By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Over the years, local dog parks have become extremely popular. You can find one almost anywhere in any state throughout the country. The parks can provide a fun way for dogs to exercise, socialize and play with other dogs off leash in an outdoor environment but, before venturing out, do yourself and your dog a favor and always keep several very important factors in mind.

First, never take an overly excited dog to the dog park. Instead, put your dog in a relaxed state of mind, by providing a properly structured walk first. This should be done on a daily basis (for approximately a minimum of thirty minutes.) It not only provides balance and focus, but expends excess physical energy as well. Dogs who are fearful, nervous, weak or ill are not good candidates for the dog park. These traits may attract aggression from territorial or overly dominant dogs. Know your dog and try to determine if the dog park would be right for you.

Second, your dog should know the basic commands/tasks for his/her safety, such as “Sit”, “Stay”, “Look,” “Come” and “Leave it.” They can prove to be lifesaving in some instances.

Your dog should also be spayed or neutered as well as be up to date on his/her shots. Keep everyone safe.

Most importantly, strive for confidently strong but loving leadership with your dog. Create that bond before letting your dog venture off the leash on his/her own.

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