If you have visited dog parks with your dog, you may have noticed all of the different types of behavior that happens when dogs and humans socialize together. From minor scuffles to major dog fights when correct dog park etiquette is not observed many problems can arise. By following some simple guidelines and understanding when is a good time to leave, an off-leash dog park can be a great place for you and your dog.
Good Dog Park Etiquette
The first thing to do is to make sure you read the signs posted on the gates and around the dog park. You may find each dog park has different rules, knowing the rules before you enter the dog park and abiding by them will help you enjoy your visit. Here are some of the rules you may find posted.
- You are responsible for your dog and any behavior that your dog shows. If you have a dog that does not play well with other dogs a dog park may not be the best place for you and your dog.
- Your dog must be able to obey and come when you call him.
- When you enter and leave a dog park you may find there are two gates, this is to stop dogs from escaping. It is best to enter these gates one a time, however do not linger in between gates too long or this may cause issues with other dogs once your dog does enter the park.
- If your dog does show any type of aggression you will need to remove your dog from the dog park straight away. Staying to see if it was just a one off may cause more issues and is not good dog park etiquette.
- If your dog is on heat or is ill then taking them to the dog park is not a good idea.
- If your dog poops you will need to pick it up and dispose of it correctly.
Most of the above are basic guidelines when it comes to having good dog park etiquette, there are extra things you can do as an owner to ensure your dog has a safe and fun time at the dog park.
WALK THEM FIRST
If your dog tends to be excitable and have lots of energy, it is a good idea to get some of this out first. By going for a walk you may be able to get some of the energy out so that your dog enters the dog park in a calm manner.
If you know your dogs temperament is not suited for a dog park then it is a good idea to stay out of off-leash dog parks. Take your dog for a long walk or fun instead or get them involved in agility or flyball. If you yourself are tense or nervous around other dogs, the dogs will pick up on this, it may be best for you to not enter the dog park as well.
When you are at the dog park, you need to keep your full attention on your dog at all times. Looking at your phone or getting lost in conversation can cause you to lose track of your dog and this may result in bad behavior or dog fights starting. Watch your dog at all times it is good dog park etiquette and common sense.
DON’T BE FOOLED
What looks like playing is not always the case. It can be easy to mistake playing for fear and aggression. If someone is worried that your dog’s play is more than that, it is best to just remove your dog from the situation, likewise, if somebody else’s dog is getting carried away, ask the owner to remove their dog from whatever is going on. It is always better to err on the side of caution rather than breaking up a pack of dogs fighting.
BRING WATER, NOT FOOD
It is certainly good dog park etiquette to bring your own bowl and water for your dog. While water is fine, food should never be bought into an off-leash dog park. Dogs can become very territorial over treats and food.
KEEP THE LEASH OFF INSIDE THE PARK
This is important and often not understood. If other dogs are off leash and you bring a leashed dog into that area of the off-leash dog park, it can cause aggression to occur. When dogs are on a leash they can become protective of their owners, if other dogs come up to say hi, that protective mode can escalate quickly into a fight.