Is it Safe to Take My Dachshund to the Dog Park?
One one hand, I like taking my Dachshunds to the dog park. It’s a convenient place to let them run off leash and visit with other dogs.
On the other hand, I worry it’s not safe to take my small dogs to the dog park.
If you are wondering if you should take your Dachshund to the dog park, and how safe they are, this article is for you.
Their are pros and cons of taking your small dog to the dog park and, ultimately it’s your choice.
However, there are several factors you should consider.
This article will help you determine whether or not taking your pup to one is the best decision for your particular dog and situation.
Benefits of Taking Your Dachshund to the Dog Park
The dog park can be great for Dachshunds who have a lot of energy, but no backyard or companions to help release it.
Dog parks provide space to run, sniff and play with other dogs.
It’s not a good idea to use a dog park as the only place you socialize your Dachshund, as it’s is far too overwhelming and potentially dangerous, but it can be a place to continue working on socialization, manners and training.
Some dog parks have separate areas for large and small dogs.
This is ideal for Dachshunds, as they can romp with pals their own size.
Risks of Taking Your Dachshund to the Dog Park
Unfortunately, it’s easy for the risks of taking your Dachshund to the dog park to outweigh the benefits.
Below are the most common dangers.
Read through these risks to decide if it’s worth it to take your Dachshund to the dog park.
Nothing is worse than going to a dog park where there is a canine bully on the loose.
Sadly, many dog parents take their untrained dogs to the park, putting all of the other pups at risk.
Dachshunds are easy targets for uncontrollable dogs to attack.
It’s best to completely avoid the dog park if there are big dogs running around in general, whether they are aggressive or not.
You never know if the dogs at your local park have contracted a contagious parasite.
Parasites can be spread from dog to dog in many different forms, including from saliva, urine and feces…. and your encountering these things at the dog park is a given.
When you bring your Dachshund to the dog park, you always run the risk of them picking up a parasite or disease.
This risk can be mitigated by keeping your dog up to date on vaccinations but dogs who are unable to receive them for one reason or another should probably stay away from the dog park.
Fleas and ticks can also be picked up easily at the dog park. My first Dachshund always came home with fleas after visiting a popular dog park with long grass.
Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to protect your Dachshund from fleas and ticks with preventative sprays, pills, or the application of topical repellants.
Not all dog parents believe in vaccinations. Some may not even know if their dog has been vaccinated or not.
The point is, unvaccinated dogs do run around dog parks, whether we know it or not.
Dogs who haven’t been vaccinated can spread disease, like kennel cough and canine influenza, and parasites to your dog even if your Dachshund has had all of their vaccines.
Remember that vaccines aren’t 100% foolproof.
Dog parks often don’t get funding like regular parks do, so they end up with poor quality fencing that becomes wrecked and unsecure over time.
Also, even if the perimeter gets checked and repaired regularly, a dog may have dug a hole under the fence since someone last looked.
Dachshunds are small dogs so it’s easier for them to slip through those escape points.
Before letting your Doxie lose in a dog park, it’s a good idea to walk the fence line to ensure it will indeed be a safe place for them to run around off-leash.
There are also dog parks which don’t have any fencing at all.
These types of parks can be incredibly risky for Dachshunds, as they may run and run and run if they see prey in their line of sight. (Which is a good reason to teach your Doxie a solid recall).
We only suggest taking your Dachshund to a fenced dog park, as insecure areas could lead to disaster.
Sadly, a lot of dog fights happen at the dog park.
In many cases, they sound worse than they are and none of the dogs involved are hurt.
However, there have been cases where a dog was seriously injured and required medical attention or worse (died).
If you take your Dachshund to the dog park, make sure to you know what to do if a dog fight occurs, especially if your small dog is attacked by a larger one.
Dachshunds can be fragile with their elongated backs and short legs.
Their short stature puts Doxies at risk for injury at the dog park if play is getting rough, or a fellow dog becomes aggressive.
A person could accidentally step on them too if they don’t watch where they step! ( I know because it’s almost happened to my Dachshund more than once)
Something to consider is having your Dachshund around untrained dogs, which can injure yours.
Untrained and unsocialized dogs can cause harm to your Dachshund if they do not have proper play manners.
All it can take is one play smack to their spine to cause a back injury.
Not all dogs at the dog park are trained or socialized, and you may not know which dogs until an accident happens.
Have you ever heard any dog park horror stories? There are plenty.
Collars can get stuck in fencing, causing strangulation.
Dogs can choke on toys or treats given by other pet parents.
Your pup could step on a nail or glass.
A freak accident is something that happens very rarely but the chance of something happening when it’s in an area you don’t have control of – control of what goes on the ground and the actions of other people and dogs.
For this reason, it’s important to not let your guard down.
Why You May Want to Pass on Taking Your Dachshund to the Dog Park
I recommend observing your local dog park at least once before you take your Dachshund there to identify if it is a safe place for your Dachshund to play and exercise.
It’s best to visit alone before you go to watch the other dogs and people interacting, and walk the perimeter.
At the very least, leave your Dachshund in the car while you check on things.
Here are some mental notes you’ll want to make note of before bringing your Dachshund to the dog park:
It’s absolutely crucial that you observe everything happening at the dog park before you choose to enter.
- Are there other large dogs in the dog park that are playing rough?
- Are the dog parents keeping an eye on their dog’s behavior and play mannerisms?
- Is the fencing secure enough to keep your Dachshund safe within the park walls?
- Is there a separate fenced area for small dogs to play?
- Do you see any dogs acting aggressively?
How do I know if a dog is being aggressive or is just engaging in normal dog-dog play behaviors?
Sometimes it can be challenging to differentiate aggressive behavior from playful banter.
For example, dogs often make a growling noise when engaging each other in play. However, some types of growling are intended as threats.
When dogs play, it’s common for one to roll on their back (a submissive position) and for the other dog to place their open mouth, with teeth bared, over the other dog’s neck.
This can sometimes be mistaken for biting when, in fact, the dog in the dominant position means to harm and never closes their mouth to bite down.
Signs of aggressive canine body language include:
- Raised hackles
- Pinned back ears
- Baring teeth
- Stiff posture, often on conjunction with leaning slightly forward
The differences between rough play and dogs being aggressive can be confusing. Spend a few minutes on the internet before you go brushing up on dog body language.
It’s not always easy to be sure whether or not a dog is being playful or displaying warning signs.
However, it’s helpful to watch the two dogs interact with each other in order to determine which it is.
If one dog is displaying what look like aggressive behaviors to you, and the other dog is still engaged with this dog and reciprocating the actions in a give-take kind of manner, they are probably just playing.
However, if one dog has the clear aggressor, especially while the other dog is displaying avoidance behaviors like cowering or trying to run away, it may be that the dominant dog is being aggressive.
If not kept in-check, things might escalate into a fight.
To be absolutely safe, avoid the dog parks where you observe a dog doing anything that feels aggressive to you.
All it takes is one quick second for your Dachshund to be injured by a dog who snaps.
Safer Alternatives to the Dog Park
If you have determined that taking your Dachshund to the dog park is too risky, there are some alternatives.
The safest, and perhaps most fun, alternative to bringing your Dachshund to the dog park is to have small play dates with a friend or two.
You know which dogs your pup is compatible with, so schedule some time to get together!
Play dates are also an excellent way to socialize your Dachshund before heading straight for the dog park.
Taking your dog to daycare to socialize and burn off some energy is also an option for those that can afford it (and have it available in their area).
Although doggy daycare can be just as risky as the dog park for Dachshunds in some cases, if you choose wisely it can be a safer alternative to the free-for-all at the dog park.
Try to choose a daycare with attentive staff and separate area for small dogs.
Puppy socialization classes
If your Dachshund is still young – typically under 6 months – enrolling in a puppy socialization class will allow your dog to play with others under the supervision of a dog trainer in a controlled environment.
The dog park can be a terrific place for your Dachshund to run off some energy, and get playtime in with their buddies, as long as everyone there is following the common dog park etiquette rules.
But not all dog parks are created equal.
You need to verify it’s safe to take your Dachshund there by observing sans-dog once or twice before your dog visits with you.
If one dog park in your area seems risky, seek out a different one or avoid dog parks alltogether.
Your Dachshund’s health and wellness is priority, so a clean, calm dog park will be best.
It’s better to be safe than sorry in my book and there are alternatives to the dog park that can accomplish the same goal.
About the Author
Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.
I grew up with dachshunds…they are such great dogs. Mine always loved getting outside to run and play but then they were serious about getting back inside to be with their humans. Dog parks sound like a great place to help the socialize with other dogs as well as people.
I think they can be a great place for socializing dogs. We go to dog parks from time to time. However, my point is that they are not the place to take a completely unsocialized dog or dog with behavior issues to help them “get over it.” Socialization and manners training should start at home. The dog park can be a good place to help reinforce behavior that has already been taught.
We’ve been fortunate to have a relatively good/positive dog park experiences. We don’t let our dogs run around without our watching them. We also know our dog’s personalities and progressive behaviors towards other dogs; what Liesl can tolerate isn’t what Fritz can tolerate. We move away from aggressive or overzealous dogs while trying not to deny the kids their squirrel observation time. Our dogs don’t really care about other dogs; this is their off-leash time. We’ve had some bad experiences (most recently an owner left their dog in the park and went to the playground next door; her dog was overzealous and getting in everyone’s way) and we’ve had to call park officials for help. It’s a toss up what types of owners/dogs will be there on any given day.
I seriously can’t fathom that someone would bring their dog park and then go away leaving them unattended? Who does that?? I’ve never seen it myself, luckily. Or at least not that I noticed. I’m glad most of your experiences were positive.
Thank you for sharing this helpful information, Jessica! I agree that a clean and calm dog park is ideal for Dachshunds. Some parks even have play equipment for dogs and they just love it!
During my visits to the dog park I have seen 2 dachshunds start dog fights. They are an aggressive breed but since they are so small the harm usually comes to them and not to the other dog. I think this is an important point that dachshund owners should remember when visiting a dog park.
In my experience, ALL small dogs can be more aggressive than larger dogs. It’s not genetics though (aka, not the “breed”). It’s that owners of small dogs don’t think they need to be trained because they are easy to physically control and many small dog owners anthropomorphize them (treat them like kids – I do this too so no criticism but I work to train mine). It’s frustrating and a bit sad. I do agree it’s important to recognize a dog’s comfort with strange dogs, and their ability to interact calmly or not, when deciding to visit a dog park.