Are dog parks safe? 

Dog parks are a great place to let your dogs run and play. But take safeguards to ensure your pet’s safety before you get to the park and after you get home. First, consider whether your dog is socialized and trained well enough to play at a dog park.

Visit the park alone before you take your pets.
Parks are maintained by different organizations, and all have responsibilities other than maintaining the dog park. Some venues have a double entry to allow owners to leash their animals safely in two areas before the wide-open area. This is a good sign that the park takes safety seriously.

Even if someone you know recommended a dog park, considerations these insights.

1. Ensure the park is set back from the road. Fenced areas are safest.  Some dog parks are fenced behind a community area, so be sure you know where to take the dogs when you get to the park.

2. Seek out the rules posted at the park. Beware if no rules are posted.

3. Verify that the park is well fenced with no breaks or holes in the fence.

4. Ensure the play area has sufficient grass for the pets to play. None of us want their pets to play – or worse, wallow – in mud, especially when you have to drive them home in your car.

5. Check the area for other pets’ messes. All owners are responsible for their own pick-up. Some facilities offer pick-up baggies, but be prepared with your own bags if the dispenser is empty.

6. Look for trash and harmful items on the ground. Inspect for things like broken glass, can pop-tops, cigarette butts and paper trash. No dog should play in a dangerous environment.

If you decide to take your dog to the park, follow these tips.
Observe other dogs Note if they are playing well or show signs of aggression or possessive behavior. Your priority is to keep your dog(s) safe. If the play area isn’t a good choice, just walk your pup away from the dog area or go somewhere else to play.

2. Limit sharing. Most dog parks offer fountains and bowls for pets. They are not cleaned as regularly as your pets’ bowls at home, and bacteria comes from many outdoor sources. To keep your dogs safe, take your own bowl and water for your pets.

3. Avoid common toys. Well-meaning owners leave balls or discs behind for pets or share with other pets. If you don’t know if the pet has current vaccinations, limit interaction and shared toys.

After playing in the park, take precautions.
1. Check your pup’s paws for debris or cuts. Then check the fur, ears, and other delicate areas for ticks and fleas.

2. Let the park managers know If you were happy or disappointed, and rate the park on-line to help other owners.

Information about local dog parks are available at

By Beth Crosby