Are you thinking of visiting the dog park? A canine gathering is wonderful if everyone remembers their manners. Polite behavior, alongside personal respect, is essential when a group of people and dogs get together. Read on to learn great dog park etiquette and how to achieve it.
When you visit the dog park the first thing to remember is that you are responsible for the behavior of your dog. No matter how he/she chooses to interact, the overall responsibility is yours. Just as if he were a child in the playground – because after all, for many of us, our dogs are like our children, right?
Dog Park Manners – Etiquette Explained
- When entering the dog park, open the gate carefully. There are usually many dogs running around – leaving the gate open too long may encourage an escape!
- Take caution when nearing a dog that is on leash. The dog may be experiencing barrier frustration or fear and if any dog bounds up to him while he is one of these emotional states, it may trigger an aggressive reaction.
- Watch the behavior of other dogs carefully – look out for bullying by your dog or others. You can see this when one dog doesn’t want to continue the interaction and the other just keeps coming. Some basic research on canine behavior will prepare you to read dog-to-dog communication and we highly recommend it for both fascination and safety.
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- It’s okay to bring along a toy if there is ample space in the park or you are alone with your dog. But, be very selective in whether or not it’s a good time to play. Toys create natural competition between dogs (so does food in the dog park, sometimes even water). Don’t expect other dogs to leave your toy alone just because you were the one who brought it!
- Always pick up after your dog, no-one wants to step in a stinky mess.
- Don’t feed treats to someone else’s dog without their permission, the dog could be allergic or dieting. You could also be ruining their recall.
- A little roughness and growling is normal – but keep an eye out for escalating intensity in physical contact or vocalizations, chest bumping while standing on the hind legs, and chasing or pinning a dog that doesn’t want to play anymore. You want to let your dog be a dog, but you also don’t want to be naïve. Learn the difference between play and conflict that can turn serious. Group fights can be very dangerous.
- Match your dog up with a playmate that seems to have the same style. How do you know? If both dogs keep coming back to each other to play, they are probably a great match.
A properly socialized and well-managed dog can make it fun everyone in the dog park, including of course himself. A doggy diplomat knows to greet newcomers with a little space, and how to have fun with the “regulars” in the park who want to play.
The added bonus of the dog park is that you get to hang with like-minded dog lovers whilst your four-legger plays his paws off. Ideally, your dog gets in enough exercise and social time to ensure he comes home truly happy and exhausted. A tired dog is better behaved – and that will make you happy, too.