Written By: Olivia Connatser CPDT-KA

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 As a professional dog trainer, I am more strict with rules for my dog than the typical dog owners. Because I work in the dog industry, I have heard and seen many cases of behavioral and medical problems stemming from the scenarios I am going to discuss in this post. I am hyper aware of my dog’s safety and well being, and these three things that I never let my dog do are things that I wish every dog owner would consider. I will also provide simple, great alternatives to these problems.


The first thing I will never do with my dog is go to a dog park. The dog park may seem like a great idea from the outside and there are many aspects about it that are appealing to dog owners, which I totally understand. However, there are many problems and issues that can arise from dog parks and it’s important to consider those risks before taking your dog to a dog park.

The first problem is that while it may seem like a good way for your dog to play and “socialize” with other dogs, this isn’t actually the case. It is very abnormal for a large group of unfamiliar dogs to be expected to get along and play well together. Typical dog owners don’t know much, if anything, about dog body language so what can look like friendly play between dogs isn’t always the case. I personally don’t trust strangers at a dog park to be aware of their dog’s behavior and judgement on if their dog should even be there in the first place, and I certainly would not put my dog into a situation where she could be harmed or have a very negative experience.

Aside from the potential for dog fights and injuries, dog parks also come with the risk of disease. While most parks have signs posted telling owners to pick up after their dog and only bring dog’s that are fully vaccinated, there is no enforcement or proof required on this. For puppies or dogs with health problems, this could be a fatal decision.

The third main reason I don’t allow my dog to go to dog parks is because of the behavioral issues it can cause. For dog’s who have a negative experience at a dog park, this can cause fear and anxiety which can lead to bad feelings about other dogs and reactivity. This can be very difficult to work through and will require extensive training and behavioral modification. For dog’s who get over aroused and over excited about the dog park, this can lead to frustration and difficulty relaxing in the presence of other dogs and people. This also requires a lot of training and work.

Alternatives to Dog Parks

It’s important to note that I’m not saying your dog shouldn’t interact with other dogs at all. Good, healthy play can be a great way for your dog to burn off some energy and exercise, but it should be done carefully and selectively. I opt for doggy play dates with friends who have dogs that would be a good match for my dog’s play style. I know my own dog’s body language and play preferences, so I only allow her to play with dog’s that are similar and who I know are going to be a good, safe option. Sniffspot is a great app to use to rent backyards or property to meet up for doggy playdates with friends, or even for your dog to have alone time off leash exploring and sniffing.


Something I see almost everyday that really makes me nervous is dogs riding loose in the car. As cute as it is, this is incredibly dangerous not only for your pup, but for your safety as well. When you are driving with the window down and your dog is sticking their head out of the car, there is a risk of debris or other items hitting your dog’s head and causing injuries. I have also heard stories of dogs jumping through even the smallest opening in a window and falling into traffic or running away. This is absolutely avoidable and I wish more people were aware of those risks.

By letting your dog ride unrestrained in the car, you are also putting them and yourself at risk of injury or death should you be involved in an accident. First, a loose dog can be a major distraction for the driver. Second, if you are involved in an accident and your dog is not restrained, any of these things could happen:

  • Your dog becomes a projectile which can be fatal for them, or you.
  • Your dog escapes your vehicle and runs away or sustains secondary injuries.
  • Your dog bites first responders or other citizens trying to help. Even the friendliest of dogs can bite in a stressful situation.

Alternatives to Riding Loose in the Car

There are many easy ways for your dog to safely ride in the car. From harness seatbelt attachments to crates, there are many options to choose from. I personally use a Ruff Land Kennel which is one of the safest, and most affordable performance kennels on the market. A crash tested crate is the safest option, because it keeps your dog contained in a small space and the kennel is going to prevent them from flying around the car or being crushed. It also keeps them secured in the car so they can’t escape and prevents them from biting people.

 Below is the photo of my car crate set up. I have a size large Ruff Land Kennel with a pad in the bottom and I have ratchet straps holding it in place. I attached a fan on the side door, and I also put a fan in front of the other door to provide air flow. Next to my dog’s crate, I keep a folder with her recent medical records, contact information, and her vet’s information in case of emergency. My dog rides in the car almost daily, so I put a lot of money and work into this set up. However, your set up doesn’t have to be as substantial. Any sort of restraint at all is better than nothing, so find something that works for you and your dog to keep them safe!


Chewing is a natural behavior for dogs, so giving them things they are allowed to chew on and eat is a great way to enrich your dog’s life. There are many benefits to chewing such as cleaning their teeth, relieving boredom and satisfying their natural desire to chew, but you want to choose chews that are safe for your dog.

For a long time, rawhide was a very popular chew item for dogs. It’s relatively cheap and long-lasting, but over the years we have learned of the dangers of rawhide. Dogs who are heavy chewers can rip off large pieces of the rawhide and this can cause a major choking hazard, as well as the potential to block their intestines which requires surgery to fix. These are both life threatening risks, and most dog trainers and vets advise against using rawhide.

Alternatives to Rawhide

Although rawhide is not a good chew option to give your dog, there are plenty of other safe products available! Some of my favorites include:

These products are all fully digestible, safe chews that I use with my own dog.

Note – With any chew item, be sure to supervise your dog for safety purposes.

We all want to make the best decisions for our pets to keep them safe and happy. These three rules that I follow are in place to keep my dog’s physical and mental well being as best as it can be, and I hope this inspires you to think about different things you can do to keep your pet safe and happy!