Dogs are social creatures, like many of us. It makes sense to want to take them places they can socialize with other canines. Dog parks are just one of the common places we can take our furry friends to romp with other dogs.
However, dog parks have disadvantages, and it’s essential to be prepared when planning a trip. Let’s take a look at what you should know about dog park safety and how dog daycare can be an invaluable alternative.
The Risks of Dog Parks
No matter where you take your dog to socialize with other animals, there are always associated risks. If you are considering heading to your local dog park, it’s important to understand what you could be up against.
Having your dog in a dog park means placing a lot of trust in the hands of strangers. While we’d hope that all dog owners would be as responsible as us, the fact of the matter is that’s just not true.
Some irresponsible owner takes their dogs to dog parks simply to let them off-leash unattended — even if they’re aware of aggression or health issues. When owners fail to watch their dogs, you could encounter serious problems, like fights or inappropriate behaviors.
Dog parks typically do not have separate play enclosures for large and small dogs. If they do, there’s always the risk an owner will disregard the park’s rules.
“From minor scuffles to serious incidents, injuries are common at dog parks,” says a New York Times report on the dangers of dog parks from 2020. “Bite wounds are common, even from rough play.”
Many injuries among dogs involve tearing under the skin from bites, which can be complicated to heal.
Even clean dog parks carry the risk of health risks like communicable diseases.
For example, the American Animal Hospital Associate advises owners who take their pets to dog parks to vaccinate them with the Bordetella vaccine as well as distemper. The Bordetella vaccine prevents kennel cough.
Having your dog vaccinated against leptospirosis is also recommended, which your dog could be at risk for when drinking from public water bowls, fountains, and puddles.
Unfortunately, there is no way to verify that the other dogs at a dog park are vaccinated.
Dog Park Safety Tips
While there’s no foolproof way to prevent accidents and incidents at dog parks, there are steps you can take to mitigate the risks.
- Know the Dog Park Rules. Most dog parks post a list of rules at their entrance. You’ll learn when they are open, their leash rules, and additional requirements that vary from park to park.
- Vaccinate Your Dog. For your dog’s safety in and out of dog parks, it is crucial to ensure they are vaccinated by a veterinarian with any required shots. Depending on where you live and your dog’s activities, there may be optional vaccines to consider, as well.
- Bring Supplies. Think of a dog park as a mini vacation for your dog. You should have food or treats, water, their leash and collar or vest with tags, and waste bags. The setup of the park should inform you whether to bring toys. If the park is an open, off-leash location, it may be best to leave the tennis ball at home.
- Be Vigilant. Keep an eye on your surroundings and your dog the entire time you’re at the park. It only takes a moment for something to go wrong.
- Limit Your Stay. Limit your trip to the dog park to 30 to 60 minutes. Any longer, and the chances of your dog becoming overstimulated increase.
Dog Park Alternatives: The Benefits of Dog Daycare
Dog daycare is one of the best alternatives to dog parks. Before you sign up, preview the environment to see how the employees treat the dogs and get an idea of the cleanliness of the facility as well as how the needs of the animals are met.
In addition to taking advantage of the safe socialization aspect that a dog park might not provide, you can also use doggy daycare when you cannot be with your dog, like during work or if you’re traveling for a day trip.
Additional doggie daycare benefits include pet screenings, constant supervision, vaccination requirements, and the opportunity for healthy play.
When you enroll your dog in daycare, you will need to fill out the paperwork with basic information like name, age, weight, and breed. There will also be more in-depth sections on their health history, behavior history, and temperament issues.
Daycare facilities for dogs screen dogs before accepting them into their program to ensure a given animal is not a risk to the other animals and people at the facility. Depending on the circumstances, a dog not suited for traditional daycare may be offered restricted activities or denied entry altogether.
Unlike a dog park, doggie daycares feature constant, professional supervision. A quality daycare facility will have a low staff-to-dog ratio, so you won’t have to worry about staff being unable to monitor all activity or special attention to your dog if needed.
Many dog daycares also group attendees by size, temperament, and age to reduce the risk of aggression or accidents.
Professional dog daycare businesses will require owners to provide thorough and current documentation of their dogs’ medical and vaccination records. If a dog does not have the proper vaccines, it will not be accepted into the program. This way, you won’t have to worry about commonly spread illnesses.
Healthy Stimulation and Socialization
Many dogs were bred to have jobs, like hunting and herding. While many of our pets still have these instincts, our way of life doesn’t provide many opportunities for them to lean into those instincts and get health stimulation and exercise.
Some doggie daycare facilities offer training programs and other activities to ensure your pet receives the physical and mental exercise they need to be as healthy as possible.
Doggie Daycare at Greenlin Pet Resorts
Join doggie daycare at Greenlin Pet Resorts and worry less about your dog’s safety. With over four acres of outdoor natural and artificial turf and climate-controlled indoor play space, our doggie daycare program is a fun, safe place for dogs to play with other canine friends while staying safe. Contact us today to learn about enrollment.