As soon as your puppy has had all his/her vaccinations, you may want to consider checking out your local dog parks (assuming you are lucky enough to have one near-by.)  Under the right circumstances, a dog park can be a great way for your puppy to burn off some of that wonderful puppy energy.  It can also be one of the ways your pup learns to socialize with other dogs and other people.  But before you head for the park with your canine companion, it is important to check out the park and the park rules. It is also important to spend some time learning how to introduce your pup to the park before you jump into the fray.  A little bit of preparation will help both you and your pup get the most from your experience.

Here are some general guidelines for getting started:

  • Make sure your dog understands your verbal commands and will come when called. This is very important, even in a fenced dog park.
  • Always be attentive to what your dog is doing and how he/she is behaving towards and responding to the other dogs.
  • If your dog does not seem comfortable, do not force him/her to go into or stay in the park. It is important that the experience be fun and rewarding.
  • Begin by visiting the park during off-peak hours, such as mid-day during the week. Introduction to the park should be gradual to make sure your dog is happy and comfortable there.
  • Ease into the experience by spending only 15 minutes the first time, and increasing the length of your play time as you feel comfortable.
  • Bring along your poop bags and always clean up after your dog.
  • Bring bottled water and a water bowl to make sure your buddy doesn’t get dehydrated.
  • Ensure that your puppy is wearing an ID tag and rabies tag on his collar at all times.

Visit to find a dog park in your area and to learn more about how to make sure both you and your dog have a positive park experience.  Other helpful resources:

Sample Dog Park Rules

Visiting The Dog Park – Having Fun, Staying Safe

Slideshow: Body Language at the Dog Park

eHow Dog Park Resource

If you and your pup like spending time at the Dog Park, let us know what advice you would give to those who are just getting started.  Thanks!