs. If your dog doesn’t enjoy playing with other dogs, he may prefer other activities.

2. Recognize discomfort 

Socialization means positive interactions are created to help a dog grow, play and learn. A bad experience, especially for a puppy, can have lifelong implications.

3. Teach basic skills 

Dogs do best in a social setting if they have been taught some basic skills, including coming to you when you call, even if they’re off-leash playing with another dog.

4. Find the right friends 

Some dogs play well, while others can be a bit rowdy. Because of this, dogs should be separated by size and play style. Small dogs should never be placed with very large dogs. Find your pet a buddy that has a similar play style.

5. Be an advocate

Remove your dog from a group if the play seems inappropriate and overly rough. Take your dog home if that is happening to him or if your dog is the instigator of that type of play.

Robin Bennett, CPDT-KA, Board Chair, the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, [email protected]

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