The Dog Days of Fall – by Kaitlyn Collier

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As I’m sure you’re all aware of, we are on fall’s doorstep! The temperature is cooling, leaves will be changing colors soon, and football has begun. Pumpkin Spice lattes are back too! Fall is one of my favorite times of year, and being a dog mom, it’s one of the best times of the year for my pup to spend lots of time outside without worrying about the dangers of hot weather.

You may or may not know, but here at the Manassas Park Community Center we have a dog park! There are two fenced areas – one for smaller dogs and one for bigger dogs, perfect for those who would like to keep their pups playing with dogs about the same size as their own.

Dog parks are a great way to help your dog get exercise and also make new friends. However, as with bringing your children to parks, you should be sure to exercise the same amount of caution when bringing your dogs to the dog park. Dog parks have rules in place to ensure the safety of all the visitors.

Before going into a new dog park, be sure to look over the rules that you’re following them. Most dog parks have similar rules, such as no aggressive dogs, dogs must be fixed/neutered, dogs must be up to date on vaccinations, and dogs younger than six months should not be a visitor at the dog park as they have not received all their required vaccinations yet.

The best advice I can give is to be sure you are paying attention. Use time at the dog park as bonding time with your dog, and be sure to keep an eye on them to ensure they are safe. Another tip is to visit during less crowded times, especially if your dog is still not fully comfortable with large groups of dogs. This can help ease the transition. When it’s less crowded, you are able to do a little more one-on-one training with your dog that would not be as feasible during peak times. Another big tip is to not bring toys, some dog parks have some of their own, but bringing toys can cause your dogs and other dogs to not get along due to not wanting to share.

These are some tips that really helped me during my first few visits to the dog park here at the Community Center and ones I still abide by. The dog park is such a great place to bring your dog to make friends, and you will likely make friends with the other owners there as well. I know I have!

Kaitlyn Collier is the Special Events Assistant for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. She can be reached at 703-335-8872 or via email at k.collier@manassasparkva.gov.

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