Taking Puppies to the Park

People with young puppies need to be aware that off-leash parks and very busy public parks are not the best place to socialize their young charges. Not only can the activity level in these parks be overwhelming for a young dog, the risk of a dog not vaccinated of any age contracting a number of potentially fatal diseases is very high.

Most dog trainers and veterinarians highly recommend that you socialize your puppy in controlled environments, such as your back yard and puppy kindergarten classes. At certain ages, puppies go through what are called "fear imprinting stages". The experiences your puppy has today may possibly affect his behavior for the rest of his life.

If you have a puppy or a new dog (of any age):

- Do not go to an off-leash dog park or any busy public park until the dog has received a full set of vaccination shots.

- Never take your dog off-leash unless you are certain he will come when called.

- Do not allow your dog to swim in rivers or play in the ocean waves unless he is closely supervised. Do not take him off-leash to swim until you are absolutely certain that he knows how to swim and that he is physically strong enough to swim against the current. And, of course, ensure that he is legally allowed in that body of water.

- Never, EVER, allow a dog to swim in a body of water or river that is partially covered in ice.

- For the safety of all park users, any dog with aggressive tendencies towards people or other dogs should never be permitted off-leash anywhere except the owner's fenced backyard. These dogs present a danger to the public and are not good candidates for off-leash parks. And dogs that will not come when called should be going to obedience classes, not off-leash parks.

There are no specific laws dictating who can and cannot go to any park. It would be difficult to enforce this type of rule. But when it comes to the safety of all park users, other dogs, dog owners, cyclists, fishermen, in-line skaters, children and elderly people, common sense must prevail. Always remember that parks are for everyone and safety should always come first.

Article submitted by: © Terri Perrin (Biography & Additional Information)

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