7 Tips For Dog Park Safety

Are dog parks safe for you and your dog? Dog parks are growing in popularity and safety concerns are also on the rise. While many dogs may enjoy dog parks without incident, all it takes is one injury or illness to cause serious problems for a dog and his owners.

Problems with dog parks more often lay with uneducated or negligent dog owners, not the dogs themselves. Dogs brought to local parks may not be properly socialized or adequately trained, yet some dog owners will bring these dogs into this largely unknown and uncontrolled social situation.

Even if your dog is trained and socialized, with an outstanding temperament, someone else’s dog might not be. Dog parks also increase your dog’s risk of contracting illness or disease.

If your dog has physical characteristics commonly identified as “pit bull” then he is at far greater risk of stereotyping and discrimination should a fight break out at the dog park- regardless whether your dog behaved aggressively.

As the responsible parent to two “pit bulls” I choose not to take my dogs to area dog parks for their own safety. I choose not to risk my dog’s very lives by putting them in situations where they might be profiled and persecuted. If another dog were to attack I believe my dogs would fight back and that’s exactly the situation I want to avoid. More often than not, the “pit bull” takes the blame. (Along with titillating and divisive media coverage, no doubt!)

No matter what type of dog you own, please use caution when it comes to taking your dog to the dog park.

Fort Collins Dog Parks

The city of Fort Collins maintains three dog parks in the city:

Spring Canyon Dog Park, also called Horsetooth Dog Park
2626 W. Horsetooth Road

Soft Gold Dog Park
520 Hickory Street

Fossil Creek Dog Park
5821 S. Lemay

In addition to parks maintained by the city, there are a few other dog parks around town:

Front Range Village Dog Park
2843 Council Tree Avenue

CSU Dog Park
Mathews Street and East Lake Street

If you choose to take advantage of the dog parks in Fort Collins, here are some tips to help keep you and your dogs safe.

Spring Canyon Dog Park

Spring Canyon Dog Park

7 Dog Park Safety Tips

01. Be prepared to leave

It’s a good idea to keep an eye not only on your dog, but other dogs at the dog park. Pay attention to your and your dog’s surroundings the entirety of your stay. Leave immediately if you see signs of a fearful, anxious, or aggressive dog at the park.

02. Go during off-peak hours

Taking your dog to the park during off-peak hours can reduce chances of a fight. The more dogs at the park, the more likely a scuffle will break out. At the very least it’s easier to keep an eye on the situation with fewer dogs in the park.

03. Practice recall

Practice recall exercises away from the dog park and recall your dog in risky situations. Don’t wait for a fight to break out to intervene. Watch for signs your dog or other dogs are escalating, and recall your dog at the first sign of trouble.

04. Stay up-to-date on vaccinations

In the past week four cases of rabies have been confirmed by Larimer County Department of Health and Environment. Protect your dogs by making sure they are up-to-date on all vaccinations.

05. Leave toys at home

Many dogs are perfectly sociable until a toy is introduced to the situation, therefore a good rule of thumb is to leave toys at home.

06. Leave treats at home

Like toys, dogs may get into a fight over treats. Additionally, some dogs have food allergies that can cause sickness when exposed to the wrong type of treat.

07. Don’t bring children

For your child’s safety, please don’t bring children inside the dog park. Playful and rowdy dogs could knock your child down. Worse yet, your child could approach a strange dog in an unsafe manner and get bitten.

If you see children at the dog park it may be the right time to take your dog and go home. No matter how safe you think your dog is with kids, recognize that children can be just as unpredictable as dogs, and kids may behave in a way that is threatening to your dog.

Let’s chat: Do you use Fort Collins dog parks? What other tips do you have to share for dog park safety?

Image courtesy of Sit Stay.

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