RV Pet Information: How to Find Doggie Parks When Traveling With Dogs
Nine years ago, when I first got my dog Lilac, I lived in downtown Boston. As a result, other than walking on the sidewalks, her closest communing with nature was playing in the city parks. Fortunately for both of us, Boston is a dog–friendly town, so most of the city parks allowed dogs. In fact, we were also lucky enough to live right across the street from one of them and down the street from an actual dog park.
Going to all of those dog parks with a young puppy and dog taught me a thing or two about dog parks. So, let's review three things in this article: 1) how to find a local park wherever you are camping; 2) some important considerations before you enter a dog park; and 3) what to do at the dog park.
- How to Find a Local Dog Park
- Look Online: If you have online access while you are RVing, you can always look online to find a local dog park. There are several good websites which have extensive camping information about local dog park facilities to use while camping with dogs: www.dogpark.com, http://www.ecoanimal.com/dogfun/, and http://www.dogparkusa.com/.
- Do some legwork RV pet information: Call the local pet stores and veterinary offices to ask if they recommend any local dog parks. Also, you should check local bulletin boards (i.e. at the laundromat), dog publications, and newspapers for any dog park ads.
- Call the local or county Department of Parks and Recreation Office and ask about any local dog parks.
- Don’t forget to ask the campground management about camping info like this and any long-term residents at the campground as well.
- Some important considerations before you enter a dog park
- Puppies: You really shouldn’t bring puppies under six months of age to a dog park. Not only might they get hurt, but they don’t have the necessary immunities/vaccinations to be protected from diseases. I know one friend whose puppy got a bad case of puupy warts at a dog park and it took a while for them to go away.
- Un-spayed Females: In an environment with a lot of male and female dogs, an unsprayed female is just a lightening rod for aggressive behavior. So you really should avoid bringing any unsprayed females or un-neutered males to a dog park.
- Aggressive Dogs: Many people take their own dog’s aggressive tendencies too lightly. Then, when they get to the dog park they act surprised when their dog attacks another dog. You should find other places for your aggressive dog to play, such as a beach with few dogs on it.
- Number of Dogs: Make sure that you can handle the number of dogs that you bring to the dog park. Common sense says that more than three is probably too many.
- Basic Commands: As a safety issue, you should always have your dog under control at all times, especially off leash. Teach your dog the basic commands such as: come, sit and stay.
- Doggie Bags: Make sure you take bags to clean up after your dog.
- Separate Areas for Small Dogs: Check ahead to make sure that the park has a separate area for small dogs. A good dog park will have a separate fenced area for small dogs. Many dog breeds have a desire to chase small moving objects. You don’t want your small dog to be that small moving object!
- What to do at the dog park
- Decide when to go to the park for the first time. Ideally, you should choose an off-peak day for your first visit such as a Wednesday. Try to avoid week-ends because that is when everyone goes, so there will be too many dogs there.
- Make sure that you keep your dog leashed until you get to the fenced in areas. This is not just respectful to other park users and the park rules, but it’s much safer for your dog.
- If you have a small dog, never pick your dog up when it gets approached by a larger dog. Picking up your small dog will only encourage other dogs to be more interested in your dog and cause your dog to be afraid.
- Always clean up after your dog. Almost every dog park is equipped with bags or scoopers and trash cans. Please be a good dog owner and don’t leave a trace behind you.
- This is the most important point. You MUST make sure you know where your dog is at all times and what it is doing. If your dog becomes unruly or plays rough, leash him and leave immediately. This is also important for your dog’s safety because the fences are not always secure. It is easy to get so involved with socializing with other dog owners that you can't see your dog. If you can’t see your dog, stop everything and find him before you do anything else.
- Don’t smoke or eat while at the dog park. Many dogs will eat anything that they find. Cigarette butts contain toxic levels of nicotine, so please be careful.
And remember, if something isn’t quite right, don’t hesitate to leave. It is much better to keep you and your dog safe and healthy, than to have an hour of fun. But, if you follow these few simple rules and tips, you and your dog will be guaranteed to have a great time at the dog park.
Last, but not least, don’t forget that some campgrounds have their own beautiful dog parks like this one at a KOA in South Carolina.
Read about choosing the right RV park and other camping information
for your next trip.