Dog park etiquette is something that many people never think about, unless they visit a dog park. There are many people that do not clean up after their pet, bring dogs that are not comfortable in their surroundings, and leave their dogs unsupervised. These are only a few of the instances I have witnessed in the dog parks I have visited.
My dogs and I frequent the dog park a few times a week. In this doggie safe place we find many things happening that are not supposed to occur. These issues are not the fault of the dogs; they are a result of the owners’ lack of attention or even energy. Most of the others in the park notice these happenings and, like myself, say nothing. Enjoying fresh air and playing fetch should never include correcting others.
My hope is that this article of dog park etiquette will be printed out and posted at dog parks across America. Before listing the rules of etiquette and common sense, I would like to take a moment to remind all dog park visitors that these rules, while easily broken, exist for the health and safety of the precious animals and their owners.
TOP 10 DOG PARK RULES FOR HUMAN VISITORS:
1. Please remove waste as soon as your animal has a bowel movement. Nobody likes to step in dog feces. Some dogs may eat the waste left behind, creating a health issue.
2. If your dog has never been to the dog park, please choose a time when the park is not crowded for the first few visits. This new environment can be very stressful to your dog and cause him to behave differently than usual. I cannot tell you how many times a person tells me that their dog has never acted out before visiting the dog park.
3. Dogs play rough sometimes. Before visiting the park, be sure that you and your dog are ready for that type of play. Some people stop their dogs from having a good time because they over react to the seemingly violent play.
4. Never leave your dog alone.
5. If you want quality time alone with your dog, this is not the place to get it. Playing fetch is a group sport in any dog park, and the ball you bring may get destroyed.
6. Do not bring toys that are special to your dog. These can cause fights and your dog will not like having other scents now on his toy.
7. Most dog parks are meant to have free running dogs. Many of them request that you remove your dog from their leash before entering the second gate. (There are 2 gates to ensure no escapes are made). Please follow this rule. It can be dangerous for you and your dog if you leave him on a leash. He will be territorial and defensive, especially if he is the ONLY dog on a leash.
8. Do not bring food or treats with you. Some people like to bring treats with them and reward their dog’s good behavior. While this is a great gesture, in this environment it can become a fight over food. Reward Rufus when you reach your car or home.
9. If you bring your children with you, keep them close. They can get knocked over by the dogs. They do not usually get hurt, but startling them and the dogs is not a good thing.
10. If your dog becomes violent, remove him IMMEDIATELY. While some fights are easily broken up, they can escalate if all parties are still present. Bring Rufus home and let him calm down. This shows him that this is not acceptable and also removes you both from the dangerous situation.
Like everything else in life, getting optimal results requires work. If everyone follows the rules, there should be peace, harmony, and happy dogs everywhere if these rules are honored.