LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — With weather warming up, a trip to the dog park might be just the thing to perk up your pet. But before you rush into it, ask yourself if you’re prepared for what might await.

Will your dog be in the mix with bigger dogs that you don’t trust? Will there be any shade on hot days? Water? Will it be clean, or just a mess? It’s a good idea to scout out your local park to see what’s there.

And what about you? Are you ready to be out there in the mix again after two years away from strangers?

That bonding time with man’s/woman’s best friend was great. But it might have made you a little less tolerant of the outside world. And that outside world might have lost some tolerance, too.

The good news is that there are choices. We found more than 40 dog parks in the valley — these are parks with fenced areas where you can take your dog off the leash. We have included a few businesses that offer indoor play when you just can’t deal with the heat anymore. So if the closest park isn’t a great fit, do some exploring. You might find a crowd that fits you better, or a place that you trust more.

Check out some of the places near where you live. Click on a marker for more information.

Dog parks are among the fastest-growing park amenities in the 100 largest U.S. cities, according to a recent article by the American Kennel Club (AKC). And Henderson ranked third in the country for the most dog parks for every 100,000 residents, according to 2019 data from the Trust for Public Land. Las Vegas wasn’t far behind, at No. 7 in the country.

Ratings for many of the parks are available on bringfido.com, a nationwide website devoted to travel and dogs.

Have a photo you’d like to share of your dog park experience? Send it to pix@8NewsNow.com.

PREPPING YOUR DOG

The AKC says puppies younger than 4 months that have not had all other vaccinations shouldn’t be around other dogs that could be carrying diseases. Keep them at home until all the vaccines have had a chance to work. The reverse is also true — if your dog is sick, keep it at home. The AKC’s guide dog park etiquette also recommends:

  • If your dog is in heat, keep her at home.
  • Socialize your dog — but not at the dog park. Get your dog together with other dogs before throwing it into a potentially chaotic environment — even frightening for some dogs. “The biggest mistake a dog owner can make when bringing a dog to a dog park is to come with a dog that has had no training or socialization,” said Mary Burch, a Certified Appliied Animal Behaviorist with the AKC.
  • Basic obedience is a must. Commands such as come, down and stay have to produce a reaction, even in the activity of a dog park. Burch said your dog should understand and obey “come” before visiting a park.
  • And if your dog tends to “guard” things like food, toys, or even you, watch out. That attitude might not go well when other dogs approach at a dog park.

“When you do get to the park, don’t just walk with your dog into the middle of a large group of dogs,” Burch said. “Start on the sidelines, where your dog can get a feel for what is happening before he decides to join the other dogs.”

EVALUATING THE PARK

“Remember that some dog parks are better than others. Visit the park before taking your dog there to make sure you haven’t chosen a dog park that has out-of-control dogs and owners who don’t pay attention,” Burch said. Other things to watch for, according to the AKC:

  • Is it clean? In addition to dog poop, look to see that trash and debris are cleared. Unless you want the duty of cleaning up after everyone else, you might just pass on a park that doesn’t meet your standards.
  • Watch the other owners, and if they just have their heads in their phones they’re not paying attention to their own dogs. That could be a problem if trouble starts.
  • Separate areas for large and small dogs is much safer for all concerned.
  • Crowded dog parks can lead to intimidation for some dogs. This might mean trying different hours or another park altogether.
  • Communal water bowls are a bad idea. That makes it easy for parasites, infections and viruses to spread.

“Dogs who are enjoying the dog park are relaxed and they will play with other dogs,” Burch said. “These are dogs who are confident enough to move away from their owners.”

And be realistic — your dog could be the problem.

“Dogs should be removed from the dog park if they are canine bullies, or showing any signs of aggression,” Burch said. Bullying behavior can include pinning other dogs to the ground or intimidating small dogs. One sign at the Sunset Dog Park suggests: “If your dog must be muzzled, perhaps it shouldn’t be in the Dog Park.”

Dogs should also be removed if they aren’t enjoying the experience. Burch said if a dog hides under a bench or clings to the owner, it’s probably best to take it away from the park.

Our full list (or see map above for notes on features at each park):

LAS VEGAS/CLARK COUNTY

  • All American Dog Park: 1551 S. Buffalo Dr., Las Vegas, NV, US, 89117
  • Barkin’ Basin Dog Park: W. Alexander Road & N. Tenaya Way, Las Vegas, NV, US, 89129
  • Barx Parx: 8868 S. Eastern Ave #115, Las Vegas, NV, US, 89123
  • Buffalo Sports Park: 7599 Washington Ave., Las Vegas, NV, US, 89128
  • Centennial Hills Dog Park: 7101 N. Buffalo Dr., Las Vegas, NV, US, 89131
  • Charlie Frias Park: 4801 S. Decatur Blvd., Las Vegas, NV, US, 89103
  • Children’s Memorial Dog Park: 6601 W. Gowan Road, Las Vegas, NV, US, 89108
  • Clark County Dog Park at Spring Valley: 7600 W. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, NV 89147
  • Desert Breeze Dog Park: 8275 Spring Mountain Road, Las Vegas, NV, US, 89147
  • Desert Inn Dog Park: 3570 Vista del Monte, Las Vegas, NV, US, 89121
  • Dog Fancier’s Park: 5800 E. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, NV, US, 89122
  • Fire Station Dog Park: 3776 Odessa Falls Ave., Las Vegas, NV 89141
  • Huckleberry Park: 10325 Farm Road, Las Vegas, NV, US, 89166
  • Jaycee Dog Park: 2100 E. St. Louis Ave., Las Vegas, NV 89104
  • Kellog-Zaher Sports Complex Dog Park: 7901 W. Washington Ave., Las Vegas, NV, US, 89128
  • Lone Mountain Dog Park: 4445 N. Jensen St., Las Vegas, NV, US, 89129 (New, June 18, 2022)
  • Molasky Park Dog Run: 1065 E. Twain Ave., Las Vegas, NV, US, 89169
  • Police Memorial Dog Park: 3250 Metro Academy Way, Las Vegas, NV, US, 89129
  • Silverado Ranch Dog Park: 9855 Gilespie St., Las Vegas, NV, US, 89183
  • Shadow Rock Dog Park: 2650 Los Feliz St., Las Vegas, NV, US, 89156
  • Southern Highlands Dog Park: 10500 S. Jones Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89141
  • Sunset Dog Park: 2601 E. Sunset Road, Las Vegas, NV, US, 89120
  • The Hydrant Club: 109 N. 9th St., Las Vegas, NV, US, 89101
  • Winding Trails Dog Park: 7250 N. Fort Apache Road, Las Vegas, NV 89149
  • Woofter Dog Park: 1600 Rock Springs Dr., Las Vegas, NV, US, 89128

HENDERSON

  • Acacia Dog Park: 50 Casa Del Fuego St., Henderson, NV, US, 89012
  • Arroyo Grande Sports Complex and Pittman Wash Trail: 298 N. Arroyo Grande Blvd., Henderson, NV 89014, Henderson, NV, US, 89014
  • Amador Vista Park: 1562 Amador Lane, Henderson, NV, US, 89012
  • Bark Park: 350 S. Racetrack Road, Henderson, NV, US, 89015
  • Boulder Creek Park: 995 Equestrian Dr., Henderson, NV, US, 89002
  • Cactus Wren Dog Park: 2900 Ivanpah Dr., Henderson, NV, US, 89074
  • Capriola Park: 2155 Via Firenze, Henderson, NV, US, 89044
  • Desert Pulse Park: 475 Pulse Ave., Henderson, NV, US, 89015
  • Dos Escuelas Park Dog Park: 1 Golden View St., Henderson, NV, US, 89012
  • Equestrian Park South and Trailhead: 1298 Equestrian Dr., Henderson, NV, US, 89015
  • Esselmont Dog Park: 2725 Anthem Highlands Dr., Henderson, NV, US, 89044
  • Hidden Falls Park and Amargosa Trailhead: 281 W. Horizon Dr., Henderson, NV, US, 89002
  • Horizon Crest Park: Anne Street and, W. Horizon Ridge Pkwy., Henderson, NV, US, 89052
  • O’Callaghan Park: 601 Skyline Road, Henderson, NV, US, 89002
  • Paseo Vista Dog Park: 2505 Paseo Verde Pkwy., Henderson, NV, US, 89052
  • Reunion Trails Park and Amargosa Trailhead: 44 Chapata Dr., Henderson, NV, US, 89012
  • Weston Hills Park: 950 Weston Ridge St., Henderson, NV, US, 89011

NORTH LAS VEGAS

  • Craig Ranch Regional Dog Park: 770 W. Lone Mountain Road, North Las Vegas, NV, US, 89031
  • Seastrand Park: 6330 Camino Eldorado Pkwy., North Las Vegas, NV 89031