Dog Park “Petiquette”
Off leash dog parks are havens for energetic or social pups in need of room to romp, especially if you have a small yard or no yard at all! These wide open arenas give dogs a place to be themselves as well as freedom off the leash. However, to keep parks fun and safe for all visitors on both four legs and two, there are a few simple rules of paw to follow before you visit.
Check the rules.
Not all parks are dog parks, and most cities and states have strict leash laws that will lead to tickets and fines if you don’t comply. Verify that your dog is allowed to be off a leash within specific areas before untying the tether. Also, once in a dog park, make sure your canine stays in the right playground for his or her size.
Make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date.
Unfortunately, dog parks can be major nesting grounds for worms and other parasites, so make sure your animal is current on all anti-worm medications and other basic vaccines. Your dog should also have a Bordetella vaccine to protect them against kennel cough, which is easily spread from dog to dog. Consult your local pet clinic about your animal’s overall health before visiting a park to protect the safety of both your pet and other animals
Dog parks are a place for dogs to relax, but that doesn’t mean bringing them to one makes you an off-the-clock pet parent. Pay attention to your animal and always check that they are safe, happy and not behaving aggressively toward other dogs. Don’t talk on your cell phone or do work—give your dog your full attention.
Keep treats out of it.
The presence of food makes most dogs possessive and aggressive. Don’t give your dog or other dogs treats inside the dog park, especially since many animals have diet restrictions. Instead, save treats as rewards for tricks or good behavior outside the park. The same goes for toys, which can quickly cause skirmishes or fights if one dog becomes protective or possessive of their resources or tries to take away your pet’s toys.
Know your pet’s temperament.
Some dogs are just more aggressive, so if you know your pet has trouble playing well with others, keep them out of the off-leash park. Ask your local animal hospital for advice on how to help your dog manage and move past their aggression; your family animal surgeon will likely have behavioral recommendations or can refer you to a reputable trainer to help Fido growl less and play more.
Don’t be afraid to head home if things aren’t working.
If your dog is being bullied or picking up bad manners from other animals, it’s okay to call it a day and leave the park. Don’t feel like you have to push your dog to be social or have off leash experiences. Dogs are happy to spend time with you and take walks on the leash, so if your dog just isn’t having fun, it’s okay to try again another day or just be loyal leash enthusiasts.
Clean up after your pet!
Picking up your pet’s waste is the golden rule of pet parenting. Bring your own waste bags, many of which are environmentally friendly (link to their favorite brand), and pick up your dog’s waste as soon as it hits the ground.
For more tips on the Do’s and Don’ts of enjoying the dog park, check out this helpful article from the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.