We frequently take our dogs to the dog park and have learned a few tips from watching our dogs and from other dog owners voicing their concerns.
I've heard a lot of people say to leave your dog on its leash the first time you visit the park. Their reasoning is that if your dog or another dog were to get aggressive you could easily step in and "yank" your dog away from the other dog. I don't know what your experience is with this but our was not a good one. We found that the other dogs and our dog were much more aggressive when a dog was on its leash
at the park but as soon as the leash was off they were all happy, sniffing bottoms and playing. Everyone I talked to at our park says it's less stressful for the dog to be off his leash and will make him more friendly to other dogs. You can try both ways and let us know what worked best for you.
Tip #1 - Pay attention to your dog - Watch your dog at the park just like you would watch your human babies at their park. You need to make sure they are being friendly to the other dogs and also make sure other dogs are being friendly towards them. And of course you know this since you're on our site, but you need to know when your dog's poop so that you can clean it up.
Tip #2 - Hydrate your dog - Dogs run around and play much harder at the park than they do at home. Please make sure you bring water with you to keep your dog hydrated. Most parks have a water source and bowls for dog's to drink out of. If your dog drinks all the water go ahead and fill the bowl back up for the other dog's.
Tip #3 - Don't use the dog park as a way to get out of taking your dog for a walk - There are times that an overly excited dog can make non-aggressive dogs become aggressive. If a dog has been there for awhile and your dog shows up losing his mind, he could irritate other dogs and cause a fight. One way to make him calmer and get "the walk" out of the way is to park a block or two away from the dog park, put your dog on a leash and give him a nice walk to get all his initial excitement under control.
Tip #4 - Teach your dog commands before going to the park - This was a huge mistake for us. My dog had no idea what "COME" meant or "HERE" and he quickly learned that when I yelled those commands it meant I wanted to play a game of chase! Make sure your dog understands what "no" "come" and "here" means before you let them out in a wide open park.
Tip #5 - Last but not least and the most important tip to follow is to make sure that your dog is spayed or neutered, has all his shots, and is not sick. Nobody wants their dog getting pregnant at the dog park or getting sick. Please never bring a sick dog to the park.
Have fun and enjoy your time at the park with your fur baby!