Dog parks are secure open spaces that allow dogs to run around off the lead, but finding one that suits your dog may take some time. Many towns and cities lack large, open spaces where dogs can run off some energy, so dog parks are the perfect solution. They are also a good way of socialising your dog and making some new friends. Some parks even offer benches and pavilions to allow dog owners to sit down and shelter from the elements. Before taking your dog to a dog park for the first time, however, it is best to go along on your own and see exactly what the park has to offer. Consider the following points carefully:
- Identify your dog’s needs – some dogs are very confident and love socialising, while others are rather shy and nervous about making new friends. You may have a very small dog that would benefit from a park offering separate areas for large and small dogs, or maybe you have a large, energetic dog that gets on well with every dog it meets. It is therefore up to you to decide what type of park is best for your dog.
- Consider the location of the park – the location of the park is very important, as it will need to be within easy reach to enable you to use it regularly. Most parks are usually positioned in a safe area away from very busy roads, but you will still need to check this out.
- Consider the layout of the park and its facilities – all dog parks are slightly different, so it is important to decide what facilities you require. Some parks offer separate areas for large and small dogs, for example, and others may offer leashed and unleashed areas. There are even some parks that offer agility equipment, water fountains and regular dog training classes.
- Take a good look at the fencing – the majority of dog parks have safe and secure fencing that varies in height from around 4 to 6 feet. This is generally high enough to contain most dogs, but the height of the fencing could be an issue if your dog is large and particularly good at jumping over fences.
- Check for lighting – not every dog park provides lighting, and this may restrict the amount of time you can spend in the park during the winter months. This could be an important point if you need to exercise your dog very early in the morning or in the evening.
- Look for parking – if there are no dog parks nearby, you may need to drive to get to one. Check out if any of them have car parks, or if you can easily park your car close to the park.
- Look out for any rules and regulations and find out who is responsible for upholding them – dog parks usually display a list of rules and regulations at the park entrance. Rules will include things like: required vaccinations, neutering, cleaning up after your dog, charges for using the park, opening times, etc. It is obviously up to you to decide whether or not the rules are acceptable to you and find out if people actually follow them.
- Check if there are plenty of dog bins available – it is obviously a good sign if there are plenty of dog bins available in the park, as this means that there is absolutely no excuse for people not to use them. Some parks even offer disposable bags to use in the dog bins.
- Visit the park at different times of the day – this is an important part of your research, as you will need to find out when the park is busy and when it is quiet. Don’t forget to check the park at the weekend as well as in the week.
- Speak to the dog owners and observe their behaviour – when the park is busy and lots of dogs are charging around together, it is important to observe how the owners behave towards their dogs. It may not be the best park to choose if many of them are chatting on their cell phones, listening to their iPods, or engrossed in deep conversation while their dogs are busy being aggressive with other dogs.
It is always a good idea to take your dog for a good walk on the lead before going to the dog park, as this will help to ensure that your dog is not too boisterous when it is let off the lead at the park. If you have more than one dog, you may need to take them to the dog park separately unless they are very well-behaved. It is up to you to be a responsible dog owner at all times and make sure that your dog gets the most out of the park, without spoiling the experience for other dogs and their owners.
Thank you for the article about Dog Parks. One additional comment I would like to add is for the pet owner to insure "safety" in the area around the Dog Park. Last Saturday, I was the victim of a "smash and grab" while parked at the Pompano Beach Dog Park in Pompano Beach, FL. I understand I was the 3rd or 4th victim in one week. I was told that the thieves are sitting and watching as a woman gets out of her car with the dog, notices she's not carrying a purse and smashes the car window in attempt to steal the purse. I was very fortunate because I only had an empty dog carrier stolen, which looked like a purse. It was a very upsetting occurance and a great inconvenience with the repair of the car window. I doubt that I will go back to that Dog Park again! There should have been signs posted, alerting people that this criminal activity was occurring, on a frequent basis.
on 6/4/2011 at 7:36 AM