Make sure your dog has their rabies vaccination and that it is up to date. Most dog parks require this and you won’t be able to walk your dog there without it. Keep the updated rabies tag on your dog’s collar.
If for some reason your dog bites a human or another dog you will have to prove that your dog has an up-to-date vaccination. Otherwise it will be taken away and put in observation.
Make sure you pick a dog park that is suitable for you and your dog. If you are interested in an off-leash park, it should have the following:
- Posted rules of conduct, a double-gated entry
- Water for your dog, hopefully water fountains for your dog to drink
- A sheltered area to get away from bad weather
- Centrally located, well-stocked poop-bag dispensers and trash can
- One area for the little guys and one for the bigger dogs.
Make sure your dog knows how to consistently respond to your basic commands demanding him to stay, come, sit, and leave it. This will help you control him in a situation that might be dangerous.
Bring necessary supplies with you, including:
- Poop bags
- Fresh water
- An air horn or animal spray to break up a fight
- Deterrent spray or an air-horn
- Cell phone in case there is an emergency
If for some reason there are not separate areas for little dog and big ones, make sure you are extremely careful of bigger ones with the little ones. Make sure if your dog is a larger one that it behaves properly around the little ones.
Do not allow it to scare or intimidate the smaller ones. If, on the other hand you have a smaller one, make sure you know how to recognize the large aggressive dogs.
It may be a good idea to find another park that has separate areas, or find a time that only smaller dogs are at the park.
Yes, even small doges can be aggressive dogs, but your dog has a better chance of surviving if it gets in a fight with a dog its own size.
Make sure you understand the difference between play and aggression in dogs. A dog that is showing aggression usually is hyper-focused, a closed mouth, has a stiff stance and raised hackles, whereas a playful dog bounces around, wags its tail, and generally looks relaxed both in posture and facial expression.