Visiting the dog park for the first time can be an overwhelming experience for the owner and the dog. If you’ve never been before, it’s important to understand that there are dog park rules and etiquette standards that people are expected to follow. The dog park is a place for dogs and their owners to have fun and socialize, but problems can arise for a number of reasons including behavior issues and owner inattentiveness. Follow the dog park tips below on rules and etiquette below, and you and your dog will be regulars in no time!

1)    Dog parks aren't for every dog. 
The term “dog park” is misleading for some individuals because they think that all dogs are welcome.  While we wish this was the case, not all dogs enjoy playing with other dogs.  If your dog often growls at or harasses other dogs despite your reprimands, it may be best to stay away from the park to ensure the safety of other dogs, your own dog and yourself.  There are plenty of other ways to keep your dog active and happy. 

2)    Know what you can handle. 
If you own multiple dogs, are a breeder, groomer, foster care provider, etc…you may be tempted to take all of your pups to the park at the same time.  However this might not be a good idea as owners are expected to remain attentive to their dog/s and you can avoid possible trouble by only taking as many dogs as you know you can handle in an environment where there will possibly be a great number of other dogs present.

3)    Be aware of the weather. 
Dogs can suffer from heat stroke and other heat related illnesses.  Make sure to bring plenty of water with you if it is hot outside, and keep an eye on your dog’s behavior to prevent dehydration.  Same goes for cold weather.

4)    Think twice before you bring a puppy. 
Most puppies younger than 3 months are too young to go to the dog park.  At this age, they are generally too tiny to handle the dog to dog interaction that goes on.  Also, if you do decide to bring your puppy, make sure he is vaccinated otherwise the dog park is a definite no-no.

5)    Be cautious when taking children with you.  Many children have a fear of dogs, and some think that taking them to the dog park will help combat this fear.  However, that is the worst way to take care of a fear of dogs.  Dog parks can often be chaotic (in a fun way) which can put a scared child in danger around dogs.  It is usually said that children over 12 should be okay in a dog park, but it ultimately depends on the child.  Before taking your child to the dog park, do not forget to teach them the basics of canine etiquette and the rules of animal interaction.

6)    Always be prepared with bags. 
Sometimes considered dog park rule number 1! Just because you are in a dog park doesn’t make it okay to leave your dog’s poop behind. Dog parks need to be kept clean and safe for humans and pets to be in, so be respectful and clean up after your dog no matter what.

7)    Keep an eye on your dog at all times.
 
Dogs can get themselves into trouble even if they are obedient at home.  Remember to close the gate behind you when you enter to prevent your dog and other dogs from escaping.  Make sure you have a leash on hand and that your dog wears a collar.

The most important thing to consider is your dog’s personality before going to the dog park.  If you haven’t already, you might want to introduce him to one or two dogs beforehand to make sure he can handle being around multiple other animals at once.  Always be prepared with necessary items like a leash, poop bags and plenty of water.  Never bring food or toys to the dog park with you as it could provoke misbehavior or even fighting.  You want the dog park to be a pleasant experience, so try as hard as possible to prepare yourself. Understand your dog's unique temperment and pesonality, univeral etiquette standards AND your local dog park rules. Be prepared and you and your pup can become lifers at the dog park.

 

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