3 Reasons To Avoid Dog Parks (and 3 Things You Can Do Instead)
Dog parks can be very tempting for many dog owners--and understandably so. What’s not to love about an environment created for dogs to run free and play? The problem is, dog parks aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. In fact, there are some legitimate reasons to avoid them. Here we’ll discuss what a few of those reasons are and what alternatives you can try instead.
3 Reasons to Avoid Dog Parks
Reason #1: Untrained and/or Aggressive Dogs
One main problem with going to dog parks is that there’s no way to know the temperaments of the other dogs. Just because your fur baby is friendly and well-trained, doesn’t guarantee the other four-leggers are. Unleashing a group of dogs within the same environment poses a variety of problems, including dogfights, which are a common concern among pet owners.
Reason #2: Oblivious or Irresponsible Owners
Unfortunately, not all owners pay close enough attention to their dog while visiting the dog park. When this happens, dogs often use that time as an opportunity to misbehave. Again, this can lead to some unpleasant altercations between dogs that could have possibly been avoided.
Even when owners are being attentive, it doesn’t mean that they know how to read basic dog behavior. Not understanding what signals to look for, can quickly turn an enjoyable trip to the dog park into a stressful, or even dangerous one.
Finally, problems sometimes arise simply because owners just aren’t in control of their dogs. Owners like this often think that roughhousing is “cute” and that the dogs can work it out on their own. This is obviously not proper dog socialization, which can be learned with proper training.
Reason #3: Health Concerns
Bringing your pooch to the dog park could expose him to other pets that may not be in good health. Sharing drinking water or coming in contact with another dog’s fecal matter can cause things such as kennel cough, canine influenza, giardia, fleas, and other parasites to spread easily. Furthermore, not all animals may be up-to-date on their necessary vaccinations. Since there is no easy way to know which animals are safe for your dog to mingle with, it may be best to avoid the dog park altogether.
3 Safer Dog Park Alternatives
Socializing and getting enough exercise are both very important for a dog. Fortunately, dog parks aren’t your only option. Here are 3 alternatives that can let your dog burn off some energy and make new friends.
Alternative #1: Take More Walks Together
Going for a walk with your dog is a great way for you to unwind from work after a long day. It’s important to remember, however, that it’s your dog’s nature to smell and explore everything in sight. This is why it’s always a good idea to use a leash. While being on a leash may feel unnatural to your pup, it’s a necessary part of keeping him/her under control. The more you two walk, the better accustomed she’ll become, resulting in an enjoyable time for both of you.
Alternative #2: Enroll Your Pup in a Doggy Daycare
During the day, many dogs lack stimulation and sufficient outlets for their energy. This is why many owners are taking advantage of doggy daycare. Doggy daycare can offer a multitude of benefits including exercise, socialization, human contact, supervised playtime by trained experts, and a relief from boredom. In addition to being fun for the dog, it can give peace of mind to busy owners or owners who aren’t able to be active, knowing that their fur baby is getting the activity they need to stay happy and healthy.
Alternative #3: Set up a Doggy Playdate
Have close friends who also have dogs? If so, consider getting together for a doggy playdate. Not only do you get to socialize, so does your dog. Doing something like this, with people you trust, allows you to be in better control of your dog’s social environment. If this isn’t an option, simply carve more time out of your day to play with your pup one-on-one.