People ask us all the time what we think about dog parks. The response is tricky, because we love that these parks offer great areas for dogs to run and get exercise, but there are risks to be aware of if you choose to bring your dog(s) to a dog park.
Here are 4 things to walk away from if you see them happening at a dog park:
- While it sounds scary to some people, growling while playing can be perfectly normal for dogs. It’s their way of talking and getting the other dog to engage with them. However, when play turns to aggression the hair will stand up on a dog’s neck and the dog will start to lift it’s lip to show it’s teeth. If a dog starts to show these signs towards your dog, it’s time to leave.
- Watching your dog run and play with another dog can fill your heart with joy, but when a dog continues to chase after your dog once your dog stops running and won’t leave them alone, it’s a sign that the other dog is not reading your dog’s body language and cues. It’s better to move on from a situation where one dog is saying “I’m done” and the other just isn’t getting it. Things can escalate quickly in a situation like that, and you want playtime to be fun; not push your dog’s patience to the limit.
- If you see someone training their dog, it’s best to keep your distance. They may be looking for distractions while their dog is training and invite you to walk closer, but don’t. You don’t know what training skill they are working on, and it could be something like dog aggression that puts you and your dog in an unsafe situation.
- It’s at the discretion of each family whether they have kids at the dog park, but in general, it’s best to keep your dog away from other people’s kids in this situation. Your dog may be generally very friendly with kids, but when dogs are at a dog park they are stimulated by everything going on and may forget their manners. Plus, not everyone has taught their kids the proper way to interact with new dogs and they could be knocked over or injured. It’s just best to steer clear of areas with kids when your dog is running freely.
So, while we don’t generally recommend dog parks as the best way to socialize or exercise your dog, if you do choose to go to a dog park please keep these tips in mind and try to go at off-peak hours. Always stay close and pay attention to what your dog is doing. After all, you are there to have fun together anyway, right?!
For other options, check out your county and Wisconsin state parks (scroll down for a list of pet-friendly parks) and take your dog for a hike! While leashes are required, you and your dog will have fun exploring together. If you find yourself short on time to socialize and exercise your dog, check out our dog day care options.
Do you take your dog to county or state parks? Let us know which hiking trails you love to take your dog to and we’ll share a list of local favorites!