10 tips on getting the most out of Silicon Valley dog parks

For many people, life just wouldn’t be complete without a loyal dog as part of the family.  And for most dogs, two very important things contribute to a complete life: socialization with other dogs, and exercise.  Look no further than your local Silicon Valley dog park to supply both of these.While each of the many dog parks in Silicon Valley has its own layout and amenities, the goal is always the same: provide a safe area where dogs can hang out with their peers and get all the exercise they crave.  It works well, as long as dog owners abide by the park’s rules.  Here are a few guidelines from Mary Avenue Dog Park in Cupertino that are smart practices, regardless of which park you and your dog visit.  (See the unabridged guidelines list here.)

  1. If it’s your dog’s first visit to a dog park, it might be wise to go when the park is generally less crowded.
  2. When you take your dog into the unleashed area, make sure he’s unleashed.  It’s common for leashed dogs to feel threatened (and react accordingly) when around dogs not wearing leashes.
  3. Be considerate of fellow humans, just as you expect dogs to be of one another.
  4. It is the owners’ responsibility to remove their dogs from the fenced area if they become aggressive.  These dogs should not return until they have been appropriately socialized.
  5. Bags and poop scoops are provided for guests.  Use them.
  6. Keep your dog leashed until he is in the fenced area, even if he’s under excellent voice control.  Unleashed dogs can scare some people, plus the City Code mandates that dogs in public must be on leashes.  (This is the Cupertino City Code and is likely the same in all Silicon Valley communities.)
  7. In order to use the facility, dogs must have their rabies tags and licenses on their collars.  An ID tag is recommended as well.
  8. For your dog’s safety, remove choke collars and prong collars before turning them loose to play.  These kinds of collars can get caught on something while running and cause injury.
  9. The dog park or (in this case) the City of Cupertino is not liable for any injuries to people or animals.  Each owner must monitor his or her dog’s behavior and act quickly if the animal shows signs of aggression.

And we’ll add #10: Never try to break up a dog fight, especially when one or both of the combatants is of a large, aggressive breed.  Attempting to stop a fight can result in very serious injury to the person intervening.

If you think there’s a possibility that your dog might become aggressive, take with you to the park a small spray bottle filled with half water, half vinegar.  Spray the mixture into the mouth/nose areas of the fighting dogs.  Often this will cause them to break long enough for their owners to take charge.  If aggression is a serious problem, work with a professional trainer before visiting a dog park.

Both you and your dog can make friends at Silicon Valley dog parks

Dog parks are designed to be a fun experience for both dogs and their owners.  Over time, dogs make friends with other dogs they see regularly and look forward with typical dog excitement to their weekly (or daily!) visits.  Dog owners will likely make a few friends, too.

When the rules are followed and a zero-tolerance aggression policy is in place, dog parks are the ideal place for dogs to run off all their excess energy and get used to being around other dogs in a safe and social environment.

To find a dog park near your home in Silicon Valley, check out a comprehensive list and map on DogGoes.com.

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