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Dog Park Etiquette

   

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Dog parks are supposed to be playground heaven for our furry friends, but badly-behaved dogs (and humans) can quickly turn a fun day into a disaster. Here are some tips to ensure that your next dog park visit is a happy, safe and successful one:
  1. Pick up after your dog. If you’re unlucky enough to have stepped in a pile of dog waste, you’ll know that it can put a definite dampener on your mood. Picking up after your dog is the number one rule of pet etiquette when taking your pet to not only the park, but any public place. Aside from how unpleasant it is to step in, it can also pose a health risk to your dog if they touch, roll in it or eat it. Dog waste contains parasites and sometimes even diseases, so it is crucial that you clean up after your pup has done its ‘business.’ Ensure that you carry recyclable plastic bags and a scooper whenever you leave the house with your dog.
  2. Take the leash off in no-leash parks. It is highly unadvisable to take your dog to a dog park if he or she is unable to walk off lead. In some instances, dog owners may feel more comfortable keeping their dog on lead, believing that they will be able to control the dog more easily. This false sense of security for the owner contrasts with the dog’s leash-related insecurity that comes from him knowing that he can’t escape from a tense situation if he needs to. Keeping your dog on a leash around dogs that are off lead can trigger fights and anxiety in your pet.
  3. If your dog isn’t trained, don’t bring him! This is possibly the most important rule of all. If your dog isn’t trained to recall, you could be asking for disaster. Your dog should be well trained enough to come to you if you call him even while he is in the middle of a game of chase or an interaction that is getting heated. Taking a dog with poor or no recall skills to a dog walk park can put him and other dogs in danger.
  4. Don’t let your pet be rude. Even the most well-socialised dogs can behave badly from time to time. It is imperative that you watch your dog at all times to ensure he is not socialising in a way that could be deemed aggressive or inappropriate by other dogs. Don’t allow your dog to run up to a new arrival at full speed, to mount other dogs as a sign of dominance, or to continue sniffing at a dog that is clearly uncomfortable. Be aware of bullying too – if your dog is constantly trying to initiate play with a dog who is not interested, or is becoming increasingly rough with wrestle play, it is time to recall him. By ensuring your pooch is polite and amiable, you can avoid nasty interactions and even fights.
  5. Keep puppies under 12 weeks of age at home as well as dogs with incomplete vaccinations. There are already many diseases and parasites your pet may be exposed to at a dog park, but older puppies and fully immunized adult dogs will be able to fend them off. Puppies under 12 weeks of age or dogs that aren’t fully immunized may not be able to fight off common diseases found in the general dog population. It is vital to your pet’s safety that it is kept well away from dog parks until it is older and has a more robust immune system, or until it is fully vaccinated.
In addition to the tips above, it is also important to bear in mind that it is a huge no-no to bring a bitch on heat to a dog park, or any public place where she may be exposed to off-leash dogs. Owners of small dogs should avoid picking their pet up if they believe conflict is arising, as this can trigger a ‘chase’ response in other dogs.

With some manners, patience and your undivided attention, both you and your dog can have many great days out at your local dog walk park.

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