Tag Archives: dog parks

Dogs Playing in Dog Parks

 Dogs Play at the Park

Sarah loves playing tag with her pals. Charlie is happiest playing catch, while lazy old Beau prefers to stand on the sidelines.

This sounds like playground life anywhere, only these are dogs, not children, who romp in their local parks every day, and their numbers are growing from coast to coast. From Portland, Ore., to Portland, Maine, communities are carving out public space for unleashed dogs, and finding them as popular as the sites set aside for soccer and softball.

Dogs left alone all day are desperate for exercise when their owners get home from work. Running with other dogs off leash, wrestling with them and playing tug of war get these couch-potato pooches into shape, developing their muscle tone, agility and stamina. Better yet, after an hour of nonstop exercise, most dogs are too tired to chew the furniture or dig up the garden, so behavior improves as a result.

Canine Play Groups Good for Pets

For solitary city or suburban pets, regular contact with friendly, healthy dogs pays off in several ways. Dogs are pack animals, and they learn from one another. At any dog park, there’s a hierarchy in place, made up of the old-timers and mature dogs and then the newcomers and young dogs. The older dogs teach the younger ones what is appropriate behavior and what’s not. Furthermore, pups who grow up playing with other gentle dogs tend to be well socialized; that is, comfortable around other dogs rather than fearful or aggressive.

But there’s another facet to a canine play group’s appeal, and that’s the human connection. Just like parents meeting over the sandbox, dog people who might otherwise never cross paths swap training tips, share toys and celebrate birthdays – cementing friendships in the process.

For the first few years after moving from New York City to suburban Connecticut, Jane Birnbaum knew no one beyond her immediate neighbors. When she adopted Rags, her cocker spaniel, and took him to doggie play dates at a local field, she discovered a real sense of community. Now, if she goes out of town unexpectedly or works late, her dog field friends help out with Rags. If a personal problem arises, it’s her pals from the dog park who provide support.

“For people who work, a dog play group is particularly important,” says Birnbaum. “Rags looks forward to his evenings at the dog field, but it’s also my time to wind down from the work day. After a while, it becomes more about the people than the dogs.”

Dog Park Etiquette

New to the dog park scene? Here are some guidelines:


  • Only friendly, well-trained dogs are welcome at public dog parks. If you can’t control your dog off-leash, exercise him elsewhere.
  • Supervise your dog at all times in case play gets rough. Just like children, dogs sometimes get over-excited and that’s when accidents and injuries occur.
  • Wait until your pup is fully immunized (usually by 4 months) before introducing her to a play group. Until she gets bigger, play dates are best with dogs of a similar size.
  • Take a young or timid dog to a play group when there are just a few easygoing dogs, not when it’s a free for all. Peak hours on weekdays are usually just before and after work: 7-9 a.m. and 5-7 p.m.
  • If your dog behaves aggressively or starts a fight, remove him from the park at once.
  • Keep your dog leashed until you are within the park limits. Also check for leash laws within the park; some don’t allow dogs to run free.
  • Spayed and neutered pets are less aggressive than non-neutered dogs. Leave dogs in heat at home.
  • Is water available? If not, BYOB, especially when it’s hot.
  • Pick up after your dog. Many dog parks provide “poop bags.” If yours doesn’t, bring one from home.


Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

310 919 9372

5 Steps to Prep Your Dog for the Dog Parks

Avoiding the Paw-ful Tragedies

Most dogs love going to the dog park. It’s a chance for them to roam around, play, and meet new furry, four-legged friends. Unfortunately, there are some dangers involved with dog parks. Here are 5 steps to better prepare you and your canine companion for the dog park.

1. Train and Socialize Beforehand

The dog park is a place to refine skills, not to expose dogs to discipline and social encounters for the first time. Respect others and have your dog undergo basic socialization and training classes before exposing him or her to others at the dog park. Basic training commands like sit, stay and heel are a necessity when dealing with a chaotic environment such as the dog park. You may even want to go the extra mile and have your dog certified as a Canine Good Citizen.

2. Keep Vaccines Up to Date

Whenever dogs gather there is an inherent risk that contagious diseases may spread from one animal to another. Consult your veterinarian to determine which vaccines are appropriate for your dog and region — and be sure to keep them up to date, especially before going to places like the dog park. Often veterinarians will recommend administering core vaccines, which protect against deadly diseases like canine parvovirus, distemper virus, and rabies.

3. Use Flea and Tick Preventives

Another important form of prevention for dogs planning to visit the dog park is the use of flea and tick preventives. There are many types to choose from — collars, spot-ons, oral medications, and more. Each type has its own method of application, onset of action, and duration of protection (some up to 12 weeks!). Ultimately, what’s most important is that your dog is protected with a flea and tick preventive before going to the park. Dogs often come into close contact with each other and with grasses, shrubs, and bushes at dog parks. This gives fleas and ticks the perfect opportunity to latch onto new hosts — in this case, your dog. Discuss with your veterinarian what flea and tick preventive is best for your dog and situation. Additionally, check your dog for fleas and ticks after every visit to the dog park.

4. Be Vigilant

Dogs can get a little rambunctious and unpredictable when congregating in packs, so don’t assume you’ll be able to walk into the park, unleash your dog, and come back in 10-15 minutes. Your undivided attention is required in case an incident or emergency should present itself. That means no burying yourself on the cell phone screen! This is especially important if you’re bringing more than one dog to the dog park — though try to avoid managing more than two dogs by yourself. Instead, enlist the help of a friend or two and split up the dog-watching duties.

5. Define a Clear Exit Strategy

If a medical emergency does arise, don’t be caught unprepared. Make a mental note of the nearest exit(s) and mark emergency numbers like your veterinarian’s office and nearest animal hospital on your phone for speed dial. Some offices and hospitals are open on weekends and holidays, while others are not. It’s best to know the hours of availability for your preferred facilities before your dog has an emergency.

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.
Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny
310 919 9372