A friend of mine recently had an incident at a dog park in which her pup was bitten by another dog park goer & required stitches. Very scary situation! With that in mind, I thought it might be helpful to pass along the following article for dog park etiquette:
Article By: Brad Kriser
Whether you’re in chilly Chicago or sunny SoCal, a dog park is always 1 of the best places to enjoy quality time w/your furry friends. But there are some basic courtesies, safety tips & unwritten rules you should keep in mind before heading out to the perfect outdoor hound heaven near you.
(1) Be ready to clean up after your pet. 1st, the obvious. It should go w/out saying, but always clean up after your pet. Please. Keep a roll of poop bags on you!
(2) Don’t walk your dog in on a leash. Seems counter-intuitive, but this is the fastest route to leash aggression — the tendency for some pets to get aggressive on a leash even when they typically aren’t. Why does this happen? It’s their natural fight or flight behavior coming to the surface. The leash prevents them from fleeing, so fighting it is. Letting them off leash allows for a more natural introduction to other animals. Just make sure you’re being safe when taking off the leash so your pup doesn’t flee. The best dog parks have a separate gated entry area where you can remove the leash & then go in.
(3) Only bring friendly pups. Speaking of aggression, don’t bring your dog unless you know he or she is friendly w/other humans & dogs. This is especially true of newly rescued pooches, who should be eased in gently. If you’re trying to work on aggression w/your dog, go at off times or find some friends to do a test introduction at home before bringing them to a high-energy, highly stimulating environment like a park. If you know your pet is aggressive, don’t put him or other dogs at risk—skip the park.
(4) Leave food & treats at home. Don’t take food or treats w/you. You’ve seen what happens when you shake the jerky bag. Imagine that w/multiple pets who don’t know each other. Treats can spark a brawl in the park environment, so it’s best to just keep them in the car. Same goes for any toys your pup wouldn’t want to share!
(5) Supervise your pup at all times. This is the time to play w/your pup & tire him out— so focus on him at the park. If you’re distractedly chatting or scrolling through your smartphone, you could miss out if your pup starts misbehaving, or if other dogs are behaving badly toward him.
(6) Get to know canine body language. If you can recognize fear, stress, playfulness & so forth in pups, you & your dog will do much better in public spaces like dog parks. Check out this guide to familiarize yourself w/common physical cues, so that you can recognize the difference between a playful pup & a threatening or aggressive 1: https://dogvacay.com/blog/decoding-your-dogs-body-language-in-any-situation/
(7) Pay attention to the park’s size designations. Many parks will have large & small dog areas. Don’t play above or below your pet’s weight class. Follow the local rules so we can all continue to enjoy these our local parks in piece.
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