If you live in an urban area, the dog park is probably a place you frequent often to let Fido have some playtime with his furry pals. Over 45 million people own dogs and the Trust for Public Lands reported in 2016 that almost every major city has at least one dog park for our canine friends to get some exercise and socializing in. You may not get to be too choosy, but if you can, what should you look for when it comes to finding the right dog park for your puppy to play in? Check out the dog park equipment available and see if they designate areas for larger dogs and smaller dogs, who may not always play well together — or as gently as you might like. Do they have dog poop bags on hand or a dog waste station? Finding a good place for your furry best friend to romp will help take some of the stress off you and you may even meet and befriend other dog owners!
Why Are Dog Parks So Important?
Every animal — including humans! — needs to get some exercise, and it’s most important for dogs between the ages of one and a half and four years of age. Female dogs tend to be 15% more active than male dogs, so it’s important to get her out there! Dog breeders suggest the “five-minute rule,” which says that puppies should get five minutes of exercise for every month he or she is. So for example, a four-month-old pup should have at most, twenty minutes of play a day.
Not enough exercise or stimulation can make Fido a bored pup, and bored pups tend to be destructive pups. Keep your furniture and slippers safe by running off some of that energy at the dog park. Plus, if you live in a small apartment, it’s nice for your dog to be able to see some other sights and stretch his legs a bit.
Dog parks can also be great for socializing your dog and making him or her more friendly. Playing well with other dogs and humans is an important skill in a crowded city, and dogs tend to be social animals. The dog park offers him or her a chance to make new friends and practice their social skills.
They can also save their human some stress. Not feeling like taking a long walk but your dog wants to go, go, go? Consider walking to the dog park and letting him loose, while you look on (but don’t necessarily have to move). You may also meet other dog owners there regularly and make a new friend of two yourself!
What Should I Look For In Dog Park Equipment?
A good dog park will provide some dog park equipment that can help your pet with agility and general fitness, and also provide shade or shelter for hot days. They should have a waste station with dog waste bags if you’ve forgotten some (or run out). Do be conscientious and pick up your dog’s poop. Around 40% of dog owners don’t pick up their pet’s droppings, but you risk a fine in most major cities if you don’t. Also, it’s just downright impolite.
Major dog parks might even have courses as part of their dog park equipment or stations where dogs can partake in different activities or play with a variety of toys. You should make sure that the dog park has appropriate enclosures as well.
Be mindful of good dog park etiquette — keep an eye on your dog if you let him or her off the leash and be aware of what’s going on. Tempers can flare and some dogs can be bullies — yours included. You want to make sure that your pet and the other pets around you stay safe, so have a leash handy and don’t hesitate to get your dog out of a situation you don’t feel good about.
Dog parks can be a wonderful place for your dog to expend some energy, but you want to make sure it’s going to be a safe environment to return to.