Before bringing your dog to an off-leash dog park for the first time, it’s highly recommended to visit the park beforehand, without your dog, to make sure you are comfortable bringing your dog to that particular park. (i.e. it isn’t overcrowded, the other owners appear attentive, etc.)
The following is a list of “Do’s and Don’ts” to follow when bringing your dog to an off-leash dog park:
- Train your dog to come when called before allowing him or her off leash and always have a leash on hand ready to go.
- Have your dog fully vaccinated and protected against ticks and other parasites before going to the dog park.
- Train your dog to be calm before entering the park.
- Know the signs of aggression and remove your dog before the situation escalates:
- Rigid stance (freeze)
- Wide eyes
- Showing teeth
- Raised hackles
If your dog shows any signs of aggression, call him over with a basic, upbeat command. Don’t yell at your pet, as this could trigger a fight.
- Bring bags to pick up after your dog and clean up after them promptly. Parasites and viruses can be shed through fecal matter for other dogs to contract.
- Ensure your dog is properly licensed in accordance with the City of Winnipeg Responsible Pet Ownership By-Law.
- Bring a portable bowl and drinking water for your pet, as there may not be any available at the park.
- Bring treats, chews or favourite toys – this can cause a fight.
- Take your dog to the dog park if he/she is aggressive towards other dogs or people.
- Take your dog to the dog park if he/she is very anxious and nervous around other dogs and people. When dogs are scared, they can bite. As well, the dog park can become a traumatic experience for your pet.
- Allow your dog off leash in areas not designated for them. (i.e. parks that are split into areas for smaller breeds and larger breeds.)
- Bring your intact female dog to the dog park while she is in heat. In addition to avoiding unwanted litters, male dogs vying for the attention to a ready to breed female can cause a dogfight to break out.
- Should a dog fight break out, don’t grab your dog by the collar or try to get in between the dogs. Try dumping water on them if available, or use a stick to break them up.
- Let your dog get out of your eyesight. You should always be able to keep an eye on your pet.
When the proper precautions are taken, dog parks can be a safe and effective way for your dog to socialize, burn off excess energy, and most importantly, have fun!
Written by Jackie & Alyssa, RVT