Many new puppy parents want to keep their puppy safe from harm so they avoid social settings and dog parks, which is completely understandable. The mistake they make is that they wait too long to introduce their puppy to the dog park or other social settings So the puppy misses out on building a strong, early foundation of socialization. While this is not life threatening, it just makes the socialization process a little bit more challenging in the long run.
So, when can I safely bring my puppy to a dog park?
You may be eager to get your puppy out and about with other dogs but it’s unwise to go before it’s safe. Your puppy must be up to date on all of his vaccinations before you make that first trip to the dog park. For most puppies, this will be when they’re about 16 weeks of age. Taking your puppy to the dog park any earlier than that puts him at risk of contracting diseases from other dogs. Influenza, distemper, parvovirus and Leptospirosis are a few of the highly contagious diseases that your puppy could be exposed to.
Once your puppy has been vaccinated and is otherwise healthy, you may bring him to the dog park but before you do, here are some tips for making it the best experience.
- Visit the dog park during off-peak hours. Off-peak hours will be less overwhelming on your puppy and of course, not as many distractions.
- Begin visiting the dog parks before your puppy hits adolescence, which is about 6 months of age. Many adult dogs will be forgiving up puppy behaviors but don’t have much tolerance for the adolescents. Sounds like humans, right?
- Let your dog roam around without you holding his leash. Your instinct will be to stay in complete control however, dogs communicate primarily via body language so experts say let go of the leash. Holding onto the leash is kind of like tying someone’s hands behind their backs. This will interfere with communication and put more stress on the puppy.
- Many puppies are still learning to following general commands so it’s best to keep your puppy on a long leash so you can easily reign him in if he gets in a sticky situation.
- Consider joining a member’s only dog park. Neighborhood dog parks that are open to the general public are great however, rules are not enforced and some pet parents don’t use proper etiquette which puts other dogs in the position of being victims of aggression and other poor behaviors. In a member’s only dog park, rules must be adhered to, or the dogs will be asked to leave.
- Clean up after your dog and please adhere to all rules so that all dogs and pet parents can have an enjoyable experience.
Congratulations on your new puppy! Let us know how we can help support your newest member of your family!