Dogs are social animals. They live in a pack in the wild and enjoy social interaction. So, if you have a dog who sits at home alone a lot, he might find ways to entertain himself that are not necessarily to your liking. Emptying the trash on the floor for you or chewing on your furniture are usually not acceptable outlets for your dog's pent-up energy to most owners.

But, if you do not have a yard for your furry friend to play in what should you do? There are some options for exercising and socializing your dog. If you enjoy the outdoors, going on walks or runs with your dog is a great way for both of you to get out and get some sunshine and exercise. However, not everyone likes to exercise, so what other options do you have?

Play parks have become popular recently with dog owners. There are pros and cons to play parks. The good things are that your dog can get out and run and play in an enclosed environment. And if your dog likes other dogs, he can play with some dog friends. Not to mention, you can talk to some dog lovers too.

But there are some things you need to know. Not all dog parks are monitored. This means that the fencing may not be kept up appropriately to start, so if there is a gap in the fence, your dog may be able to get out. Also, if the park is not policed, dogs that are not healthy could be playing there and potentially spread disease. Just like when your child goes to daycare and another child is sick and spreads germs, dogs can spread things, too.

First, there are intestinal parasites. If a dog that comes to the park is not on a regular deworming schedule, when he goes to the bathroom he could be depositing eggs in the grass. So when your dog sniffs around to see who has been there before him, he could be exposed to different types of worms ( hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms being the most common). Another potential disease is parvovirus. This virus is also spread through feces and if your dog is not protected can make him very sick. If the park is located in an area where a large amount of wildlife can pass through, they can spread diseases also.

Next, there is the potential for fights. If there are other dogs there that your dog does not know, they could not get along. If dogs are not properly socialized, they do not always respond well to being around other dogs. And some owners do not recognize that their dog is showing aggressive behavior until it is too late. There is also the possibility of dogs playing too rough and one dog being hurt as a result.

There are some rules for you as a good owner to follow too. Do not give out treats. Some owners do not like their dogs to have treats, or they may be on a special diet for health reasons. Also, some dogs are food aggressive and may fight over treats. Do not let your dog off leash and not pay attention to what he is doing. You are responsible for your own dog. If he gets into trouble and causes problems, you will be held responsible. Do not take an in-heat female to a park, this may create unwanted problems. Be sure your dog is healthy, free of worms and vaccinated before taking him to a park.

The important things to know are who owns the park and is it being monitored. If the park is privately run, then there are most likely rules that must be followed. Often the private parks have separate areas for aggressive dogs and possibly even a small dog area too. Be sure your dog is healthy and appropriately trained before taking him to a park. If you go to a park and there seems to be too much commotion, then maybe that is not the right park for you. Also, some parks have water stations, agility areas and other things to keep your dog entertained. Look around at all the parks in your area for the park that has the best features and environment for you and your dog. In some areas, there are play parks attached to restaurants or coffee bars. In these areas, you can get a treat and so can your dog.

Be sure to check with your veterinarian for his/her recommendation for a good area to go to play with your dog, and also for advice on appropriate vaccines to keep your dog protected and