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At first glance, you would think that dog parks are one of the best places for you and your pooch to be. They encourage you and your dog to get fresh air, explore, exercise, and bond with each other. With the blissful image of our four-legged companions playing and horsing around with their tails wagging, it’s hard to think of a flaw when it comes to visiting dog parks. While it may be true that dog parks are a wonderful place to go to, aren’t always the best place for both you and your dog to stay safe. If you look closely, there are a number of dog park hazards that you need to watch out for to ensure that you both make it home in one piece .

Dog Park Perils to Steer Clear Of:

  • Ill pooches: Bringing your pooch to the park can expose him to other pets which may not be in great health. Further, plenty of visitors neglect to pick-up after their pets, leaving little piles of germs strewn about. Because there’s no easy way for you to know which other animals are good for your dog to mingle with, protect your dog from possible health risks by updating all of his vaccinations. Deworm your dog on a regular basis and ensure that he receives shots that prevent kennel cough and canine flu. Spaying and neutering your pooch is recommended (sometimes required) before visiting an off-leash park.
  • Potential injuries: Some of the typical activities at dog parks are playing fetch and running. Letting your dog run at maximum speed may be great as a form of exercise. However, it can result in mild to severe injuries if he accidentally steps into a hole or on anything sharp. To avoid this, always see to it that you know very well the condition of the area where your pooch is playing. Inspect for holes that other dogs have dug, and check the area for sharp objects that he could hurt himself on.
  • Dehydration: In the excitement of all the sights and scents, wide open space to run, and playtime with other dogs, many dogs are simply too preoccupied to stop and take a drink. Make sure your dog always has access to fresh, clean water and that he knows where to find it. Be mindful of his activity level and make sure he takes short water breaks frequently. Watch closely for excessive panting, signs of slowing down or suddenly becoming less animated than usual. It doesn’t need to be hot outside for a dog to become dehydrated.
  • Aggressive dogs: Not every dog owner is as thoughtful and responsible as you are. Many people bring their dogs to the park with the attitude that “the dogs will work it out.” If you suspect another dog at the park is aggressive, it may be in your best interest to leave and try again later, after they’re gone. Likewise, if your own dog doesn’t always play well with others, it’s best to bring him when the park is empty. It’s also important to note that many perfectly gentle, friendly dogs can become toy or leash aggressive. It’s best to leave the toys at home, and unleash your dog once inside the park to avoid any unnecessary conflict.
  • Small playful children: Although dogs and small kids are commonly a good combination, there are times when children are a hazard at dog parks. A child who runs up to an unfamiliar pooch to play with him can cause the dog to feel rather threatened which often never ends well. Also, a small child’s size can put them at the dog’s muzzle level; making them more vulnerable to injury. To prevent this from happening, always be alert about everything that’s going on around you.

For many of us, and our pets, a trip to the dog park is fun and rewarding. As long as you’re aware of your dog and his surroundings at all times, it can be a great place to wear off some energy and make new friends.

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