Risks and Benefits of Dog Parks

It’s a nice and warm spring day. The sun is shining, the birds are singing their lovely songs, and you are thinking of fun activities for you and your dog to do. You could go on a walk, but you’ve already done that today. Well, how about go to the park? The dog park, that is. Today, I want to talk about the dog park. As most things, the dog park has both risks and benefits. So, let’s get those risks out of the way. Why shouldn’t you take your dog to a dog park?

First of all, not all dogs belong at a dog park. Some dogs become stressed if they are not used to playing with other dogs or having dogs come up to them wanting to play. Fights can break out at dog parks if either a dog is afraid or feels threatened by another one who is just trying to play with him. With these fights, injury can occur. Because a dog park is a place for dogs to play off leash, a dog who does not have good recall and does not come to you when you call him should not be at a dog park. Also, in some states, the dog flu is going around and is spread by dogs being in contact with one another. Evidently, it is contagious just like the human flu. However, even though there are several risks to dog parks, a dog park can actually have benefits.

The dog park is a place for an owner and a dog to play fetch with a Frisbee or tennis ball or for dogs to run around and chase one another. This exercise is very beneficial not only for you as a dog owner but also for your dog. I know that, for guide dogs, work can stress them out, so playing with other dogs can decrease stress. I personally have never taken my dog to a dog park before, but I will explain more about that a little later in this post. This time in a dog park can be very fun for both you and your dog, increasing your bond. Along with that, dogs have time to socialize, and other dog owners can socialize with each other, perhaps making new friends.

So, now that we’ve talked about the risks and benefits of dog parks, let’s talk about how you should decide if a dog park is right for you and your furry friend. There are a few deciding factors. First of all, as I promised earlier, I’m going to talk about why I have never taken either of my dogs to a dog park. Seeing Eye recommends we keep our guide dogs away from dog parks. They do not believe a dog park is a good environment for guide dogs because there are those occasional doggy disagreements. A guide dog getting injured would be detrimental to a working team. However, it is my personal belief that this can easily be avoided. So, here are some things to help a dog have a fun time at a dog park. Any dog who goes to a dog park should be well-socialized and okay with both dogs and people. If you have a dog that loves other dogs, I’m sure he or she will absolutely love the dog park. However, those dogs that become easily stressed out by being surrounded by other dogs would not do well in this type of environment and should stay away for the safety of all dogs and people. Lastly, simply use common sense. If you know your dog could benefit from his time in the dog park, definitely consider it. But, if you know your dog would not be okay with it, it is not a good idea to even attempt it. A dog park is not a place to teach a dog socialization as socialization with people and other dogs should have taken place when the dog was a puppy. The dog park is for those dogs who are already socialized and well-mannered around other dogs. Also, if you decide to take your dog to a dog park, always monitor your dog. Is he getting along with others? What is his body language telling you? Is he acting nervous? All of this should be taken into consideration.

I know that Joba would love to go to the dog park. He wouldn’t be able to leave the other dogs alone. Or, maybe it’s that I would love to go to the dog park. I think he would be okay, but because I like to follow the rules, I have never taken him there because Seeing Eye said it’s not a good idea. So, to be on the safe side, perhaps I’ll just find particular dogs who can be Joba’s playmates. I want to conclude by saying that, if your dog is not a dog park dog, that’s okay. Not all dogs enjoy that environment. They are just like some people who do not enjoy large crowds. It just means that your dog finds other ways to entertain him or herself. So, on that warm spring day, considering all of the risks and benefits and deciding what is best for your companion, perhaps you will consider a dog park.

Additional Resources:

http://yourdogsfriend.org/life-with-dogs/should-i-take-my-dog-to-the-dog-park/

https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/dog-parks

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/canine/

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