When looking for Dog Parks in Tampa, you have several fantastic options for four-legged fun!  Do you know Dog Park Etiquette? Remember these 7 guidelines with examples of what to bring, think about and do before and after passing through the gate with your most loyal fan; they are guaranteed to make a trip to the dog park fun.

Dog parks in Tampa can be a sweet place to have excellent fun with your dog:

Dog parks are a great place to get outside for awhile, to enjoy the fresh air and let your dog socialize. They can meet and play with new dogs, run safely and be free.  If there is a water feature, they can do what they love best, getting down, getting wet, and getting dirty! Be sure to bring a towel, and a blanket for your car, many dog parks in Tampa have a hose so you can wash Fido down before getting back into your vehicle.  We recommend bringing treats too, something to pick up any poo your 'baby' might do, and a bowl if it's a hot day and your park, does not provide a doggie fountain.

This is 'Kali', sweet friend of Terell Italiano's

Dog parks can also be a dangerous setting for your dog and small children:  

If it is the first time are visiting a park know each one is different, though rules like cleaning up after your pet at most dog parks in Tampa are pretty standard, check the rules before entering. Most dog parks require your pup to be vaccinated and warn against entering if you have an “aggressive” dog. While this is great in theory has anyone ever asked for proof of your dog's vaccinations before entering? Your dog runs the risk of being exposed to worms and disease so be sure your pet has been properly vaccinated before taking them to a public park.

One rule most Tampa's dog park lovers will share that is NOT on the sign is, please don't bring small children to the park.  LARGE dogs are off-leash and there to run, and quite often small children are frightened by or injured as a bounding dog suddenly gets a whiff of and wants a bite of the cookies your little one is eating.  Dog Parks are for dogs.

Before entering take a quick look around at the dogs and owners in the park; if you see something you don’t like, don't go in.  If you are already in, leave. One feature many Dog Park lovers in Tampa appreciate are the three fenced areas at Gadsden Dog Park in South Tampa.  If you are unhappy with one area you can gravitate to another without having to leave.

Dog parks are for socializing, not traumatizing:

Socialization happens when you expose a puppy or dog to new people and places in a way that the dog has a positive experience, creating a good memory for the pup. Dog parks are often overwhelming, if not terrifying for some animals, so don't make plans to head out to the Dog Park until your dog is ready. If your dog isn't socialized a Dog Park is NOT the place to accomplish socialization.  However, if you have a well-socialized dog and are training them, a Dog Park is a great place to train with distractions. If you spend a little time training, be sure to let them have fun too, while at the park you will end up with a dog who will pay attention despite the presence of other dogs. Dog Parks are supposed to be fun for your dog!

The Perimeter area:

Many dog parks have an area outside "The Run" where you can take your dog off-leash before entering the park. DO NOT walk into the park with your dog on the leash. Keeping your dog on-leash while the other dogs are off gives your dog no way of escaping the rush that often occurs when a new dog comes into a park. Not able to get away your pup might feel the need to defend itself, become frightened and snap uncharacteristically. 

Rushing the gate:

When you and your dog are ready to enter one of the dog parks in Tampa most often other dogs rush the gate to greet you, get a quick sniff and size up the newest member of the pack. Think like a dog, when they are running free they adopt a 'pack mentality, ' and the pack wants to know where your dog fits in. This can lead to conflict, or overwhelm your dog.  To avoid the rush, wait it out in the gated area.  It won't take long before most of the dogs go back to running around and you can enter. A good guideline: Pay attention when you are in the park to see if your dog is part of the rush and call them off if a new owner is trying to enter with their dog. 

Taking cues from your pet's body language:

Pay attention to your dog at the dog park!  It's one of the 7 guidelines that will make the Dog Park fun and keep problems to a minimum. Most importantly, be ready to accept that your dog may not have an appropriate personality for the Dog Park. Some dogs are so focused on protecting 'their pack,' meaning YOU, they never relax.  Or perhaps they don't enjoy the company of other dogs.  If your dog trembles, seems frightened and can't relax at the park, or is aggressively attempting to keep every dog and human being from entering a perimeter they set for you, dog parks are not the place for you and your pup. Dogs are great at communicating discomfort and fear. Watch to see if another dog is playing rough, barking, or being aggressive with your dog, if so you need to step in.  Dog parks are supposed to be fun for your pet! 

Pay attention to how your pet treats others:

Imagine yourself sitting quietly on a park bench while your pup frolics and plays, making new friends, wearing themselves out, as you relax, catching up on emails as you sip your coffee...STOP!   Pet parks are a place where your dog runs free as you pay attention to, and spend time with your dog. You need to know where your dog is and what they are up to AT ALL TIMES when visiting a dog park!  Not just for poo patrol, but to be sure your dog is not in trouble or starting any trouble. If you hear yourself saying,  “He just plays roughly like that.” or, "She's just showing her dominance."  you might have a bully for a dog. Pay attention to the dogs your dog is playing with, if they aren’t enjoying it, your dog is a bully.  A dog behaving respects when another dog is uncomfortable and will either leave the dog alone or back off. If your dog does not do this, then your dog is a bully. Do not be afraid or ashamed to take ownership of that fact and either remove your dog from the park or break it up and make sure your dog is not interacting with the dog they were bullying anymore.
For dog parks to work pet owners need to follow these 7 guidelines designed to guarantee a trip to one of Tampa's many Dog Parks is a great experience for every two-legged and four-legged friend seeking fresh air and sunshine while they unwind!
Let us know in comments below where your favorite Dog Parks in Tampa are and why you like them! We look forward to you sharing your favorite places and reading your comments regarding, 7 Guidelines That Will Make the Dog Park Fun. What would you add? Register on 813area to stay connected to local information about dog parks in Tampa, pet-friendly bars in Tampaevents in Tampa and more. Subscribe, it's free!