While you may have heard that the dog park is no place for a puppy, Newman insists that’s simply not so. “Don’t believe the fear-mongering!” Newman exclaims. “Obviously if there are aggressive dogs or dogs playing too roughly, and if the puppy is extremely tiny, we want to be careful for safety’s sake. But frankly, problems are extremely rare with well-socialized dogs, they help puppies out of their shells and teach them social norms and manners.” The sooner puppies can interact with a wide range of dogs, the better.
Certified dog trainer Yuruani Olguin has similar advice for dog owners with a new puppy at home. “I recommend bringing puppies into the dog park after 6 months of age and making sure to make the first visits brief as to not overwhelm them, ideally at an off-peak hour when there are not too many dogs,” Yuruani Olguin tells The Dodo. To prepare your puppy for the dog park, Olguin recommends starting them out with puppy social hours, puppy kindergarten classes and one-on-one play dates.
But keep in mind, interacting with other puppies instead of a diverse group of dogs will only help to a certain point. “Puppy playgroups are most helpful when unvaccinated pups can’t do otherwise according to the vet’s recommendation,” Newman explains. “Otherwise they’re like having a bunch of kids together with no adult supervision, no teachers.”
Don’t: be afraid to break up play