Dog parks are an excellent place for your four-footed friend to socialize and get some exercise. But dogs can catch diseases and even get injured when they meet other dogs, so you need to take a few precautions to keep your dog safe. Follow these safety tips to ensure that you both have fun and stay safe when you visit your local dog park. 

How to Keep Your Dog Safe at the Dog Park: Seven Essential Tips

1: Keep Up with Vaccinations and Parasite Prevention

Diseases like parvovirus are highly contagious, making dog parks extremely dangerous for unvaccinated dogs. Plus, the rabies vaccine is required for dogs under Arizona law. 

Puppies should be vaccinated when they are twelve to sixteen weeks old, and adult dogs need booster shots every one to three years. If your dog isn’t up to date on their vaccinations, you should avoid going to the dog park. 

External parasites such as fleas and ticks can also run rampant at dog parks, so it’s important to keep up with preventative medications as well. 

2: Teach Your Dog to Obey Basic Commands

Before you take your dog anywhere to socialize, you need to train them to respond to basic obedience commands. Don’t start visiting dog parks until your dog has mastered “sit,” “stay,” and “come.” 

Knowing these basic commands will make it much easier to get your dog’s attention or to get them out of a dangerous situation at the dog park. Remember—angrily shouting commands can trigger other dogs that are more aggressive, so you should always speak firmly and calmly. 

3: Research the Park Ahead of Time

Before you visit a new dog park, it’s a good idea to make sure the size of the park is a good fit and that you understand the rules. For example, many dog parks have rules about vaccine requirements, collars, leashes, toys, etc. You can typically find the rules on the park’s website. 

You should also consider your dog’s size before you select a park. If you have a small dog, being surrounded by larger dogs could be overwhelming. Look for parks with separate areas for exercising small and large dogs. 

4: Watch Out for Overcrowding

Too many dogs in a dog park is a recipe for disaster. If the park is already packed when you arrive, or starts getting crowded while you’re there, it’s best to leave. Dog parks are typically less busy on weekdays in the early morning, in the middle of the day, and late in the evening.

5: Bring the Essentials

Knowing what to bring to the dog park can also help your dog’s safety. Make sure to pack the following items each time you go:

  • Collar with ID tag (required at many dog parks)
  • Harness and leash—even at an off-leash park, you need a leash to remove your dog from a dangerous situation if necessary
  • Fresh water and a water bowl so your dog stays hydrated—communal water bowls at the park can harbor diseases
  • Treats to reward your dog for good behavior
  • Poop bags—always clean up after your dog!

6: Monitor Your Dog’s Behavior

It can be tempting to scroll through your phone while your dog plays, but you need to keep a close eye on them. Engaging in rough play like chasing can make some dogs uncomfortable. Watch for signs of aggression such as staring, crouching, and tense body language in your dog as well as the other dogs. Remove your dog if you notice any aggressive behaviors, and you’ll keep everyone safe and happy.  

7: Avoid Going When Your Dog Is Sick

Just like humans, it’s best for dogs to stay home when they’re sick to prevent spreading the illness around. If your dog has symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, nasal discharge, or frequent sneezing, take them to the vet instead. 

Dog Veterinarian in Gilbert, Arizona

If your dog is due for vaccinations or a wellness exam, contact Anasazi Animal Clinic. We can evaluate your dog’s health and let you know if they are ready to visit the dog park, or if they need any vaccinations. 

We also offer emergency veterinary services, should anything unexpected happen at the dog park. Give us a call at 480-497-0505 to schedule an appointment or notify us of your pet’s emergency. 


Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (6/6/2023). Photo by Mathew Smith on Unsplash