skip the dog park

10 Reasons Why You Should Skip The Dog Park

Updated 02/11/2022 by Ava Jaine

Many dog owners enjoy taking their pup to a dog park for a good amount of exercise and some doggie social time.

Unfortunately, not all dog parks are safe. It is important to understand all of the serious risks that can affect you and your dog at the dog park.

Here are 10 reasons why you should skip the dog park.

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Are Dog Parks Safe?

Professional dog trainers and behavior specialists caution about the dangers of public dog parks.

Many believe the risks out-way the benefits.

It is important to identify the potential hazards of a dog park before you make the trip. Get the facts, ask other dog parents about their experiences at your local dog park before you show up with your pup.

If you find that dog parks aren’t for you, we have some fun alternatives that can help you and your dog have some healthy outdoor adventures together.

 

Dog Park Pros and Cons

While some dog parks may have a positive effect on dogs, there are others that pose many risks to both you and your dog.

Pros:

  • Providing a fenced-in place to run
  • Allowing your dog to play off-leash
  • A way to help your dog release energy
  • Socializing with other dogs

Cons:

  • Dogs can learn unwanted social behavior
  • Aggressive behavior with other dogs
  • Injury or Death
  • Contracting various diseases and parasites
skip the dog park
 

Dog Park Dangers

1. Aggressive Behavior:

Your dog may love to play friendly with other dogs, but there are dog bullies out there too.

If your dog feels overwhelmed or unsafe in a hectic environment, this can negatively affect your bond with your dog and put them in danger.

Different Dog Play Styles:

Various dogs have different play styles that may not be compatible with your dog.

My dog, Eko, enjoys running and rolling around with other small dogs. His play style is very easy-going and gentle.

When he plays with other large dogs, he tends to get scared and defensive when they want to roughhouse. He’s just not into that type of play.

Does your dog like to play with other dogs?

Not all dogs want to be social with other dogs. Some just prefer to hang out with their pack (family or fur-siblings) instead of having playdates with other dogs.

 

2. Untrained Dogs:

Most dogs coming to the dog park are not trained, which puts your dog at risk.

Command training and socialization training should occur before entering a dog park.

Throwing an unsocialized pup into a large pen of dogs at a public park can be terrifying and cause a negative association with other dogs.

3. Off Leash:

You must be comfortable with your dog running off leash in a large pen with other off-leash dogs.

Some dog parks recommend taking off your dog’s collar or harness to avoid getting caught or grabbed by the other dogs.

This is pretty risky if you ever needed to quickly grab your pup when a dog fight breaks out.

skip the dog park
 

4. Multiple Dogs:

Many of us have multiple dogs at home, and would like to take them all out at the same time for exercise. Not a good idea at a dog park!

 Multiple dogs off leash will go in different directions and you will not be able to efficiently watch all of them at the same time.

Solution: Consider taking one dog at a time or ask a friend to join you so you can split up and closely monitor your dogs while they romp around.

5. Park Size:

Size does matter! Dog parks that are small and overcrowded increase the chances of more aggressive canine behavior.

Solution: Look for a park that provides several acres of running space and various terrain. This will help keep the dogs occupied so that they are less likely to bother each other.

 

6. Dog Size Separation:

Some public dog parks allow dogs of all sizes to play together in one confined pen.  This is a huge safety risk for any dog.

If you are the owner of a large dog, consider the risk and liability involved if your dog accidentally injures a smaller dog.

7. Dog Park Rules:

Most dog parks do have rules and regulations posted at the gate.  But, they usually don’t have any park staff members standing by to help reinforce them.

So, dog owners are pretty much on their own, and as you know, not everyone follows the rules.

 

8. Vaccines:

Yet again, very few public dog parks have staff checking the dogs to see if they are healthy and up to date on their vaccinations.

Bringing in a puppy with half of their vaccines is a sure way to obtain numerous parasites and deadly diseases, like parvo.

Even if your dog is fully vaccinated, there is still a risk of spreading canine influenza and kennel cough.

The dog flu and kennel cough vaccines only cover some strains of the disease.

9. Poo Parasites:

Let’s talk about Dog Poop!  Many dog owners aren’t even aware that their dog is carrying a parasite. 

Parasites like ringworm and hookworm can be found in a dog’s feces.

So, when an infected dog goes potty at the park, it can easily spread to the other dogs while playing, licking, or rolling around in the grass.

Most dog owners will pick up their dog’s waste, per the dog park rules, but there will also be folks that don’t.

10. Fleas and Ticks:

When boarding your dog at a dog kennel or doggie day care, they require your dog to have some type of flea and tick preventative – but, no one’s checking at the dog park.

Ticks and fleas can easily pass from one dog to another while playing together at the park.

Post You May Like: 10 Effective Ways To Keep Ticks Off Your Dog

skip the dog park
 

What to Look for Before Entering a Dog Park

Now, I get it.  Many folks heavily rely on dog parks to give their pups some much needed playtime and exercise. So, not going to the dog park isn’t always an option.

Before taking your pup inside those gates, take a few walks past the dog park to get a feel for the type of dogs and people that are spending time there.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are there any dogs bullying other dogs?

  • Are the dog owners watching their dogs attentively?

  • Do some dogs have personal toys that may cause conflict with the other dogs?

  • Are there a lot of intact (not neutered) male dogs?

  • Is there a separate area for the smaller dogs to play?

  • Is the fence solid and well-maintained?

  • Is there a group of dogs congregating at the main gate?

 

Warning Signs of Aggressive Behavior

While playing at the dog park, if you notice any of the following behaviors around your dog, safely remove them before anyone gets hurt.

  • Stiff Body Posture
  • Ears Pinned Back
  • Growling
  • Baring Teeth
  • Snarling
  • Bites (snipping)
  • Lunging
  • Posturing
  • Direct eye contact
  • Raised hackles

Dog Park Alternatives

Doggie Playdates: Arrange small group play dates with dogs that have compatible play styles and are fully vaccinated.

Doggie Daycare: Doggie daycares are monitored by trained professionals that will watch over your pup’s behavior and enforce the rules.

Private Dog Parks: Private Dog Parks have staff that closely monitor the dogs playing in the park and can assist with any issues that may arise.

Dog Parks that have staff on attendance also will enforce the rules of the park. Some private parks require registration sign in and issue ID tags that owners must wear while in the park.

New Training Command: Teach your dog a new training command, once per week. They love the one on one time with you and enjoy receiving yummy treats in the process.

Playtime at Home: Physical and mental exercise are both necessary for your pup to stay healthy and happy. 

Using interactive toys is a nice way to work your dog’s brain (mental exercise).  Here are some fun ways to keep your pup busy at home:

skip the dog park
 

Dog Parks May Not Work For Your Dog

Dogs do need plenty of exercise, but playtime should be a safe and fun experience for your pup.

Even the most well-trained dog can experience a set back with one bad incident at a dog park.

If you do take your pup to a dog park, be aware of your dog’s surroundings and always keep an eye on them.

Dog parks can be crowded and unpredictable, stay safe.

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