Are you on the fence about taking your dog to the dog park? Are you wondering about what the benefits and risks might be? I understand. We all want what is best for our dogs. But, sometimes we just don’t know what to do, so we don’t do anything. That doesn’t have to be the case! I’m here to help you make the best decision for your dog when it comes to visiting the local dog park or not.
Dog Park Pros
Exercise will keep your dog in tip-top health, and dogs should have at least an hour a day to exercise vigorously, at the dog park or elsewhere. Exercise provides strong bones and muscles, which are necessary for long-term good health. Your dog’s skeleton protects his organs, so keeping bones strong will protect their entire body. Also, if your dog falls or is in an accident, they are less likely to be seriously injured if their bones are strong.
Exercise also helps build and strengthen muscles, and your dog’s muscles help them move around easily. This agility becomes increasingly important as your dog ages, and getting around is not as easy as it used to be.
Exercise will also help keep your dog at a healthy weight. Overweight dogs are susceptible to suffering from many illnesses. No one wants their pet to suffer from heart disease, liver disease, cancer, or other health problems. Keeping your dog fit can help prevent these and many other horrible ailments and diseases.
Let’s face it, we all want our dogs to be the best behaved, am I right? Dogs that exhibit unwanted behaviors become a nuisance to us as well as all the other people that come in contact with them. Does your dog chew on your stuff, jump on you, or bark incessantly? Believe it or not, these are all behaviors that leave people dropping their dogs off at the shelter. But, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Unwanted behaviors can be reduced by taking your dog out of the house and to the dog park. The interaction with other dogs, as well as having the opportunity to explore the world outside of the home, fulfills your dog’s innate need to hunt and scavenge! This fulfillment helps release pent-up energy, which will help return your dog to a calm state.
Taking your dog to the local dog park will also provide your dog with an amazing opportunity for socialization. By interacting with the world around them and other dogs, your dog will become well adapted and less fearful in general.
Imagine if you never got out of the house; you would probably develop a whole host of anxieties and phobias. Your dog is no different; they need to be exposed to a world beyond home where they can hear different sounds, sniff different smells, and be around other dogs. Socialization at the dog park can help make your dog more confident and happier.
Dog Park Cons
Lack of Cleanliness
Unfortunately, a dog park is not the most sanitary environment. Often, people don’t clean up after their dogs. Aside from the problem of stepping in dog poop, you also need to be concerned about disease. Diseases can be spread through dog poop and shared water bowls at a dog park, and that’s a scary thought as a pet parent.
Exposure to Health Problems
Dogs that come to the dog park are not always vaccinated or taken to the vet regularly. You never know which dogs are vaccinated or not. You also don’t know which dogs are carrying diseases or not. A romp at the local dog park can result in your dog contracting something since there’s no one at the gate asking for proof of a clean bill of health.
A dog park can also mimic a kennel environment since many dogs have access to it. At a dog park, diseases such as kennel cough can be spread to your dog even if he’s in the best of health. Not only that, according to the Center for Disease Control, there are diseases that can be spread from dogs to humans. So, both you and your dog are at risk when visiting a dog park.
Unfortunately, not all dogs have manners, and the same goes for pet parents. Bringing your dog to the dog park can quickly turn dangerous if a manner-less, aggressive dog shows up. If the dogs in the park are not trained in simple commands and do not listen to their pet parents, a little scuffle can turn into a bloody fight.
Even if things don’t get aggressive, some dogs can be generally annoying and do things like taking your dog’s toys. Some pet parents don’t regulate their dogs at the parks either, sitting idly by as their dog gets on your dog’s nerves. If this happens, please report them to whoever runs the dog park!
Is the Dog Park Right for You and Your Pup?
There’s a lot to consider before you grab your dog and head out to the local dog park. Before you go, consider these points and use your best judgment to determine if the dog park is right for you and your dog. There are many dog parks to choose from, and some might have more pros than cons, and vice versa. If you go during off-hours or with friends that have well-behaved dogs and apply safety and cleanliness best practices, many of your concerns can be minimized!
Want to go to one of Worcester’s new dog parks? Check out more information in the Friends Of Worcester Dog Parks Facebook group.
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