Dog parks & dog bars are great fun for dogs and humans because they provide opportunities for exercise and social interaction. They might seem like the perfect way to socialize your puppy and help them burn off all that extra energy—but wait! One of the worst things you can do is set your new puppy loose in a strange environment with strange dogs without some preparation.
Keep reading to learn how to correctly introduce your puppy to the dog park.
Is Your Puppy Old Enough?
Puppies shouldn’t be brought to the dog park before they are at least 12 weeks old. By that age, most puppies are vaccinated. If your puppy hasn’t yet been fully vaccinated—including their boosters—wait until they’ve been immunized against the following diseases to bring them to the dog park:
Keep in mind, these vaccinations are the bare minimum. As the most serious communicable canine diseases, these four should be at the top of your vaccination list. However, because most dog parks are open to the public, you’re likely to encounter dogs with other, milder infections and parasites that your puppy could be exposed to. Those include:
- Leptospirosis: A bacterial infection that can be passed from infected dogs to people. Vaccinating your dog can help to protect them.
- Giardia: A protozoal infection prevalent during wet times of the year. This can also be passed from infected dogs to people.
- Hookworm: An intestinal parasite. Keep your dog on a routine deworming schedule to protect them.
- Roundworm: An intestinal parasite. Keep your dog on a routine deworming schedule to protect them.
- Kennel cough (tracheobronchitis): A syndrome caused by viral or bacterial organisms. Vaccinating your dog can help to protect them.
- Canine influenza virus (CIV): An infection that can lead to pneumonia. There are vaccines for the two known CIV strains.
- Fleas: These can transmit disease to dogs and people. Give your dog routine flea prevention to protect them.
These diseases, infections, and parasites can be especially damaging to puppies, so don’t rush to the dog park before you know they’re fully protected.
Besides waiting until your puppy is fully vaccinated, it’s also a good idea to stay away from the dog park until they have been spayed or neutered. This can help to eliminate unwanted behaviors from your dog and other dogs they interact with.