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Dog Ownership Etiquette Series: Dos and don’ts at the park

Dog Ownership Etiquette Series: Dos and don’ts at the park

Dog Ownership Etiquette Series: Dos and don’ts at the park

Going to the dog park with your dog is something that just never gets old! There are so many positive impacts that it has including giving your dog the opportunity to socialize with other dogs, plenty of exercise and a chance to roam freely without a worry in the world. On the other hand, it’s also a great experience for dog owners! It’s a source of exercise for us and it can have great social benefits like providing a chance to meet new people. When you’re preparing to go to the dog park, there are some things you should do and some things you should avoid. To help you have the best experience at the dog park, we’ve compiled a list of dos and don’ts as part of our Dog Ownership Etiquette Series.

Do follow the rules

Once you’ve arrived at the park, it’s important to familiarize yourself with that specific location’s guidelines. Usually you can find the rules posted near the entrance of the park and it will highlight things like whether or not it’s an off leash location, if balls are prohibited etc. If you are at an off leash dog park, always make sure you keep your pup leashed until you’re in the enclosed area. Once you’ve entered the park, make sure you take the leash off immediately before letting your dog run around but always keep the collar on them.

Don’t bring your dog to the park if…

If you have a puppy, it’s best to wait until they’re fully grown before bringing them to the dog park. Puppies aren’t fully trained when it comes to interacting with other dogs so bringing them to an off leash area with tons of stranger dogs could be a recipe for disaster. Once your dog is fully grown and has had all required vaccinations, you can start bringing them to the park. This is to keep your dog safe as well as other dogs. Next, if your dog is not spayed or neutered, bringing them to the dog park is irresponsible. If your female dog is in heat and you bring her to the park, it will distract the other dogs and potentially cause a fight. Lastly, don’t bring your dog to the park if they are aggressive or if they interact badly with other dogs. Being well-trained is essential for your dog when it comes to settings like parks.

Do pay attention to your dog at all times

Sometimes lots can be going on at the dog park which can make things distracting. Try to stay off of your cell phone while you’re at the park and if you’re talking with other dog owners, always be sure to keep an eye on your dog in the background. It’s imperative that you know what your dog is doing at all times because in a split second things can change.

Don’t let your dog do these things at the park

If your dog is causing mayhem at the park, it’s because you have allowed that. There are some things that you simply shouldn’t do such as let your dog take a toy from another dog. Sometimes people will bring their dog’s favourite toy to the park (also something that should be avoided) and if your dog gets a hold of it, it could stress out the other dog and in turn could cause a fight. While it’s fine to let your dog play with other dogs, you should be cautious. If you notice your dog’s playfulness turning into aggression, it’s time to remove your dog from the situation. Dogs like to play and sometimes it can get out of hand so being alert is essential. If there is a situation where your dog is acting out, you can try redirecting him to a different area of the park with fewer dogs. If the behaviour continues, it might be best to pack up and try out a different dog park.

Do come prepared

Before going to the dog park, create a simple checklist. This should include poop bags, water and a portable bowl, identification tags and in some cases a ball if your dog enjoys fetch. Poop bags are essential because you always need to clean up after your dog at all times, but especially in the dog park. You don’t want to be the reason someone else steps in poop and has to leave! Water is also an essential because if your dog is running around, they’re going to get thirsty very quickly. And while there are sometimes communal water bowls at the park, I don’t recommend letting your dog drink out of them because they can sometimes hold harmful bacterias and they’re not fresh. Dog tags for identification purposes are also important to attach to your dog’s collar. In the unfortunate event that they escape the dog park and become lost, having a tag will greatly improve your chances of finding them quickly. Lastly, balls can sometimes be a good addition to the outing but sometimes it’s better to leave them at home. I always like to assess the situation upon arriving and if the park is nearly empty and there’s plenty of open space, bringing out the ball to play fetch could be fun! On the other hand, if you arrive at the park and it’s packed full of dogs and people, it might be stimulating enough for your dog and adding their ball into the mix could mean they get defensive or jealous when another dog grabs it, because that will definitely happen!

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Don’t bring food

While you might think that having some treats in your pocket to reward good behaviour at the park is a good idea, it’s not. Other dogs may catch onto the fact that you have treats and that could make them jealous of your dog. Instead, ensure your dog has a full stomach when you arrive at the park and wait to reward them with treats until you get home.

Have fun

Lastly, remember to have fun! The dog park is meant to be a place for dogs to just be dogs. It can be daunting for first timers and even experienced owners because there is a lot going on. But just try to stay within your comfort zone and if that means visiting the park during off-times when there’s barely anyone there, that’s fine! You can do this and gradually start visiting at busier times. Just pay attention to how your dog is feeling and how you’re feeling. If you’re nervous, you can always bring a friend to come with you. Dog parks can have great impacts on your dog when it comes to exercising, socializing and so much more!

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