If it were up to you, man’s best friend would have free reign to chase squirrels in the forest, frolic at the beach, and then come home to a sprawling backyard—for more playtime.
Alas, we live in the real world.
There are laws; some of us live in apartments; there’s wildlife to be wary of, and finding a safe place for your puppy to run, run, run can be cumbersome.
Enter: Your community dog park.
The question is, are dog parks good or bad for dogs? In this post, we give you the lowdown on neighbourhood dog runs. And in part 2, we share dog park safety tips plus other dog-friendly alternatives.
The good, the bad, and the OMG
So, should you take your dog to the dog park? Consider the following.
Some dog runs are membership-only. Others charge a one-time entry fee. For the most part, though, dog parks are free. And these days, nothing beats the value of free.
Like humans, dogs need to get out for their physical and mental health. After all, the great outdoors is where all the action is, where the fun stuff happens!
Fenced-in dog parks are the perfect solution for big-city apartment dwellers. Here, Fido can exercise and play away from traffic.
Toys and treats? Great. But there is nothing like freedom! Fortunately, off-leash dog parks are one of the few places where you are not mandated to keep your dog on the lead.
Unless you have more than one dog, there are not many venues or occasions for Fido to mingle with his furry, four-legged kind. That's why for many doggies, especially younger ones, park playtime with fellow canines can be the highlight of their week!
Burn excess energy
Bored or high-energy dogs that don’t have a way to tire themselves out can be destructive little devils. Where a quick jog around the block (mostly so Fido can relieve himself) doesn't cut it, your neighbourhood dog park comes to the rescue.
Not for young puppies
Puppy socialisation—exposure to other people, animals, sights, and sounds—should be a positive experience. Unfortunately, that is NOT always the case at dog parks. Boisterous greeters, lungers, and roughhousing can traumatise your buddy. In short, dog parks are not the best (or healthiest) environment for puppies. Particularly unvaccinated and unsocialised ones.
Unconcerned pet parents
These folks are the bane of every responsible dog owner's existence. Case in point: Instead of focusing on Fido, he's on the phone! Double-tapping on Instagram. Or chit-chatting in groups. Meanwhile, Fido is pooping up a storm or up to no good. Has he noticed? Nope.
Dog parks have rules, but they typically don’t have enforcers. In other words, you have to trust total strangers. Whether it’s laziness, indifference, or simply not knowing any better, bad calls can make dog parks a dangerous environment for dogs and humans alike.
Dogs come in different breeds and sizes. They also have different personalities and temperaments, different levels of training, and even different play styles. All this to say, there is bound to be some rough-and-tumble that could get your dog (seriously) hurt.
Truth bomb: Dogs don’t always get along with each other. If a fight breaks out, things can escalate fast due to pack mentality. Next thing you know, fur babies/humans are wounded, lawyers are involved, and someone’s dog has to be put down.
Like the schoolyard, dog parks have Top Dogs, Playground Bullies, and Bad Influences. That means your dog could pick up an unwanted (and hard-to-shed) habit or two just by being around them.
Some parks aren't well maintained. Some pet parents "forget" to clean up after their dogs. Some bring unvaccinated and unwell pets to the park. That makes neighbourhood dog runs ground zero for infectious conditions like ticks & fleas, kennel cough, distemper, parasites, ringworm, parvovirus, and rabies.
So, what’s your take? Are dog parks a go or a hard no? Share your thoughts below.