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What to look for in a dog park near me?

Schnauzer in a dog park on a leash

The benefits of taking your canine companion to a dog park are boundless. Not only will your pooch get all the exercise they need and more, but they’ll also make new friends – and you might even have a chinwag too!

Letting your dog off the leash in a safe and secure area is fantastic for their mental and physical development. They’ll run themselves ragged chasing a ball, their tail, or even each other. You can even make a day of it with your dog owner pals and tuck into a picnic while your dogs play.

What is a dog park?

A dog park is a designated fenced area suitable for dogs to play off the leash. This area will be very clearly signposted and is separate to a children’s park or picnic area. A quick Google will show dog parks in your area.

What should you expect from a dog park?

Family taking their dogs to the dog park where their dogs are meeting others

Depending on what day and time you go to the dog park, you can expect different things. At first, try and take your dog to the park when it’s quieter – during a working day or later in the evening is a good idea. Weekends and holidays will be very busy, especially if the sun is shining!

Only you can know how your dog will behave at the dog park, so be smart when deciding when to go (and when to leave). If your dog is getting tired, take them home – they can always come back another time. Better to be safe than sorry.

What should you look for in a new dog park?

Australian shepherds next to a bench in a dog park

A dog park is a fantastic place to socialize your pup, especially if they are the only dog in your household and love to play! Not every dog park is the same, so be aware of the following necessities every dog park should have before letting Fido off the leash.

The fence around the outside

Although your dog may not be prone to running away, it’s always safe to choose a dog park with a safe and secure fence. This way, if your dog gets spooked or panics, they won’t run away into traffic.

Bins for poops

Make sure there are suitable trash facilities, so you can bin any poop without taking an eye off your dog.

No broken glass or other sharp objects

Sadly, we can’t always guarantee the park is used by the right people. So, have a scout around and make sure there’s no broken glass, trash or sharp objects in the dog park. If you have any concerns, take your dog elsewhere – it’s not worth the risk!

Friendly faces

It’s not all doom and gloom at the dog park. Look out for friendly faces (human and canine!) If your dog is making friends, then it’s a sign that this park is right for you. Speak to fellow dog owners and ask their opinion, how long have they been coming here? Are there any other dog parks they prefer? All questions are good questions where your dog’s safety and happiness are concerned.

Equally, if the dogs aren’t friendly then the chances are the owners aren’t either. Of course, dogs sometimes fight but if you don’t feel safe around the other dogs then you shouldn’t let your precious pup in with the mix.

How you should behave in a dog park

Whether you’re heading to the dog park for the first time or you’re a seasoned goer and simply need a refresher, here are some tips on how to behave in a dog park:

Always pick up after your dogs

Pit bull playing with a ball in a fenced in dog park

You should always do this anyway, but it is particularly important in the dog park like so many other pups will visit there each day, the area becomes a biohazard.

Watch your dog at all times

If you know your dog has certain triggers, watch closely for them. For example, your dog may not be a fan of other breeds – if this is the case, don’t let your dog loose in the park if those breeds are present. This kind of forethought will help to avoid any unpleasant conflict between dogs, and even between owners. This will also ensure your dog does not get out of the park without you knowing. 




Be friendly

Smile and have a chat! Dog parks are great places to make like-minded friends, you may even get recommendations for dog boarders, groomers or pet shops. This is particularly helpful if you’re a recent dog owner and still have a few worries on your mind.

How to introduce your dog to a dog park

three dalmatians on a walk to the dog park on a cold fall day

Take your dog to the park when it’s quiet, this way they will have time to explore the area without distraction from other dogs. They will probably circle the park and have a good sniff – they may even attempt to leave their mark on the fence or any trees. Give them enough time to explore and take a ball or a frisbee to get them going.

If another dog is in the park or enters the park when your dog is already there, be watchful. Hopefully, they will have a sniff of each other and then either separate or decide to play together. It’s all about learning to assess the situation as it unfolds. You know your dog best, so if at any point you or they feel uncomfortable, it’s best to leave and come back another time.

Dog parks can be amazing places. They let your dog let off steam and have fun without limits, and you can rest easy knowing they won’t run away. Try out a few and choose your favorite spot – you’ll see the transformation in your dog almost immediately!

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What to look for in a dog park near me By Ellen Forster

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