You usually take your dog to the local doggie day care center on work days but on your days off you would like to spend some time with her, preferably in an off-leash dog park where she can run around free and meet other dogs. Many cities now have off-leash dog parks and if you want to make the most of your time there it is important to keep a few things in mind. Off-leash dog parks are different from dog day care centers because dogs are not supervised or in a controlled environment.
If your dogs is not trained or socialized with other dogs an off-leash dog park may not be a very good idea. She may attack other dogs and as a result be attacked which can lead to all sorts of trouble – other pet owners may seek to sue you for harm to their dogs. It is recommended that before you take your dog to an off-leash dog park she be able to obey basic commands like “come” and “sit”. Here are other things to keep in mind:
- Your pet may adore her toys but bringing them along to an off-leash dog park is never a good idea. Dogs can be quite possessive and toys on the playground can lead to fights. You can bring along a ball to throw around or a Frisbee but if it seems to be causing trouble keep it away.
- Make sure to check out the dog park before you take your dog there. Some off-leash dog parks are very poorly maintained and they can be both unsanitary and unsafe for your pet. You may want to do a check with your dog on a leash before you set her free.
- It is never a good idea to bring kids to an off-leash dog park. There is a reason why cities allocate different areas for families and dogs. Children and dogs are both unpredictable and you never know what can happen when they are put together. While your dog may be well trained and children-friendly you have no way of knowing if other dogs in the park are. If your children have to play with their dog you can find them a different open space where there aren’t other dogs.
- Most modern off-leash dog parks have poop bag stations and disposal areas but it is always a god idea to bring your own poop bags – you never know when the station will run out. Make sure to clean up after your own pet – it is bad manners not to and you may find yourself paying a fine if you are spotted by a policeman.
- An off-leash dog park is a public space and we all contribute to keeping it neat and tidy. Play your part to keep the space clean and safe for all dogs all the time. If you bring something to eat or drink don’t litter the area with wrappers, bottles or cans.
- While you may want to play with your dog when she is at the off-leash dog park you shouldn’t forget that the reason why you brought her there is so that she could socialize with other dogs. Stand back and let her make new friends. Only intervene if body language spells trouble. You can toss around a ball from time to time, but for the most part let your dog have fun with other canines.
Lastly, if you have a small dog or a puppy it is never a good idea to let her interact with bigger dogs – they are territorial and predatory and unpleasant things may happen. Good off-leash dog parks have sections set aside for puppies and small breeds.