How to Keep Kids and Dogs Safe at Parks

San Diego dog parks can be a great place for your dog to exercise, run around leash-free in a fenced area, and socialize with other dogs. Check out these tips to learn more about how to protect yourself, your kids, and your dog while at an off-leash dog park. When you know what to do ahead of time, then you’ll be free to enjoy the day and have fun at the dog park with kids!

Think twice about bringing young children

While dog parks can be a great learning opportunity for children to learn dog body language and appropriate behavior around animals, younger children shouldn’t accompany you to the dog park unless they are well-versed in how to act around dogs — including leaving them alone, standing still around running dogs, and dropping to the ground and covering their necks if a dog attacks.

If your children are comfortable around dogs, be sure that you are able to closely monitor both your dog and your children at the same time. You may consider bringing an adult friend or family member so that one of you can watch the dog, while the other keeps an eye on the kids.

Make sure your dog is properly trained

It’s important to teach your dog key skills so that he will have a good dog park experience. Before taking your dog to the park, he should respond to “come” and other basic commands, so that you can corral him in a hurry if need be. You will be more in control during your visit to the dog park with kids.

Prepare in advance

Think about what you’ll need to bring to the dog park, such as comfortable clothes and shoes. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to protect your skin from sunburn, early skin aging, and skin cancer. Put together a dog-park kit that includes essentials like a leash, water for you and your dog, and bags for clean-up. Save treats and toys for later; there’s just too much potential for dogs to engage in guarding or stealing behavior that can lead to aggression and fights.

Follow the dog park rules

Each dog park has different requirements and rules. These may include:

    • Keeping your dog on a leash – Until the dog is in a safe off-leash area.
    • Behavior and socialization requirements – Train your dog to enter the dog park in an orderly matter.
    • Make sure your dog’s vaccinations and parasite control is up to date – This will make sure that your dog is protected and that you are doing your part to protect other dogs.
    • Spay or neuter requirements – Avoid bringing dogs that can run the risk of creating conflict between other dogs, or unintentional mating.
    • Clean up after your dog – This will help protect your dog and other dogs against the spread of parasites.

Some parks require you to purchase a permit, but most are free and open to all. Be sure you research dog parks ahead of time to find one that works for you and your dog, and follow the posted rules and signage once you get there.

Linger before entering

When a new dog arrives at a dog park, the other dogs often rush over to investigate. This sudden flood of attention can overwhelm newcomers. To avoid a canine mob scene, linger outside the park for a few minutes and let other dogs notice your dog’s presence outside the park’s enclosure. When their excitement about her arrival dissipates, you can enter the park together.

Know when to remove the leash

Once you’re inside the leash-free zone, be sure to take the leash off of your dog. Leashes interfere with the natural body language of dogs and can introduce unfavorable power dynamics between dogs.  Another reason to remove your dog’s leash is that he could get it tangled up with another dog, and one or both of them could get hurt.

Allergies at the Dog Park

While at the dog park, it’s possible that you’ll come across pollen, insect bites or stings, and of course, dog hair and fur. These potential irritants may cause problems for allergic children. If you struggle to manage you or your child’s allergy symptoms, consider making an appointment to see an allergist. They can help you identify which allergens trigger symptoms and discover the best treatment options for you and your child.

This Scripps AMG article can help you determine when it’s time to see an allergist. Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups is your source for San Diego’s most qualified Allergy and Immunology Specialists. Click the button below to see a list of allergy and immunology specialists in your area. Find a Specialist ›


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