Dog park safety tips

dog park safety tips

Heading to the dog park is a favorite time of day for many dogs—and with friends to play with, time to stretch their legs, explore and be active, it’s no wonder dogs love it! 

Dog parks have so much to offer to our canine companions: mental stimulation, exercise and social interaction, but there are lots of things to consider before strolling over and joining in on the fun. These tips can help keep your companion healthy and safe when hanging out with their friends. 


  • Always check with your veterinarian. Young puppies that aren’t fully vaccinated are at risk for serious and potentially fatal infections. Until they’ve had their full series of puppy vaccinations and time to develop their immune system following vaccination (typically 18-20 weeks of age), the dog park should be avoided.
  • Keep your dog’s vaccinations up-to-date, especially for diseases that are easily spread, such as canine upper respiratory disease, distemper, parvovirus and leptospirosis.
  • Protect your dog by using flea, tick and intestinal parasite preventives to stop “hitchhikers” from latching on for a ride, since there’s no way to know if the other dogs at the dog park are flea- or parasite-free.
  • Always bring water to keep your dog hydrated during their play session! 
  • If you have a toy or small dog (under 25 pounds), find a dog park that only allows small dogs. Some large dogs don’t get along with small dogs, and dog bite injuries from a large dog to a small dog are sometimes fatal.
  • With puppies, try to visit at quieter times so your pet can get used to this sort of socialization. Once your puppy is fully vaccinated, they may find the dog park overwhelming. Some dog parks may even have specific times or separate areas for smaller dogs.
  • On that note, take your senior pet during quiet times. Elderly and arthritic dogs may not be able to keep up, turn as quickly during the chase or may get knocked down by younger, more agile dogs. 
  • Avoid going to the dog park at “rush hour.” Everyone gets home from work and takes their dog out for a romp and visit. But just like on the highway, rush hour means more dogs and more chances for an aggressive encounter or an injury.
  • Avoid giving out treats, as this may lead to aggression and conflict between dogs who want to snatch treats away—and pet owners too, who may not want their dog receiving your treats.
  • Leave toys (balls or frisbees) at home or save them for a different part of your outing. While your dog may keep their paws off other dogs’ toys, that doesn’t mean other dogs are as well-mannered. Other dogs may try to take off with your dog’s toys, leading to aggression.
  • Pay attention to your dog and how they’re interacting with their friends—and foes. While most of the time dogs can work out their issues, if there are signs that two dogs just aren’t getting along, it’s up to the owners to intervene. Don’t wait for a fight before you act. If your dog does get into a fight, use extreme caution to separate them since human bite injury often occurs during these scenarios.

Dog parks aren’t for everyone. If your dog cowers by your legs or tries to hide behind you, they may be a little timid and wary of the chaos of the dog park. Instead, choose a trail walk with dogs they know!

Keep your dog prepared for the dog park by using parasite prevention. Talk to your veterinarian today! >>

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