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Is It OK to Take Tripawds to Dog Parks?

If your dog lost a leg and you are wondering if you can take Tripawds to dog parks, these do’s and don’ts tips for three-legged pups at the park will put your worries to rest.

Tripawds like Wyatt at dog parks with four legged dogs
Wyatt and friends at a dog park.

Do’s and Don’ts Tips for Tripawds at Dog Parks

Taking a Tripawd to the dog park is a happy day for many of us. It reminds us that our dog can enjoy living life and doing favorite activities. But before you head to your favorite dog park, please remember these tips for Tripawds at dog parks:

DO wait until your veterinary team gives you the nod to go to the dog park.

Ideally, you’ll get activity clearance from your canine rehabilitation therapist. Remember, your dog’s first rehab visit is free thanks to the Tripawds Foundation!

DON’T let your Tripawd run around until exhaustion sets in. The dog park is hard work and rehabilitation therapists tell us that the “explosive activity” dogs love, like chasing and running, can cause injury in Tripawds who aren’t strong enough.

DO require your Tripawd to take frequent leashed breaks. Help your dog avoid potential injuries by leashing up and making sure your hero has plenty of rest at the park.

DON’T make the dog park a weekends-only thing. Dogs are most prone to injury when they become weekend warriors. Help keep your Tripawd in shape with more frequent but shorter dog park visits.

Sometimes it’s tough to walk that line between allowing our Tripawd to just be a dog, versus setting them up for a bad injury. Most of us will make mistakes along the way (we sure did!). Proceed slowly and carefully if you want to take your Tripawd to the dog park again, and keep your canine rehabilitation team in the loop just in case your pup needs a strengthening boost from a professional.

Tripawd at dog park
Is it safe to take your Tripawd to a dog park?

When a dog loses a leg, do other dogs care?

We humans tend to worry about re-introducing our new Tripawd to other four-legged dogs. Concerns like:

  • Will other dogs attack my three-legged dog?
  • Do four-legged dogs think Tripawds are weak?
  • Can a Tripawd handle rough play at the dog park?

The truth is, most dogs don’t give any indication they know that a Tripawd is “different.” As for Tripawds, those who loved the dog park before amputation surgery, will probably still love it when recovery is over.

When our fearless founder Jerry lost his leg, we worried that he wouldn’t be able to handle the dog park or day care. He was an only child, and wrestling with other dogs after his surgery made us nervous. But he proved us wrong. Here’s what we discovered on the road in Asheville, North Carolina:

Through the years, we’ve learned that Jerry wasn’t the only Tripawd at the dog park who could hold his own. At a Colorado Tripawds party in 2010, a whole group of three-leggers showed people at the dog park that Tripawds rock!

Later, Wyatt Ray showed he could hold his own during playtime with the colossal Titus:

Another Tripawds member, Asher (aka Asherton Eugene Vincent von Tripod III, Esq.), showed us that the park can be a great place for dogs who enjoy that environment:

And before he went to the Rainbow Bridge recently, Arktik the three-legged Husky showed us that dogs with three legs are just as spunky as any at the dog park:

Here’s what Arktik’s mom shared with us about their experience at the park:

For the dog parks, it is an interesting question. My feeling is that dogs (and animals in general) do not care and do not even pay attention to it. It is all about the energy the dog is showing.

So I believe that they are acting with Arktik the same way they would have when he had 4 legs. They don’t pity each others like human do when they see our tripawds. Dogs treat Tripawds the same way they would with any other dogs.

I think if a new tripawds would have change in its personality a lot and had lost confidence a lot, maybe that would show for example at the dog park, not because of the missing leg but rather because the shift in its personality. — @arktik

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8 thoughts on “Is It OK to Take Tripawds to Dog Parks?”

  1. Thank you for posting about this, and all the good info! We have a happy 8 month-old lab-mix rescue cutie that loves to go to the dog park but many times when I take him, he gets ganged up on. Other dogs, even small ones often seem irritated by him and will bark aggressively at him in groups and nip when he tries to play or even when he’s just minding his business walking around. Today he got pounced on and almost bitten (not hurt) but he was very scared and I had to pull him out of a scuffle with a bigger dog. I thought earlier maybe it was because he was smaller/puppy energy but now that he’s almost full-sized (maybe 45lb?) it’s still happening. What about him could be striking a nerve with other doggos? He usually doesn’t bark at other dogs and is super friendly, but maybe it’s because he approaches pairs sometimes and behaves clumsily? Could it be that he sprints around sometimes wanting to be chased? Or because he is only half neutered (long story, but he didn’t get a complete operation, we recently found out)? I didn’t think it was the missing leg – as you wrote, other dogs probably don’t care – but now I’m not so sure. Do they see him as an easy target because he appears “wounded”?

    • @iggypup, you are welcome! That is a great question and you aren’t the first one who has asked it. We used to think that these dog park challenges were somehow tied to the pet parent’s anxiety about their dog getting beat up, and while that might be true, it does sound like there are other factors at play. Many dog experts don’t believe dog parks are the best way for any dog to socialize, Tripawd or not. Consider skipping them altogether and having smaller, more controlled play dates where he can be closely monitored and the other dogs too. You would just have so much more control in a smaller gathering than a dog park free for all. For many dogs this is the best way to pawty. Consider working with a trainer who understands the needs of Tripawds to arrange such an event. And keep us posted in the Forums, we would love to hear how it goes!

      • Thank you so much for the quick reply. I hope it doesn’t have to do with my own anxiety, but of course that may be contributing. Is this still the prevailing wisdom, even considering the other factors? I usually just let him do his thing! But I’ve found when I do get distracted and don’t watch him, he gets into even more trouble with other dogs behaving aggressively toward him. I just wish I knew if/how I should try to modify his behavior at the park – I want him to be able to just have fun with other dog friends. Smaller gatherings are probably a good way to go, so we’ll try to arrange that.

      • @iggypup, I think even the best canine behavior experts would say that yeah, we are partly responsible for how our pets react to certain situations. They tend to mirror our emotions, those little pet psychics! 😉

        He’s still a young guy and finding his ways. He will get to a place where he is more confident. One way you can do that is through rehab therapy. Ongoing work done by you at home in conjunction with a therapist can really build his confidence. Consider taking advantage of the Tripawds Foundation Rehab Reimbursement program so he can get there sooner! See:

  2. Just brought Cooper and his brother, Charlie Brown, to a dog park for the first time.
    They both did great! I know not to let Cooper get tired. The only problem is he’s ball-crazy and very possessive. Somebody had thrown a bunch of tennis balls around, so he was gathering them all up in a pile (yeah, he does that!) and then got a little snooty and snappy with a dog who wasn’t even going for a ball, she just wanted to say hi. So, we left. I brought Charlie back alone a few days later. It’s too bad he was so snooty about the ball, because it would be a great place to bring him for some moderate exercise. The humans didn’t even notice he was on three legs until about 10 minutes in! I do think that has to do with both dogs being twins, so they don’t notice immediately. Funny!

    • Kathy! It’s great to hear from you, I’m so glad Cooper and Charlie B are doing terrific! That’s awesome that Cooper does great at the dog park, mostly! Silly boy, doesn’t he know that’s no way to make friends? Thanks for the pupdate!

  3. Great tips/tricks! We did not take Eider to a dog park, since there wasn’t one nearby, but I would have had no hesitation. He had plenty of neighborhood friends and no dog every appeared to notice his missing leg. Typically, he was the “boss” dog in a group! LOL!

    • Aww it’s so good to see you here! I’m so hoppy you liked the article. And thank you for sharing Eider’s experience with other dogs, it’s so helpful for others to see that the “big deal” about being a Tripawd is really just a human thing 🙂


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