The California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) has released safety tips detailing how to keep your pet safe when visiting your local dog park. According to the CVMA, high on your list of priorities should be protecting your dog against disease and parasites by making sure your dog’s vaccinations are current, and taking some simple precautions to prevent cross-infection. For example, they suggest bringing your own water for your dog so as to avoid using water stations that might be a source of disease, and cleaning your dog’s paws when you leave the park to minimize the risk of parasites or diseases from the soil.
"Dog parks are fun places to exercise and socialize your dog," says CVMA president Dean Henricks, DVM. "However, they can also harbor health risks. It’s important for dog owners to take a few precautions."
From a behavioral point of view, Henricks recommends making sure your dog is socialized to other dogs and people before sampling the dog park experience. You should also always keep an eye on your dog to prevent fights, and always follow the dog park rules for licensing requirements, leash laws and minimum-age requirements for children. Above all, you need to remember that you are legally responsible for your dog. Owners of small dogs should also try to use any seperate areas specifically for smaller breeds. Henricks says that untrained larger dogs may perceive them as prey or engage in rough play.
"The dog park experience isn’t right for every dog," cautions Dr. Henricks. "But if your pet loves them so doggone much, by following the CVMA’s tips, you should have a fun and safe visit."