Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hiking and Biking and Dog Parks...Oh My! Off Leash Safety

By Kate Dickson
Customer Care Coordinator
Brookfield Animal Hospital

The moment the temperatures rise above freezing, your dog is thinking one thing; DOG PARK! Dog parks are a great way for your pup to burn off extra energy, lose those winter pounds they may have gained and of course, to socialize. Socializing and exercise are key to help your dog stay happy and balanced, but keeping him safe during these activities is just as important. Whether you’re taking your pup on a long hike, a jog around the block or a quick jaunt to the dog park, there are certain steps and precautions you can take to make sure everyone has a good time and comes home tired, happy and ready to relax.

                When it comes to exercise, your dog’s body needs time to adjust to vigorous movement, much like yours does. Although you can see the eager look in your dog’s eyes when you say, “Wanna go for a walk?,” it’s best to ease him into a walking/jogging routine. Start small and give him plenty of time to rest up between active periods. Stay vigilant and take notice if your pet exhibits any change in gait, limping or damage to their paw pads. Gradually increase the activity level and you’ll reach your goal before you know it.

                When taking your pet on a trip, near or far, don’t forget to pack supplies for him as you would yourself. Extra water, a bowl, some snacks and an extra leash are just a few suggestions. It’s also not commonly known, but dogs can also get sunburned! It’s a good idea to apply some dog-safe sunscreen to your pooch before heading out, and reapply if you’re spending more than a couple hours in the sun. Always make sure your dog is wearing proper identification as well as a current rabies tag at all times, in case you get separated during your outing.

Adventures are sure to strengthen your bond with your pup, but never underestimate the power of good recall! Recall is the ability for your dog to come right to you when you call him, either using his name or another command. If you intend on having your dog off-leash in public, a strong recall is invaluable.

                Dog parks are a great tool for socializing your dog at any age, but keep in mind that the only supervision present is other pet owners. It’s a great idea to read up on some basic dog language to ensure your dog is having fun and behaving appropriately.  Dogs communicate in many different ways, but eye contact and body posturing are the easiest mannerisms to pick out. A dog in play is often loose and wiggly. Adversely, a warning sign for other dogs is stiff posturing and direct eye contact. An easy way to stop any potential issues before they arise is to simply walk in-between the two dogs, focusing on your dog and taking his attention away from the other dog. Dogs can absolutely get tired out and cranky, so know when it’s time to pack it up and head home.

Always be an advocate for your dog. You are the sole person responsible for their health, safety, behavior and well-being. Reach out to your veterinarian if you have questions about their health. Keep them well exercised in both body and mind and get the most out of your summer! 


  1. Thanks for the tips. The last thing we want to have during our hiking trip is an extra tip to the hospital for my dog. This is our first hiking trip with our dog so we are hoping he can make it. With how much energy he has we shouldn't have a problem. The animal hospital told us to just make sure that he also has something to drink and that we know when to pack up like you said. http://metzgeranimal.com/about-us/welcome-to-our-clinic/

  2. Wow, very informative and helpful for taking my dog on a hike. I once had a dog that broke from his leash and we had to search for him through the canyons. Luckily my current dog is much more behaved and can stay when we tell him, but I'll follow your tips in the future just so something like that doesn't happen again. http://www.chadwellanimalhospital.com/about-us/the-hospital/

  3. Thank you for this post man. its very informative.
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