How can I tell if my dog will enjoy going to a dog park?

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Dog parks, those fenced-in places where dogs can run around off-leash, can be great places for your dog to blow off steam, by exercising and enhancing her socialization skills.

They can also be scary places, too, so if your dog is especially timid or shy, it can end up increasing her stress and anxiety. Also, if you have a particularly aggressive dog who doesn’t get along with other animals, it won’t be the place for you.

Quite honestly, people can create problems, too. Some have different standards as to what constitutes appropriate behavior, so you might have a problem with a dog’s behavior, while some others may not—and you might come across an owner who blatantly disregards your feelings.

Here are some guidelines that will help to keep yours and your dog’s experience pleasant:

• Don’t bring dogs younger than 4 months old. They can be overwhelmed by the older dogs. On the other hand, their energy and playfulness can be annoying to older dogs. Also, puppies have not had the necessary inoculations to make them safe to play with other dogs.
• Don’t bring your female dog when she’s in heat. It is disruptive, can lead to fights—and you might get a surprise litter of puppies (which makes you automatically contributing to the overpopulation problem.) Only bring spayed and neutered dogs.
• At least for your first few trips, visit the dog park when it’s less crowded .Dogs grow rowdiest in herds. Weekdays are ideal, as dog parks are popular on weekends, holidays, and evenings.
• Only bring a healthy, vaccinated dog to a dog park. Otherwise, you are putting your dog and others in danger.
• Always clean up after your dog. Nothing annoys other dog owners more! Not only is dog waste disgusting, but it’s also a health hazard. Keeping the place clean ensures it will stay open for everyone to enjoy.

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