Thinking of taking your dog to a local dog park? Before you go, learn a little more about how to enjoy yourselves safely. Here are some dog park safety tips that are sure to help you and your dog enjoy your dog park.
What to Look for in a Dog Park?
Do you have a dog park in your neighborhood? Great!
But just because you have access to a dog park doesn’t mean it’s the best or safest place for your pup to play. Before you play, check the safety of the area.
First, check the fencing. Can your dog jump the fence? Do gates auto-close and are they secure? Parks should be safely enclosed with no chances of dogs getting in or out without their pet parents. A standard feature of most dog parks is a double gate system. This is an area that allows you and your dog to enter, remove their leash and enter the park through a second entry. The purpose of double gates is to make sure dogs don’t accidentally escape.
Second, how’s the size? Dog parks that operate above capacity are more likely to experience moments of canine aggression. This poses a definite safety risk. Make sure to walk on past if you see too many dogs playing. Also, are there separate areas for large and small dogs? If not, this is a safety concern.
Lastly, feel for the ambiance. Who goes to the dog park? Is it frequented at certain times? How is maintenance? All these things need to be considered. When you take your first visit, try to go when it’s not too busy. That way, you and your dog have a chance to explore.
How Dog Owners Should Act?
We love all our pet parents, but sometimes it’s hard for them to understand that bad dog park behavior is often a sign of bad pet owner behavior. Thankfully, with a little education, that can be remedied.
At the dog park, your job is to watch your dog. It’s not a passive activity, however. You should be actively supervising your pup. Dog parks are exciting places. All that energy must go somewhere!
So, what can begin as playful wrestling and jumping can become aggressive attacking fast. Thus, you need to be constantly vigilant. Avoid using a mobile device and texting while at the dog park.
Well-run parks have rules. No kids under a certain age? Don’t bring them. Do you have a mastiff trying to play with a teacup terrier? Uh… no. That’s a problem waiting to happen. Follow the rules and use some common sense to prevent any unwanted altercations.
Is Your Dog Ready to Play?
Does your dog have a mastery of basic commands? Do they reliably answer to the “come” command? If the answer to both questions is “no,” then your dog is not ready for the dog park. They need to have obedience training before they can socialize safely with other dogs.
One bad experience can ruin your chances at ever having a good experience at a dog park again. According to The Association of Professional Dog Trainers, “A traumatic experience can make an impact on a young dog that cannot be fully understood nor erased. A puppy or adolescent who is attacked may well show aggressive behaviors that begin after that incident.”
Quick Dog Park Safety Tips
Here are some quick reminders that will help keep you and your dog safe at the park:
- Put Your Phone Away: Now isn’t the time to zone out. As a dog owner, your job is to ensure the safety of your pet. Within a few seconds, a dog’s temperament can shift. You need to be ready.
- Forget the Toy at Home: Unless your dog loves to share, reconsider bringing toys. If you insist on bringing a toy, maybe bring some extras for the other dogs.
- Clean Up After Your Pet: Pick up the poop. It’s a simple and responsible courtesy to other visitors. The easy part? Most dog parks have little bags to help you do so in case you forget yours at home.
- Read Body Language: If your dog or another dog is staring, crouching or looks VERY tense, it’s time to go home. Better to be safe than sorry!
5 of the Most Popular Dog Parks in Chicago
While there are tons of GREAT dog parks all over Chicago, here are a handful of popular dog parks:
Fred Anderson Park (South Loop)
1611 S. Wabash Ave.
Chicago, IL 60616
This large, 1.20-acre dog park features two dog pens. One for small dogs and another for large. Park features include a water fountain, artificial turf, safety fences, and dog drinking fountains.
Skinner Bark Park (West Loop)
331 W Adams St
Chicago, IL 60607
Skinner Bark Park opened in 2014 and is known for their impeccable maintenance. Check their website to see events such as dog safety education and agility training.
Larabee Dog Park (River North)
652 N Larrabee St
Chicago, IL 60654
Right on the river, Larabee Dog Park is a simple, minimalist park. It’s perfect for a good walk and tumbles with local pups. There are water features to keep the dogs cool in the summer!
Montrose Dog Beach (Uptown)
4400 N Lake Shore Dr
Chicago, IL 60640
MonDog, or Montrose Dog Friendly Area, is a popular area fenced off for dogs! Their website lays out all their rules. People love to visit MonDog because it’s clean, fun, and safe!
Logan Square Dog Park (Logan Square)
2526 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
This location is known for its well-behaved pups and friendly visitors. Come here to relieve your dogs of their wiggles and zoomies in a safe way.
Summary – Safety First
Training your dog to listen to you and feel safe with you is the key to dog park safety. Your actions matter too. The biggest takeaway is to train your dog well and be vigilant. Have a romping good time and stay safe!
For more guidance, check out all our training programs.