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Tips for keeping your dogs safe at dog parks

HOUSTON – The mistakes people make at the dog park put their pets at risk.

The City of Houston leash law states dogs are required to be on leashes at all public parks and are prohibited from children's play areas and athletic fields. However, they can run freely at designated dog parks.

There are rules to follow at the parks, and breaking them may mean taking home a ticket. For example, City of Houston Animal Control said, the fines range from no rabies vaccine $111 to running at large, a $38 fine.

Pet owners say rules are still broken daily.

“We've had to leave a couple of times just because there were some aggressive dogs out here,” dog owner Megan Gilley said.

“Usually if your dog is being aggressive maybe for the safety of the other dogs maybe it's time to leave,” dog owner Jordan Sanchez said.

Expert dog trainers say dog park rules are important for people and pet safety.

Example of some rules and expert advice:

1) The "no treat" rule is to eliminate competitive and aggressive behavior.

2) Trainers said inside the gate is considered a hotspot for fights. Dogs may cluster here to check out who's coming in. 

3) Consider going during less popular times. The more dogs here, the greater the chance for trouble.

4) Be in control of your dog by voice and sight.

5) Don't wait until it's time to leave to command them back to you. Practice calling them back occasionally so they don't only associate the command with leaving, which they probably don't want to do.

6) If they ever show signs of aggression, it's time to leash up and leave.

7) Clean up after your dog. E. coli and other harmful bacteria may thrive in park water, especially during these hotter months, which is also why you're told to try and keep your dog from drinking it.

Here are some dog parks around Houston:

Johnny Steele Dog Park at Buffalo Bayou Park
Where: 2929 Allen Parkway

Elizabeth Glover
Where: 3104 Austin St.

Ervan Chew
Where: 4502 Dunlavy

Levy Park
Where: 3801 Eastside

Holly Anawaty Dog Park at Market Square
Where: 301 Milam

Maxey Park
Where: 601 Maxey Road

Tanglewood Park
Where: 5801 Woodway

T.C. Jester Park
Where: 4201 West T.C. Jester Blvd.

West Webster Park
Where: 1502 West Webster

For more dog park locations visit BARK9.com/?parks.