Off-leash dog parks can be super fun and friendly for you and your dog. You get to meet other dog owners and share tips and stories, and your fur baby gets to run around and play with other dogs.
Free running is a brilliant way for your dog to burn off their energy, which also can cut down any boredom-related behaviours they're displaying at home (e.g. chewing or ripping up furniture, digging holes etc.).
If you have a puppy, dog parks are a great way to teach them socialisation skills. I recommend that you keep them on a leash as you train them to socialise and return to you on command. The last thing you want is for your little puppy to run off and become scared or overwhelmed.
To avoid the risk of catching canine diseases, you should also ensure your puppy is fully vaccinated or that your older dog is up to date with their immunisations.
If you've never visited a dog park, there are a few things you need to be aware of.
Is my dog suitable to take to an off-leash dog park?
Although you may think it's fun to visit an off-leash dog park and let your dog run free, you need to consider if your dog is suitable.
Safety for your dog, other dogs and pet owners is paramount when you're at a dog park. Dog parks aren't patrolled by trained staff, so it's your responsibility to be in control of your dog.
To start, your dog should have basic training. They will need to know the 'Come' command or return to you when you call their name. If your dog doesn't return when called, they are unsuitable for an off-leash dog park. Some dog parks may have a fenced-off area which may be more suitable to allow them to run free in a controlled area.
You'll also need to be confident that your dog isn't aggressive or scared around other dogs.
There will be lots of excited dogs of all sizes and breeds running around that will approach your dog with tumble play, sniffing, chasing, barking or mounting. Your dog needs to be prepared for this and not act aggressively in return.
A few important reminders:
Make sure your dog is vaccinated and has its parasite medication up to date
Your dog should be desexed to prevent males from chasing females on heat and any unwanted mating
If it's a warmer day, keep a look out for warning signs of sunstroke, don't visit during the hottest part of the day, and take plenty of water
Constant supervision is a must for the safety of all
Top 4 tips for creating an enjoyable off-leash dog park experience
Here are some handy tips to consider to ensure you and your dog enjoy spending time at an off-leash dog park.
Keep your dog on its lead to begin
Please keep your dog on its lead until you enter the dog park gates. Do the same when you're leaving so your dog learns the signs when it's time to go. Keeping them on a lead at the start also helps you to assess the park and the other dogs before you let your dog run free.
Move around the dog park
When the same dogs play together for an extended time, one may get tired of playing, and you'll end up with a grumpy dog who may lash out. Keep moving around the park (using your recall command), so your dog can explore the park and meet new friends as they go.
Monitor situations and know when it's time to leave
A huge part of visiting a dog park is knowing your dog and keeping an eye out. Generally, if a large group of dogs have gathered, it's not the best situation to have your dog in, as aggressive behaviour can result. Dogs may also have pent-up energy, and conflict may occur when there's a large group in a small area. So, if your dog shows signs of stress, it's time to leave.
Clean up after your dog
No one likes stepping in dog poo! A common courtesy for all dog parks (and when walking in general) is to clean up after your dog. Most dog parks will have disposal bins, so you must bag and bin your dog's waste. Leaving your dog's waste can contaminate the environment and spread infectious diseases to dogs and humans.
Need a hand walking your dog during the day?
As your local Glen Iris pet minder and dog walker, I'm available to walk your dog during the day. I am accredited and fully insured, so you can rest assured that your beloved pooch is in good hands.
If you'd like more advice on taking your dog to a dog park, please feel free to get in touch.
I will be away from the 23rd of October to the 13th of November 2022, and the Christmas/New Year period is fully booked out. I can take bookings around these times and from Australia day in 2023.
Here's a reminder of my services.
If you've had any experiences with visiting a dog park, I'd love for you to comment below.
Until next time, pat your fur babies for me.