With spring here and summer fast approaching, more and more dogs and their owners can be found at the wonderful dog parks in our area. A great one is in Chantilly VA. It is called Rock Hill District Park and is located at 15150 Old Lee Rd, Chantilly, VA 20151. In addition to dog day care, dog parks are a great place for dogs to get the exercise and socialization they need to be happy and healthy. While most experiences at dog parks are fun and positive, it is always helpful for doggy mom’s and dads to keep in mind some important dog park safety rules.
1 – Make sure your pup is wearing his or her county tag and is up to date on important vaccinations. If your dog is wearing his county tag, it tells other dog moms and dads that your dog has been licensed with the county. All dogs that have a current license with the county have had their Rabies vaccine so it signals to others that your dog is safe for their pup to play with. Other important vaccines are the Distemper vaccine and Bordetella. Canine Distemper is a potentially fatal viral that starts out with respiratory symptoms. The Bordetella vaccine prevents pups from getting what is commonly known as ‘kennel cough’.
2 – Dogs under 4 months of age should wait till they get a little older, or go somewhere like dog day care where it is mandatory that all dogs are up to date on all important vaccinations. If you just got a puppy you are probably excited to start getting him or her socialized and see how he plays with other dogs. However, puppies are the dogs that are most at risk to contract viruses from other dogs since their immune system has not yet been built up. This is the case even though they may have already finished their rounds of puppy shots and been fully vaccinated. Unlike at a dog day care and kennel like Healthy Hound Playground, dog owners are not required to provide their papers to show other owners that their dogs have been updated on all of their vaccinations. They are only required to have their dog licensed and therefore have been vaccinated against Rabies.
3 – Don’t loose sight or command of your fur baby. It is important to keep an eye on your pup at all times while he or she plays off leash. Though most dogs that go to the dog park are usually friendly, every so often even well-trained dogs can miscommunicate and pick up the wrong signal. You want to make sure you can reach your dog quickly should he have ‘a disagreement’ with another dog. Dog owners are all expected to make sure their pups are playing well with others. At day care and boarding kennels, there is an attendant in the group playrooms to supervise but at the dog park, this responsibility falls on each owner for his or her dog.
4 – Dog behaviors to watch for: marking, humping and third-wheeling. At Healthy Hound Playground, these behaviors are discouraged in the doggie daycare rooms. It is also helpful to watch for these behaviors at the dog park and to discourage your own dog from doing them. Marking and humping are both signs of domination that other dogs could take the wrong way. By discouraging these behaviors you are telling your dog that all dogs at the dog park are on an equal level. Third-wheeling is when two dogs are in the midst of a playful romp, and a third dog tries to jump in on the action. This can potentially lead to aggravation in the other dogs, and heated feelings can get out of hand. It is best to discourage your pup from jumping in on other dog’s play. Hopefully he can find another pup to have a run with!
If you keep these points in mind, you will be helping not only your own dog have a safe and fun experience at your local dog park, but the other pups there as well!