Dog Parks 101

First-Time Visitors

So you’ve never been to a dog park before? Well, get ready for a fun and entertaining time at one of the Kenosha County Dog Parks. You’ve picked a great place to start on a new adventure for both you and your furry friend. We believe that after your very first visit you will call one of the Kenosha County Dog Parks your "home away from home." 

If you’re a bit apprehensive or just want to see what it’s all about, it may be a good idea to check it out before you bring your dog. Stop by one of the parks and watch the fun in action. Ask those who are going into the play area for some pointers on what they did on their first visit. Familiarize yourself with the dog park "petiquette." All of us, people and dogs, have to follow the same rules.

What to Bring

Is your dog ready for a visit to the dog park? If your pet is well socialized and does not show dog aggression, there is only one way to find out. Make sure you pack your doggy-bag, which you should always have with you on play dates at the park. After each visit, make sure to repack your bag as well. Things to bring:

  • A bowl or container to drink out of (Please note that water bowls are not permitted inside the fenced areas of the dog park for health reasons.)
  • A favorite Frisbee or toy (Note, that dogs, like children, do not always like to share. If the thought of another dog taking your dog’s toy away or destroying it will hurt you or your dog’s feelings, or if your dog gets aggressive around his/her toys, it’s better to leave them at home.)
  • A leash
  • Baggies to clean up after your dog
  • Fresh water
  • If your dog does not have its license on its collar, bring it along as it must be displayed while at the dog park.

To Each Their Own

Each dog will react differently depending on its nature, age and home environment. A new off-leash environment may be stressful for your pet, so try to arrive at a non-peak time when there are not as many dogs at the park. On leash, walk your dog around the outside of the park fence line. 

Let the dogs on the inside come over to the fence and sniff. If your dog acts curious and sniffs back, it may be ready to join the others in the park. However, if he/she lunges, barks and acts aggressively, you may need more socialization before using the park.

When it’s time for the big moment to enter into the park, keep your dog on leash until you have entered the first gate. At this time (before entering into the play park through the next gate), please take off your pet’s leash. If the gate behind you is secure, enter through the second gate. 

No doubt at this time, you will be bombarded by the other dogs already at play in the park. No worries. This is the welcoming committee. Similar to when you host a party and greet your guests at the door, dogs meet their new friend at the door (gate) as well. This will happen every time you come to the park. After a few brief moments of sniffing and getting to know each other, off they will go! Your pet will naturally choose a friend that likes to play as he/she does. 

On your first visit, your dog will keep an eye on you, needing reassurance that it’s okay to be in this new environment. It will take several minutes for him/her to become accustomed to the park. A tail curved down between the legs, lying down while other dogs hover about or staying as close to you as possible are all common. Reassure your dog and stay close.

While your dog is getting used to the new surroundings, introduce yourself to the others at the park. Explain that this is your first visit and perhaps ask for tips for your future visits. 

Always keep an eye on your dog and always scoop the poop.

Making Your First Visit a Success

Your first visit should probably be a short one as this entire experience is so new to both of you. No one should become overwhelmed. Make sure you leave on a positive note, and there will be many more visits to the dog park in the future. 

Your dog’s vocabulary will increase as the words, "Do you want to go to the dog park?" will bring new meaning in his/her life. Any sentence uttered containing the words "dog park" will result in perked-up ears and eyes filled with hope. And forget about trying to surprise your pet with a visit to the dog park. He/she will be able to smell the park if you come within a one-mile radius of it.

Like people, dogs have good days and bad days. If your dog is having a bad day, just cut your visit short and try again at a later time. Each person is responsible for the actions of his or her own dog.