The thing my seven month old husky Echo loves more than anything is to play with other dogs. Nothing gets him more excited than meeting and playing with new friends. Dog Parks seem like they would be the perfect version of shangri-la for my puppy. He can run and play freely with newfound buddies in his own domain. He can learn how to socialize and get along with other canines. He gets exercise, mental stimulation, and burns off energy. And as a dog owner, I can socialize as well and meet other dog lovers.
What's not to love about the Dog Park, right?
Well, as awesome as dog parks are, and we have some pretty incredible ones here in Colorado, there are also some risks that we all need to be aware of when we're there with man's best friend.
While I think we all have a sense of responsibility with our dogs, we can't always count on others to think the same way. Many people at dog parks simply let their dog off the leash and stop paying attention. Potential for dog on dog violence is very real at a dog park. Dogs get excited and frequently get overstimulated when around so many other dogs, and their behavior can frequently go over the top of what is acceptable. If owners are not keeping a close eye on their dog, playing can quickly turn to violence, especially large dogs on smaller dogs, or older dogs on puppies.
Another thing to remember is to never bring your dog toys to the dog park. It's a recipe for trouble with other dogs. Many dogs that see that toy are going to try to make it their own, and nothing good normally comes from that.
When you have dogs convening, defecating, and urinating in a confined space like a dog park, along with the sharing of drinking sources, it means getting diseases and parasites is a very real risk. Humans can have the potential for getting parasites as well if they're not careful and clean when at the park. Puppies should definitely stay out of the dog park until they've had all their shots and vaccinations, and even then, they'll do much better if you wait until they're fully grown. Paying attention to your canine, bringing your own dog bowl, as well as cleaning up after them and keeping them as clean as possible after going to the park, can help minimize disease and parasite risk at the dog park... but there still are always risks.
I love the dog park, and so does my puppy Echo, but we all need to be aware of the risks, and make sure we do everything we can to keep our dogs safe and healthy while they're having all that fun!