Most people have a picture in their head of dog parks. Before I get started and I get accused of “throwing shade” on parks, let me say that we treat our dogs as close to members of our family as possible and it is my opinion that many times, Dog parks can be a bad place for your canine buddies. Dog parks are a great idea. In a perfect world, everyone could take their pets there and let them have a blast playing with other dogs. However, many times that isn’t what happens.

I will just touch on a few negative things that can happen. They’re many but I won’t be the blogger of doom and list them all. You can get the jest of what I am trying to get across.

1- Diseases- unless we know the other people and dogs at the park, we don’t know if those dogs have been vaccinated or what that dog may be carrying. This is my biggest fear going to the parks.

2- Aggressive dogs – we have dogs coming to our training company all the time that have been attacked at dog parks. Since most of these pets are older and have memory of negative experiences, this can be horrible for your puppies emotional behavior. We have helped dogs that have become dog aggressive from these attacks and also ones that have become very afraid of all other dogs making it very difficult for owners to take them places. I am a huge proponent of socialization being a lifetime effort for our dogs but negative socialization is worse than none at all.

3- Bad habits – Most dogs are not trained to the levels of behavior that they should. Dogs pick up other dogs actions and behaviors and will emulate them if left unchecked. It is always best to train a good behavior before a chance of a bad behavior can arise. Dogs picking up bad habits can lead to more issues and training problems than most dogs normally come with.

Everyone knows that dogs need socialization and exercise. Having other dogs to play and interact with can be a great time for both owners and dogs. With that said, look for other friends that have dogs that you know have taken care of any issues that needed to be. Look for groups and activities that may meet up with other dog owners. Visit a dog park without your pup and check it out beforehand.

If you do decide to take your dog to a dog park –

1- Look to make sure other owners have picked up waste. This is trouble waiting to happen if they haven’t.

2- Monitor who your dog is playing with. Watch for signs of normal dog play and signs that the dogs are not getting along well.

3- Determine if they are too many dogs there. Too many dogs will possibly overwhelm your pup and inhibit you from being able to keep a watchful eye on them

4- Are the fences and gates secure to keep dogs inside and also keep strays out.

5- Golden rule – It is our job to protect our dogs. It is always best that if we sense that our dog is scared or uncomfortable that we remove them from the situation immediately.

If you are not comfortable going to the park or you can’t find friends or a group to have your dog play with, remember that you are your dogs best friend, bff if you will, and that they will be just as happy getting outside and playing with you!