Knowing the right dog park etiquette can make all the difference between a fun, happy outing and a couple of hours of stress. Pet parents and dogs alike love going to their local dog park. As long as everyone plays by the rules, humans and dogs will have a great time. Here are
a few tips to help make sure that happens.
Dog Park Etiquette: The Dog Park Can Be Super Fun (Or Stressful If Everyone Doesn’t Play Nice)
There are thousands of dog parks across the country. Rules can vary from park to park. In general, though, your park will probably have the following requirements.
- You will be expected to take care of your dog’s “business.” Keep a close eye on your pup, and have a poop bag ready just in case you need to do a little cleanup.
- Your furry friend should be spayed or neutered. If you have a female who isn’t spayed, she will not be allowed inside the park if she is in heat.
- You must have a well-behaved dog. If your pet is aggressive or has a history of aggression toward humans or other dogs, you will be asked to leave. (Play it safe and don’t bring a dog with a history of aggression to the dog park).
- Every dog in the park must be supervised at all times.
- Off-leash dog parks will often prohibit children 8 years of age or younger from being allowed to enter.1
Common Mistakes Pet Parents Make When They Take Their Dogs To The Dog Park
As you can tell, there are a lot of do’s and don’ts when it comes to dog parks. The vast majority of pet owners follow these rules. They’ll keep their pets on a leash and pay close attention to their behavior.
There are, however, some instances where pet parents aren’t as observant of the rules as they should be. Here are a few common mistakes you should avoid.
- Bringing a puppy – Puppies are usually not equipped to be at a dog park until they are at least four months old. This is not the place to try and socialize a pup. Many puppies also don’t have all their vaccinations, which is a must at a dog park. Your vet can let you know when it will be okay for your pup to visit the dog park for the first time.
- Bringing a favorite toy – Dogs can get very possessive of a prized toy. They tend to not show good manners when another pooch gets within sniffing distance. Your dog might exhibit aggressive behavior if another dog gets too close, so keep their favorite toys at home.
- Being distracted – You have to pay close attention to your dog at all times. If you spend a lot of time on your phone, or you decide to bring a book, it could lead to big trouble. Don’t leave your dog unattended at the dog park – even for a few seconds – especially if they’re off-leash.2
Your Dog, Your Responsibility: Follow The Dog Park Rules And Don’t Allow Aggressive Behavior
The most important thing you can do when at a dog park is to always watch out for signs of aggression. Now, some behaviors are normal. For instance, dogs will typically play bow to each other, wrestle a little bit, or sniff each other. Even a slight bit of barking or growling isn’t unusual.
Sometimes, a younger pooch might annoy an older one. The older dog may look like they’re going to bite. This may just be a warning – a way to teach the younger dog about boundaries.
There are instances, however, where you’ll be able to spot clear signs of a potential problem. For example, if a group of dogs starts to chase your pooch, you’ll need to intervene. If you see a dog fight happening, get your pup out of harm’s way. If your dog starts to act aggressively, put the leash on and leave the park right away so they know that is bad behavior.3
Can’t Get Your Dog To Obey At The Park? Tips On How To Choose A Dog Trainer
If your dog simply won’t behave when you go to the dog park, it might be time to consider bringing in a professional. Seek out a trainer in your area. Here are a couple of tips to help.
First of all, stay away from trainers who use any type of punishment. This can lead to a lot of anxiety and fear. Problem behavior may stop, but only temporarily. If a trainer alternates punishment with rewards, that can eventually make your dog even more anxious.
Instead, look for professionals who employ a rewards-based form of training. This will typically involve positive reinforcement – rewarding a dog for good behavior, rather than punishing a dog for bad behavior.4
Could Your Dog Be Acting Up Due To A Medical Issue?
If you’re having a hard time dealing with your dog’s behavior – whether it’s at the dog park or at home – there could be a medical reason why this is happening. These are just a few examples of unruly behavior that could be due to a medical issue.
- Excessive barking – If your dog is barking too much, that could be a sign that some sort of injury has occurred. Have a vet examine your dog to see if that might be the case.5
- Unusual Howling – Howling can also be a sign of an injury. Or it could mean your dog is suffering from some sort of illness. Again, have a vet examine your pet to see what’s going on.6
- Destroying the furniture or other things in the home – This could be a sign of separation anxiety. If your dog tends to act up when you’re not home, you might want to consider speaking with a canine behaviorist.7
Following The Dog Park Rules Benefits Everybody
Keeping your dog on a leash and watching for aggressive dog behavior is just a couple of dog park rules every pet parent should follow. If everyone follows the rules, the dog park will be a great place for all.