The following guest post comes from Kadee G.:
While dog parks are the ultimate playgrounds for pups to play off-leash without a glaring eye from mom and dad, bad habits and doggie disputes can break out fast. Luckily, most people are aware if their dog is socialized in a public manner, keeping all-out brawls on the low side of the scale. However, a few bad experiences, for pet and owner alike, can keep newbie dog park-ers at bay while others are blissfully/obliviously unaware.
So who’s responsible for the spats or the rough housing? The fresh pile of doo unattended? What are the etiquette rules to follow? Below is a list of some doggie do’s and don’ts to help the newbies stay on the right track and the good side of the regulars.
Disclaimer: Some of the pointers may sound obvious, even common sense, but I wouldn’t add them if I hadn’t seen them myself. Read on.
1. Scoop your poop. If you don’t, the poop gods will get you. And trust me, it’s not fun to clean the doo from the bottom of your multi-indented sneakers.
2. Don’t bring food. And no, this is not obvious to everyone. What’s worse, people get annoyed/irritated when they’re swarmed by a dog pack wanting a piece of their Subway sandwich. So just don’t.
3. On that note, when you have treats, expect to be followed and totally sucked up to. They can sniff you out a mile away. It’s okay to have them, sometimes even necessary to get Fido back from the pack, but just expect that you’ll get beggars. And if you feel the urge, make sure it’s okay by the owner to give their pooch a treat . . . not all will want it.
4. Don’t leave the wee (human) ones unattended. Most dog parks are wide open spaces and dogs, by nature, are hunters and even as a puppies will chase anything that moves. A small child, running at a distance in the wide open looks more like prey than a human being. At best, keep the kiddies an arm’s length away. Which leads me to my next point . . .
5. This is not a park! Bring your kids, of course. It’s great socialization, but never forget this is a DOG PARK. It is meant for the dogs to run and play, it’s not a community park. Not all dogs are kid friendly and as long as they’re in the correct space for their behavior, you should respect that.
6. Digging is rude. The dog park isn’t the place to be a passive owner and chit chat with fellow dog lovers. You have to watch your dog like you would your child. Make sure they’re safe, playing nice and not ruining the property that everyone enjoys. If you don’t let them do it at home, don’t let them do it at the park.
7. If your dog is shy, small or young, it may not be able to handle the flurry of excited pups ready to meet and kiss their face or tangle with the rough-housers rolling around. If this is the case, seek out places that accommodate the shy and quiet types. Dogs do play hard and that’s okay. But it’s also not for everyone so find a park that caters to your pup’s needs.
8. If you don’t want your dog’s brand new ball/toy stolen, the dog park is not the place to bring it! Know that other dogs will chase the ball you throw, will jump at the toy in your hand and will often steal the ball from your dog to get a reaction and entice a game of chase. It’s not always right or respectful on the thief’s (or their owner’s) behalf but it happens. Fair warning.
9. Be aware of your dog’s level of roughness. Again, the park is not the place to be an innocent bystander, you have to watch your dog. If it’s bullying or playing too rough for a submissive or young pup, be weary. Find the owner and make sure that it’s okay that your dog play in that manner. If not, get your dog’s attention on something else e.g., you, a ball, a new dog.
10. Most importantly, don’t bring brand new babies (anything under four months) to play with the big boys. It may be tough not to bring the newest member of your family to show off and introduce to the neighborhood “kids” but if they’re too young and/or do NOT have their complete puppy shots – you need to wait. It’s your dog’s safety that matters.
In most areas, the dog park circle is small. Very small. If you let your dog go rampant, disrespect the rules or worse, others, you’ll be remembered and talked about for a while. No person wants that and no pup wants blackballed from the local hang out. My list of ten is just a shallow dive into the “proper dog park protocol and procedure”.
Dog park people – they’re usually friendly. If you don’t know, just ask . . . my guess is they’re more than willing to help out.
Check out and follow @kadeeirene on twitter!