5 Reasons to Reconsider Dog Parks

Many dog owners take their dogs to dog parks without knowing the risks. Here are the top dog park safety concerns to consider.

Jul 7, 2024byLilianna Parker

reasons to reconsider dog parks

Most veterinary and dog training professionals agree that dog parks are not all that they’re cracked up to be. While some dogs can enjoy a fun day at the dog park unscathed, others can become severely sick or injured. This is mainly because dog parks are an uncontrolled environment, meaning there are many things out of owners’ hands.

While dog parks are a great way to bond with your pet and burn energy, there are some risks. Here’s what to know.

1. Dog Parks Have Germs

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Image from Unsplash

Dog parks are not clean. Mainly, dog parks are full of dog urine and feces, which can be a hazard to your dog. This is particularly the case if a sick dog is in the park. This is because many common health conditions, such as internal parasites, are often passed to dogs through infected feces.

Dogs do not even need to eat these feces to get sick. Just smelling the infected excrement (or eating poop) could potentially lead to infection. In an ideal world, every dog owner will clean up after their pet. Yet, this is hardly the case. When going to the dog park, it is essential to remain vigilant of any dog feces, as it could harbor disease.

This is mostly a hazard for dogs that are young puppies or immuno-suppressed, as most adult dogs have been fully vaccinated and have developed immune systems that can fight off the most common illnesses. However, young puppies and dogs with medical conditions do not have this luxury. Owners of young puppies and dogs with immune suppression should steer clear of dog parks.

2. Dog Parks Are Uncontrolled Environments

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It is also important to mention that dog parks are a classic example of an uncontrolled environment. This means that it is often difficult to stop your dog from doing something that could harm them. Good examples of this are digging through the trash and attempting to escape the park.

A way to get around this problem is through thorough basic obedience training. A well-trained dog is much easier to manage than an untrained one. Some commands that can help your dog stay safe at the park include:

  • “Leave it”
  • “Drop it”
  • “Come here”
  • “Sit”
  • “Stay”
  • “Lie down”

Now, it is important to remember that even if your dog is well-trained, other dogs may not be. This can become a hazard to your dog as well.

3. Dog Fights Can Happen

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Image from Pexels

Sadly, fights between dogs can easily occur in dog parks. While dog fights in such parks are not reported as often as one would think, they are still a possibility. Dog fights in off-leash dog parks are also a high concern among veterinarians, animal behaviorists, and city planners.

If your dog shows signs of being aggressive or reactive toward other dogs, then you shouldn’t take them to the dog park. Even if your dog has not shown signs of aggression in the past, it is crucial to always keep a close eye on them. This is because other dogs may become aggressive toward your dog, and your dog may retaliate.

4. Large Dogs Can Threaten Small Dogs

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Image from Pexels

When it comes to having dogs socialize off-leash, large dogs can pose a threat to very small dogs. This is true, even when the large dog is not aggressive. Most dogs, such as Australian Shepherds, have a prey drive. This is the drive that gives dogs the urge to chase animals like squirrels and rabbits. Unfortunately, this could lead to a large dog chasing after a small dog, and potentially harming them.

To prevent this problem from occurring, most off-leash dog parks have separate sections for large and small dogs. However, there may be some times when park patrons do not adhere to these rules. If you have a small dog, sticking to their weight section will help keep your dog safe. It is also a good idea to leave the park if a large dog enters the small dog section.

5. Not Everyone Follows Park Rules

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Image from Unsplash

Large dogs in the small dog section of the dog park is not the only park rule often broken, though. While some dog owners may view park rules as a nuisance, they are mainly designed to keep dogs and humans visiting the park safe. Here are some further examples of dog park rules that are designed for safety.

  • Gates should be kept closed except for exiting and entering the park.
  • Clean up after your dog.
  • No food, bones, or toys are allowed in the park.
  • Dogs must be attended to at all times.
  • Children should always be supervised.
  • Aggressive dogs should be removed immediately.

Even though these rules are designed for safety, this does not mean that they will always be followed by other park guests. This could potentially put your dog in unnecessary danger. It is also yet another reason why you should think twice about taking your dog to an off-leash park.

Lilianna Parker
byLilianna Parker

Lilianna is an animal lover and certified dog trainer through the Animal Behavior College. With over three years of experience training dogs and writing about animals, Lilianna is as passionate as she is knowledgeable. When not hard at work, she spends time hiking and going on adventures with her Shiba Inu Cleo.