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Should YOUR Dog Visit the Local Dog Park?

Should YOUR Dog Visit the Local Dog Park?

Should YOUR Dog Visit the Local Dog Park?

word image 10934 1 local dog park

What’s better than a local dog park full of happy, frolicking canines?

While the concept seems like the perfect scenario,

dog parks are not always the safe and happy places they should be.

Recently, the New York Times reignited a highly debated topic with their “Actually, Dog Parks Aren’t All That Great” article (on Feb. 10, 2020, Section B, Page 9 of the New York edition). But does that headline accurately address the entire debate?

As most social issues go, there’s rarely a definitive black or white answer.

So, are dog parks good or bad?

Dog Parks Are Increasing in Popularity

word image 10934 2 local dog park A 2018 survey by the National Recreation and Park Association indicated 91% of Americans believe dog parks provide positive benefits to their communities. This explains why dog parks are one of the fastest-growing park amenities. (The Trust for Public Land estimates a 40% increase in dog parks since 2009 with 774 parks in the United States.)

So, should dog owners use these parks … or avoid them?

Let’s take a closer look.

Dog Parks: 5 Issues to Consider First

If you are considering a visit to your local dog park, consider the issues below before heading out. Your dog is depending on you to protect him!

Before the Dog Park

word image 10934 3 local dog park Although this sounds counter-intuitive, owners must exercise their dogs BEFORE using a dog park. Sadly, this rule is usually ignored! But overexcited – and over-aroused – dogs with too much energy can create unsocial behaviors with disastrous results among other dogs at the park. A tired dog is a calmer dog.


Dog parks are not the place to socialize a puppy (under 6 to 12-months). Puppy socialization should ensure only positive and supervised interactions.

Under- or Unsocialized Dogs

Is your dog anxious, fearful, nervous, skittish or timid or shy? Then the dog park is not a good option for your dog. Frightening and overwhelming canine interactions can lead to unwanted aggressive behaviors (fighting and bites) and stubborn, long-term phobias and fears.


  • word image 10934 4 local dog park Owners need to be vigilant and constantly engaged with what their dog is doing and communicating through their body language to intervene before issues become intense. Leave your phone in your pocket! This time is all about your dog, not you!

Watch for K9 body language like:

    • Lip licking
    • Yawning
    • Stiff bodies
    • Panting when it’s not hot
    • Dogs pinning down another dog
    • Frenzied barking or growling
    • Erect tails

Dogs will be dogs and it’s important to know what to look for and be willing and ready to intercede if necessary. If you’re not willing to intervene in bad K9 behavior, do not take your dog to a dog park.

  • Be honest in assessing your dog.

“Unfortunately, just because an owner thinks their dog plays well with others,

doesn’t mean they always do.” Dr. Heather Loenser, Senior Veterinary

Officer, American Animal Hospital Association.

If your dog does not play well with others, is timid or unsocial, do not put them – or other dogs at the park – at risk!

Health Concerns

word image 10934 5 local dog park Even seemingly well-maintained dog parks can pose health issues for dogs with underlying health conditions, weakened immune systems or who are older. Dog park health risks include:

    • Rabies
    • Ticks & Fleas
    • Dog Flu
    • Heartworm
    • Kennel Cough
    • Leptospirosis (from standing water)
    • Diseases from diarrhea

The Bottom Line

word image 10934 6 local dog park Not all dog parks are bad, just like not all dogs are bad. But it’s important to know beforehand what you and your dog may be getting into and whether you are prepared to address and handle any issues.

If you do go to a dog park, before entering the park, spend a few minutes watching the dogs and people already there.

  • Are the dogs relaxed and happy?
  • Are the owners actively engaged in supervising their dogs or glued to their phones?
  • Are dogs being rude, bullying or pushy?
  • Do you feel safe and confident about letting your dog into the park? If you do not feel confident, leave the park instead of putting your dog in a potentially uncomfortable situation.

By clearly understanding the potential risks and benefits for your dog, you can ensure your dog’s safety and well-being inside and outside the dog park.

word image 10934 7 local dog parkUnsure about dog parks

For YOUR dog?

Let your dog play in our safe and supervised yard and pool!

East Valley K9 Services has got all your dog training and dog boarding needs covered in the Chandler, Gilbert, Tempe and East Valley areas of Arizona!

Just email or call us at 480-382-0144.

Additional Reading:

Dog Parks: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Dog Park is Bad, Actually

Would Your Dog Fit in at the Dog Park?

Top 5 Reasons Dog Owners Avoid Dog Parks


Image Credits (Shown in Order of Appearance):

Photo by Thijs van der Weide from Pexels

Image by Mabel Amber from Pixabay

Image by Katrin B. from Pixabay

Image by Katrin B. from Pixabay (lady’s legs)

Image by Karen Arnold from Pixabay

Image by juanngomezz from Pixabay

Image by East Valley K9 Services


Picture of Brandy


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