A Positive SF Dog Park Experience
Here at Balboa Pet Hospital, we see MANY injuries that result from inappropriate behavior by dogs or their owners (or both) at San Francisco dog parks or at Ocean Beach. While they are great for socialization and exercise for many dogs, others may feel threatened or anxious. A good experience depends largely on your understanding of your dog, advanced preparation, proper training, and good etiquette for humans, too.
Your manners matter
- Know your dog’s temperment and don’t force him or her to leave their comfort zone and thus risk injury to themselves or others.
- Before visiting a dog park, call your veterinarian to ensure your dog is current on all core immunizations and a Bordetella vaccination.
- Your dog should be current on his flea and tick preventatives.
- Parasites are easily spread so always pick up any feces your dog may produce.
- Do not bring very small breed dogs, dogs under 4 months of age, intact males, nor females in heat.
- Be present while your dog is playing so that you can interrupt if your dog becomes aggressive, involved in ganging up on another dog, or if your dog becomes the target of an attack. Turn off your phones and take your headphones off.
- If your dog is not having fun, go for a walk outside of the dog park.
Discipline and Focus
Your dog must be able to focus exclusively on you when you issue a command, especially any time other dogs are present. If this is not a skill you and your dog have mastered, seek the help of one of our veterinarians for training information. Being pounced on without warning, or having a bunch of dogs come at you like a speeding train can scare dogs and people. Train your dog to greet other dogs and people politely.
Not all dogs enjoy the dog park, and that is all right. Sometimes a walk around the neighborhood, a game of Frisbee in the backyard, or a smaller play group with dogs your dog already feels comfortable with is a better option. Talk with Dr. DelRosso, Dr. Harrell, Dr. Stanley or Dr. Clark if you have any questions.