Taking Your Dog to the Off-Leash Park

dogs playing at dog park edmontonSpring time is upon us and the urge to get out and run around is here! Our four legged friends (dogs in particular) have been somewhat cooped up all winter and may possibly have a little winter weight to burn off. What better place to do this than the off-leash park!!

The city of Edmonton boasts numerous off-leash sites, with one of the more popular ones being the Terwillegar dog park.

There are a few things to consider prior to going to the park with good ol’ Rover:

  • Are vaccines and deworming up to date? Updated vaccines including kennel cough, rabies and the distemper/parvo combination are recommended to prevent/minimize contagious disease transmission.
    • Off-leash parks can be a good place to pick up parasites, it is recommended to have your dog on a regular schedule of deworming at the discretion of your veterinarian.
    • It’s tick season! Yes, ticks are in Edmonton and surrounding areas (boo!). Specific medications to prevent ticks and other parasites can be obtained from our veterinarian. In addition, it is good practice to check your pet (and yourself) for ticks after trolling through long grass! If you find a tick that has bitten your dog, bring it in to your local veterinarian to be sent for Lyme disease testing.
  • Does your dog like/tolerate other dogs? If Fido goes into fight mode when seeing other dogs, then an on-leash park would be a better alternative.
  • Will your dog come back when called (also known as having good recall)?
    • Some breeds with a very strong tracking focus (Beagles and Hounds for example) may get intent on a scent/object in the distance and end up wandering off and getting lost.
    • Others with a strong prey drive may wind up chasing a rabbit or goose until they are not sure which direction they came from!
    • Puppies just don’t know any better!
    • Practicing recall before letting your dog off-leash at the park is a great idea, and they will probably love the treats!
  • Is your dog licensed? The fine for not having a valid pet license is $250…ouch!
  • Unfortunately, dogs do not always see eye to eye with one another and a fight may ensue. Where possible, if it looks like Rover is not getting along with Fido (e.g. hackles up, posturing, growling, teeth baring, staring), try to safely prevent the altercation before it goes any further.
  • The chances of running into and having altercations with wildlife such as porcupines, coyotes and skunks is quite low, however it still exists! All the more reason to ensure your dog has good recall before letting them off-leash 🙂
  • Lastly, be cautious of the river, it can have a strong undertow and be more dangerous than it looks!
  • If your pet gets separated from you, having a microchip and a collar with your information on a tag prove very successful at reuniting dogs with their owners.

Dog at parkDog parks are a great way to get out for some fresh air and exercise, and a tired pooch is a happy pooch! Following the tips above will help to ensure your off-leash experience is an excellent one. Happy walking!

Click here to find your nearest off-leash park


Dr. Foster has over 19 years of experience practicing Veterinary Medicine and is the owner of MacTaggart Veterinary Clinic in southwest Edmonton.

Recommended Posts