Dog parks provide several perks to dogs and pet parents alike including physical and mental exercise for your pet, good socialization opportunities to help maintain your dog’s good natured temperament, and fun for pet parents through socialization with other like-minded pet owners.

But with these valuable benefits, also come several worries. Dog parks can pose health risks and safety concerns, so it’s important to be as prepared as possible for your next visit.

1. Make sure your dog is vaccinated.

Puppies younger than four months old shouldn’t be brought to the dog park since they have not been fully immunized and can be susceptible to catching diseases from other dogs.

It’s also important that adult dogs are up-to-date on their vaccinationsfor their protection as well as the protection of other dogs at the park. The following vaccinations are critical for your pet’s safety when exposed to other dogs: distemper, parvo, adenovirus, and rabies.

2. Watch out for aggressive dogs.

Before walking into the park, take a look at the other dogs and watch for signs of aggressive behavior. While playfulness can sometimes be mistaken for aggression, look for the following warning signs:

  • Growling or snarling
  • Showing teeth
  • Snapping
  • Nipping at other dogs
  • Biting or shaking other dogs

Unfortunately, fights and bites are common at dog parks, so if one occurs, bring your dog to your veterinarian immediately.

3. Have your cellphone and contact information on hand.

In case of an emergency, make sure to have your cell phone readily available, along with contact information for your veterinarian.

4. Keep your dog hydrated and be mindful of the temperature outside.

Provide clean water to your dog while at the park and make sure it’s accessible to him during your length of stay. Dehydration can occur from increased activity even during mild temperatures.

5. Keep an eye on your dog at all times.

Make sure your dog has his collar and proper ID tags, and that you keep your eye on him at all times. It’s also wise to separate small dogs from large dogs, so select the side of the park that is most appropriate for your pet.

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