Best Dog Park Activities
The weather is sunny and warm, the nights are longer, you have a bit more free time after work, and your dog is itching to go outside! If you’re tired of playing in the yard or walking your neighborhood, you may be thinking about heading to a dog park and wondering which activities are the best to do with your dog at the dog park.
From walking to playing games to visiting with other dogs, dog parks offer lots of options. If you’re not sure what to start with that will give you and your dog the most joy, here are a few ideas.
Top Activities To Do At Dog Parks
Before you head to the dog park, walk your dog for a few minutes to allow them time to burn off some of their pent-up energy. That way they don’t go crazy and bother other dogs or people when they arrive at the park. But once there, here’s what you can do to entertain your pup.
1. Walk and/or Jog
What dog doesn’t love a good walk or run? If you’re hoping to get some exercise in as well, going for a walk/jog is a great way to entertain both you and your dog at the dog park.
If you choose this route, make sure you both have enough water, especially in warmer summer months. In addition, determine whether your dog needs to be leashed for this activity. If you can’t count on your pup to obey your commands and stick by your side, you’ll have to put them on a leash to keep them from bothering others.
2. Play Fetch
Whether you use a ball, a frisbee, or another fetch toy, your dog is sure to love this game! It’s also great to help your dog get used to a new area with new dogs around. You can bring a ball launcher if you want to save your throwing arm, but there’s no question that fetch is a super easy game for both of you.
Keep in mind that your dog should be well-trained to bring their toy back to you. You don’t want them returning to other people or trying to steal other dogs’ toys when they see them while running about. Teach your dog to come at your call and learn to “Leave” items when told.
When your dog does bring their toy back to you, be sure to shower on the praise and give them lots of love! You can even offer a treat or two if you’re so inclined.
3. Engage in Tug-of-War
Tug-of-war can help increase your dog’s confidence, but it is crucial to lay the rules out clearly to keep them in line. Once your dog knows that they need to drop the toy when told and that you’re going to choose when you start playing the game, tug-of-war can be a great activity!
While you’re playing, pull from side to side (not up and down) and be as gentle as necessary, depending on your dog’s size and bite strength. You’ll also want to avoid playing tug-of-war with very young puppies whose mouths aren’t fully developed.
4. Take a Swim
Some dog parks offer ponds or swimming pools where your dog can enjoy the water, which is especially nice on hot summer days. Take them to the beach and let them play in the water to their heart’s content!
You may want to take a towel to dry them off if you have to drive home afterward. Also, be sure to provide an umbrella for shade and some extra drinking water.
5. Try Hide and Seek
If your dog enjoys a good mind game, hide and seek is the perfect option for a dog park. With a new area comes lots of new places to hide, especially in a park with trees, bushes, and even buildings to hide behind.
Command your dog to sit or stay, then hurry away and hide. When you’re ready, call your dog enthusiastically and wait for them to find you. Call as often as needed, especially if they’re not used to this game. When they find you, offer them lavish praise and (at least for the first few times) treats!
If you don’t want to hide yourself, you can also use your dog’s favorite toys or treats as the object to find. They’ll love searching the grounds and coming up with their favorite item!
6. Tease with a Flirt Pole
A flirt pole is basically a long pole and rope with a toy tied to the end. You can hold the pole up, leaving the rope with the toy hanging down for your dog to chase and play with. Dogs love flirt poles, and they may save you a bit of energy!
You can buy a flirt pole or make one yourself if you have a long stick, a rope, a toy, and some great knot-tying skills! Just be sure that you don’t use a flirt pole with a dog who has hip dysplasia or joint dysplasia as the extra jumping can damage their joints even more.
7. Test Out an Agility Course
Some dog parks come with agility courses where you can take your dog to let them practice their skills. Let them run through tunnels, climb over balance boards, weave between poles, etc.
Agility courses are fun and a great way to teach your dog how to use their mind to solve problems while getting in some great exercise too!
Etiquette Tips for Dog Parks
Now, when you take your dog out to the park, it’s important that you help them maintain good etiquette. Nobody likes fighting dogs or angry owners! Here are a few tips to help you ensure your dog is on their best behavior and will do well in a dog park.
- Get your dog updated vaccines and a license with a tag and collar before going to the dog park. In some places, your dog must also be spayed/neutered to visit a park.
- Check the rules of the park online before you go, as some won’t allow outside toys or treats where so many dogs are going to be gathered together.
- Practice common commands before you go to ensure your dog is ready for the park. They need to know how to drop or leave a toy (especially one that isn’t theirs), how to come and stay, etc.
- Know your dog’s personality—if they’re naturally aggressive or don’t like other dogs, a dog park is probably not a great idea.
- Keep treats private. Don’t give them to other dogs and don’t give them out when other dogs are nearby as this could cause your dog to become territorial and aggressive.
- Pay attention to your dog. Don’t go to the dog park to scroll your phone. If you do, you could miss it if your dog is upset or getting into fights.
- Watch your dog’s body language. If they seem tense and are cowering around another dog, they are probably scared and may need to leave. If they’re acting aggressive or possessive or seem to be “packing up” with other dogs (which could lead to fights or overexcitement), they may need to leave and try again when they’ve calmed down.
- Bring water. Your dog will be busy, but having water on hand is a good way to help them stay hydrated and check in with you regularly. Plus, public watering spaces can carry germs and diseases.
- Bring some doggy bags to help pick up your dog’s poop—this is a must at ANY dog park!
Well, there you have it. Now that you have some activities to try and know what rules of etiquette to follow while there, head out to your local dog park and have some fun!
If you notice your dog park is having a rough time handling all the poop in its trash receptacles, our team may be able to help! We love keeping yards and parks clean for dogs and regularly help empty park trashes to provide a safe and clean environment for play. Check out our services to learn more!