Last week, in Part I, I shared with you the reasons my dogs and I no longer frequent dog parks. Perhaps you’re at a crossroads yourself and wondering if a dog park is still safe for your dog. Or maybe you have a new dog or puppy and need to decide if you’ll start dog park visits at all.
Following are things to take into account.
- Size. Is it fair that little dogs often get hurt by bigger dogs who play too roughly? No. But if your dog is the little dog, it’s your responsibility to protect it, regardless. Some dog parks have areas designated for small dogs. While your dog’s safety is never guaranteed (Sally was once jumped by another small Terrier) the odds for serious injury are often less when the size differential isn’t as great. Check out Alimagnet Dog Park in Burnsville, Lake of the Isles Dog Park in Minneapolis, or Otter Lake Regional Dog Park in White Bear Township for their small dog sections. Or leave your fave small dog park option in the comments!
- Age. Just because your dog is getting old doesn’t mean he or she can’t go to a dog park. However, if your dog also has age-related arthritis or aches and pains, activity over which you have more control (like a leashed walk) might better help you to prevent injury.
- ‘Tude. It bears repeating – if your dog has a “tougher than thou” attitude, a dog park can be fraught be trouble. At the very least, your dog should be thoroughly voice-command-trained so you can get him to come to you in the event of trouble. In fact, voice commands are pretty essential to any dog park visitor, and yet many dogs have very poor recall when off-leash within a dog park.
- Aggressive to other dogs. If your dog has shown aggressive behavior towards other dogs (growling or biting other than in play), it is irresponsible to bring your dog to a dog park. Enough said.
- Aggressive to humans, especially small ones. This may be an unpopular view, but I also think that dogs who are aggressive towards children shouldn’t be brought to dog parks. Are dog parks specifically for children? No. But they’re not off-limits to them either, and if a dog has shown aggression previously, it’s not safe to allow her free rein in an area that will certainly include other people and may also include children.
- Runs away. Not all dog parks are completely fenced, so you won’t want to bring your dog to a dog park if your canine friend is inclined to head for the hills the minute he is off-leash. Again, a good mastery of voice commands is essential, and that training should be in place long before you set foot in a dog park.
I hope this article was informative and will help you decide if dog parks are right for you and your dog! Happy and safe exercising to you both!