Dog parks are a great way for your pets to get exercise and work on socialization. It’s also convenient for pet owners without backyards or adequate walk routes within their neighborhoods. If you already frequent dog parks or you’re thinking of bringing your dog to one, it’s important to remember a handful of proper etiquette tips with Fifi and Fido in mind. After all, being considerate will not only ensure you’re welcome back, but that everyone stays safe.
1. Doggie Disposition
If your dog’s a first timer to a dog park be sure to take your pet’s disposition into consideration before going. He or she may not be able to handle it. If they don’t or can’t play well with others or bark at strangers, you should probably hold off until they’ve had further training. The experience should be fun, not stressful.
2. Picking Up After your Pets
This should be a no-brainer, and it really can’t be stressed enough, but pick up after your pets when nature calls. It’s simply good manners, and it can help halt the spread of illness. Bring whatever you’ll need — bags, scoopers, gloves — because the park might not always have those items.
3. No Pressure
Don’t be a micromanager. Let your pet enjoy the area as he or she wants. If they’re not initially playing with other bowsers, that’s okay. Don’t try and force or pressure them into doing so. They’ll get there in their own time. Remember, they may just want to sniff around and get acquainted first. Let them explore. Every canine is different.
4. On or Off Leash?
The general rule of thumb is if your dog responds readily to commands you can let them off leash in an un-fenced park. Otherwise, it’s not recommended. In a fenced in off-leash dog park let your dog run free, as long as they’ll behave. Not allowing them to do so when other dogs are running loose can sometimes cause anxiety or trigger aggression. Whether they’re on or off leash, keep your eyes on them at all times.
5. Remain Vigilant
While you hate to be a helicopter parent, pay attention to rough housing and escalating play. If you notice the activity is starting to get a little too intense, break it up. Dogs can get amped when they’re focused in play mode. This can lead to unintentional harm, especially with older dogs and puppies, and who needs the vet bill?
6. Unspayed or Neutered Animals
If your dog has not been fixed, monitor their location and interaction with the other dogs. Females in heat should be left at home. The last thing you want is an awkward accident.
7. Keeping the Peace
This can be difficult, but try and work with other dog owners at your local dog park towards keeping the visits peaceful and friendly. If you notice any bad behavior, either speak calmly with the other pet parents involved or leave to avoid problems. The most important thing about this is to remain respectful of other’s wishes. If another pet owner requests that you separate your dog from theirs, do it without an argument and do it the first time they ask. Don’t just shrug it off.
By following these tips you’ll not only keep peace at the park, but you’ll help create and maintain a safe, fun environment in the process.