Dog parks are a great way for your dog to get some serious exercise and to interact with other dogs. Every community has its rules and guidelines, and dog parks are communities.
Here are few dog park etiquette tips to keep in mind:
1. Keep an eye out
Keep an eye on both your dog and your surroundings. This will keep your dog safe and the other dogs and owners around you. Make sure your dog is comfortable at all times and always within sight. Though many dog parks are fenced in and secure, you should still make sure to watch over your dog. You’ll be amazed by what they can climb, dig through, or shimmy under when they feel uncomfortable, scared, or just bored.
2. Go for a walk before the dog park
Go for a regular walk and then go to the dog park as a special treat. This way your dog will not be hyperactive and annoying to other dogs and owners. If you can, you should also play fetch alone so you do not have to worry about your dog becoming over-excited or over-stimulated during the visit. After you get home, your dog will be more than happy to get some food, have a drink of water, and pass out peacefully on the couch.
3. Bring water for you and your dog
Many different dog parks offer water fountains for you and your dog. However, some don’t. Just in case, always bring water for you and your dog. That way, they won’t become overheated or uncomfortable while hanging out with their buds.
4. Leave the park if your pup is timid, scared, or being intimidated
Sometimes dogs, like people, don’t always get along. If your dog is nervous, uncomfortable, or just isn’t having a good time, it is time to leave. At the first sign of anxiety, you should leash up and head home. They will appreciate being taken out of an awkward or uncomfortable situation and you will be happy to avoid a possibly dangerous setting.
5. Make sure your pup is in good health
Always, always, always keep your dog up-to-date on shots, vet visits, and vaccinations. This way your dog will stay healthy and happy throughout their lifetime and you will not run the risk of harming other pets.
6. Pick up after your dog
It seems obvious, but not everyone does it. Keep plenty of waste bags with you and pick up after your dog. No one wants to smell it, step in it, or deal with it. Plus, you could risk a ban from the dog park for violating the community rules and guidelines by not picking up after your dog.
7. Train your dog
Make sure your dog is good at re-call commands, sharing, and other commands to keep them from putting themselves or others into dangerous or uncomfortable situations. You may want to hire a trainer if you haven’t trained a dog before or simply need a refresh. This will make your time at the dog park more fun for you and your dog.
8. Don’t let your pup be a bully
If your dog is harming, intimidating, or harassing other dogs, end it quickly and definitively. Take your dog out of the situation temporarily or remove them from the park for the day, if necessary. If it happens more than once, it is time to retrain your dog to avoid your pup harming or scaring other dogs.
If your dog exhibits a behavioral trend of being a bully in the dog park, do not take him there until you’ve gone through training and socialization to stop the negative behavior. Dog parks tend to demand a certain amount of decorum from owners and dogs who use it. Some dog parks are membership-only and require behavioral testing prior to granting membership. Make sure your dog is able to pass the test before letting him interact with other dogs.
9. Save the human snacks for later
Don’t bring your lunch or snacks to the dog park. Many dogs will beg, bark, and try to get the food out of your hands. Just wait until you’re home to eat or have a snack beforehand.
10. Study canine body language
Finally, study canine body language and learn the behaviors indicating anxiety or potential aggression specific to your dog. This allows you to be more aware of your dog’s comfort level and the level of comfort for the other pups. It will help you avoid fights, bites, and other situations that could be dangerous.