To some busy pet parents, dog parks may seem like heaven on earth. After all, your pup can quickly burn off energy and make new canine friends all at the same time. However, most pet parents don’t know that these seemingly innocent play areas actually hold a host of hidden dangers. Here are three potential hazards of dog parks that you should be wary of as a pet owner.
#1: Intestinal parasites can run rampant in dog parks
While a dog park pass for your pet typically requires proof of current vaccinations, proof of a negative fecal exam and year-round parasite prevention is rarely needed. Yet, despite those owners who immediately whip out a doggy bag and clean up after their pet, some intestinal parasite eggs can still be shed into the environment. And, unfortunately, not all owners clean up after their dogs. As a result, your dog—or you—can easily pick up a roundworm infection through contact with the infective feces and accidental ingestion. Keeping your dog on year-round parasite prevention will help purge any stray parasites they may pick up, although not all parasites can be prevented.
#2: Canine interactions are not supervised by professionals at dog parks
One of the most common myths regarding dog behavior is that a wagging tail signals a friendly, happy dog. However, that depends on the carriage of the tail and the speed and motion of the wag. A dog on high alert may wag their tail in short, stiff strokes before going on the offensive or defensive, which can result in an altercation if you’re unfamiliar with other body language cues that indicate a potential problem.
In dog parks, only dog owners oversee their pet’s interactions, whereas doggy daycare facilities are staffed with highly trained professionals who can spot warning signs of problem behaviors. They will also determine a dog’s play style and place your dog with the appropriate group to minimize issues.
#3: One bad experience can permanently damage your dog’s mental health
Many people believe dog parks are an excellent way to socialize their puppies and introduce them to other dogs and people, but a large pack of overexcited, lunging canines can scar a puppy for life, especially if they are injured. Positive socialization experiences are best performed with one-on-one introductions in a calm, quiet setting rather than the frenzy of a dog park.
We highly recommend reconsidering taking your pup to the dog park considering the risks your pup and yourself may be exposed to. If you’re looking for safe, fun ideas to help socialize and exercise your dog, contact our team.