Mar 18 2013

Dog Park Safety

Spring is nearly here, and pet owners and their dogs are eagerly anticipating the opportunity to spend more time outside together.  During this time of year, the dog parks tend to be busier than at any other time of year.  Lethbridge residents are lucky to have three large off-leash dog parks at our disposal – the Scenic Drive Dog Park, Popson Park, and Peenaquim Dog Park.  At Green Acres Animal Hospital, we encourage all of our pet owners to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and exercise with their pets.  However, we would like to impart a few guidelines to help make the dog parks safer for everyone. 

Because of disease concerns, we recommend that use of our off-leash dog parks be limited to healthy, fully-vaccinated dogs.  Puppies that have not received their full set of vaccinations should wait until they are completed.  We do not recommend taking your dog to the off-leash park if he or she is extremely old, chronically ill or painful, or otherwise immune-compromised.  If you have an intact female dog, especially if she is in heat, an unwanted pregnancy is a possibility.    

Before going to the park, you should be confident that your dog is friendly with other dogs and with people.  This is not a place for dogs that act out in fear or aggression with new environments, new people, or strange dogs.  If you are at all nervous about your dog, keeping it on a leash is NOT an appropriate solution at an off-leash park – this can make a nervous dog feel more trapped, when surrounded by “free” dogs. 

It is equally important to ensure that your dog has a very solid recall before heading off to an off-leash park – by this I mean that if you call, they will come, no matter what.  This is important both to ensure that your dog doesn’t run away, and also so that you can both make a smooth exit from a potentially unsafe situation.    

Watch your dog at all times, and if you see a problem developing, it’s generally best to take your dog home.  Finally, it’s important that all dog park users remember to scoop the poop.  Our local parks provide both bags for collection and bins for disposal, so there is no excuse for failing to do so! 

One of the best aspects of dog ownership is the incentive to get outside and get active with your pet and with others who love dogs as much as you do – and the dog park is a great place to do so.  We hope to see you there soon.

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