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Dog Park Behavior and Etiquette Tips

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To Go or Not to Go continued...

Dog Park Downsides

Despite the many benefits dog parks provide, it’s important to be aware of the risks before you decide to become a dog-park devotee:

  • Health risks Healthy, vaccinated dogs are at low risk of becoming ill as a result of visiting the dog park. There are health risks any time your dog interacts with other dogs, just as there are for us when we interact with other people. Talk to your veterinarian about the risks and whether she recommends vaccinating for Bordatella (“kennel cough”) if you become a regular park user. Fleas are everywhere-including on squirrels, rabbits and raccoons-so the key to flea control is providing adequate protection on your pet. Your dog could get injured in a fight or during overly rambunctious play. It’s highly unlikely, but small dogs could even be killed at a dog park because larger dogs sometimes perceive smaller dogs as prey.
  • Dog problems For some dogs, especially those who are naturally shy or easily overwhelmed, a visit to the dog park can be stressful. If your dog has unpleasant experiences with other dogs-if they bully or fight with her, intimidate her or just play too roughly-she might decide she doesn’t like them at all! She could start growling, barking, snarling, snapping and lunging to drive other dogs away, and even biting if they approach.
  • People problems Everyone has a different perspective, and some people have strong opinions about dog behavior. Pet parents don’t always agree about what’s normal dog behavior, what’s acceptable during play, what kind of behavior is truly aggressive, which dog behaviors are obnoxious, whether or not one dog is bullying another or who’s at fault in an altercation. People might argue about how to respond when problems between dogs arise. Since there’s rarely an authority figure to appeal to at a dog park, disagreements can get heated and result in human behavior problems!

Is the Dog Park Right for You and Your Dog?

Many people feel that the benefits of dog parks outweigh their risks. Others decide that they’re not comfortable going to dog parks. To make the best decision for you and your dog, consider the pros and cons above, read the guidelines below, and visit local dog parks without your dog just to watch and learn more.

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