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Dog Park Alternatives: 5 Vet-Approved Exercise Options

Written by: Ashley Bates

Last Updated on June 25, 2024 by Dogster Team

Labrador Retriever dog swimming in the pool

Dog Park Alternatives: 5 Vet-Approved Exercise Options


Dr. Chyrle Bonk Photo


Dr. Chyrle Bonk

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Going to the dog park is likely one of your dog’s favorite things to do. It’s the best of all worlds—they get to get out of the house, run around like crazy, play with new and old friends, and tucker themselves out. But dog parks aren’t always an option in your area or due to your dog’s introverted personality.

If you are looking for other ways for your furry friend to get some exercise but don’t want to fiddle with or can’t visit traditional dog parks, we have a few other fun ideas for you.

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The 5 Great Dog Park Alternatives

1. Go on a Hike

In every area,you can find lots of trails to explore. Your dog will love putting a nose down in nature, smelling all sorts of new animals, plants, and soils.

It can be a terrific way for you both to get some fresh air, and you’ll find trails near both rural and city areas. So, you have quite a few options to choose from.

dog on a leash hiking with owner
Image Credit: N K, Shutterstock

2. Just Add Water

If you have a lake or waterway nearby, swimming or playing in the water  might be extremely fun for your pup. Some dogs are made for the water, too. These avid swimmers usually have webbed feet. You might recognize these breeds, such as the Golden Retriever, Newfoundland, Labrador Retriever, or Portuguese Water Spaniel.

Swimming is great exercise for those dogs that enjoy it and is low impact so it won’t have as great of an affect on achy joints. Remember to always bring a life jacket for your pup—no matter the skill or swimmer.

3. Make a Playdate

Do you have canine-loving friends who have fur babies? If so, you could always invite them to a  playdate. This is a good way for your dog to get some socialization, without overwhelming those pups who really don’t like the dog park.

4. Go on a Neighborhood Walk or Jog

If you live somewhere that is easily walkable, just take your dog for a nice stroll around the neighborhood. You’re likely already doing this anyway, but you can keep things interesting and exciting by changing up the route you take.

Do you live close to Starbucks? Walk your dog down to the coffee shop for a Puppuchino, let them enjoy it, and then walk back home while you sip your iced coffee. It’s a win-win for both of you.

Some dogs also make great jogging partners. Athletic breeds can be easily taken on a jog with you, provided that they have proper leash training.

woman walking a beagle dog on leash
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

5. Visit a Dog Beach

This may not be a good solution for dogs that have social anxiety, but if you don’t have a dog park in your area but there is a dog-friendly beach instead, take them there for a romp in the sand.

Just be sure to carry all needed supplies with you, including their leash, sunscreen, food and water, and a life vest. Your dog can play with other dogs or have some one-on-one play time with you.

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Benefits of Dog Parks

There are plenty of upsides to dog parks. After all, it gives your pup something to do, and you don’t even have to be the one to play with them. You can enjoy some sunshine and maybe even some conversation with fellow dog lovers and let your dog burn off some steam.

It’s a fantastic way to get your dog out of the house and into a controlled space where you don’t have to have them on a leash. Dog parks are usually perfect for people who live in populated areas as city streets are often limited as to the activities you can do with your dog.

owner walking the miniature schnauzer dog at the park
Image Credit: Anton Pentegov, Shutterstock

Restraints of Dog Parks

Are you hesitant about visiting a dog park? You may have heard of people that had bad experiences, or you know that your dog’s personality is not compatible with all the activities in a dog park. Whatever the reason for you personally, here are some of the restraints of dog parks that may lead you to wanting to find something else to do with your dog.

Expensive or More Regulations

Most dog parks are free. You simply take your dog there, let them run off some energy, and take them back home. Other dog parks, however, especially in bigger cities, might charge an arm and leg just to get in.

Some dog parks require memberships, fees, veterinary requirements, and a list of other criteria to access the park. Many of these measures were put in place to protect canines and their owners, as many accidents do happen at dog parks.

However, these better-controlled, more accommodating dog parks are often over some families’ budgets.

dachshund and chihuahua dogs running at the park
Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

Dog Fights

Dogs don’t always get along. They’re going to disagree, just like people, which could potentially lead to a fight. Dog fights can be hard to control or break up without proper care, so it’s best to avoid them if possible.

If your dog has ever been attacked, it might prompt you to look for other options right away. After all, no one wants to be responsible for or be the victim of a dogfight.

Illness and Injury

When a bunch of dogs are allowed to mingle together, passing around illnesses is almost guaranteed. You can do your best to keep your dog up to date on their vaccinations, but that won’t protect from everything. Also, puppies that haven’t had their complete series of shots or dogs that are immunocompromised, shouldn’t go to dog parks.

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Dog parks have their place, for sure. But there are other things you and your canine can do together to let off some steam. It’s always nice to find alternatives, especially if you don’t plan on going back to the dog park anytime soon or you don’t have one in your area.

The more you socialize and exercise with your dog, the healthier and happier they tend to be. We’re confident that you can find fun things to do with your furry friend.

Featured Image Credit: blrz, Shutterstock

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