It’s the season of fun and with the sun shining, everyone’s getting out of the house and heading to dog parks. No one wants to leave their dog at home all alone, but it is important to keep in mind the rules and etiquette of the places we bring dogs. Dog parks and beaches are a shared space for everyone to use. Respect and safety are important when we take our dogs to the park.
When to Take Your Dog Off the Leash
You will need to keep your dog on the leash until actually entering the designated area of dog parks where play is allowed. Look for parks with a double gate entrance. A well designed park will have one gate in which to enter a small area and then remove the leash. This is a good place to pause, calm your dog down, and observe the other dogs at play. If there are no scuffles and all the dogs are calm, this is the time enter the main play area of the park.
Pay Attention to All the Dogs in the Park
While your dog is playing it is a good idea to be constantly observing all the dogs in the park. When dogs are playing sometimes playful tussles break out and this fine. However, tussles can turn into a fight if behavior turns violent and lasts more than 3 seconds. If your dog is in a playing stance, with their fronts lowered ,and tails wagging, the tussle is playful. If hair is raised, teeth are showing, and tails are not wagging, this may be more serious. If a fight breaks out, do not immediately jump in. Fights usually settle themselves within a few seconds. If the fight continues lift your dog by the hind and separate them. Do not pull your dog away by the head, because they might reflexively snap. Leave the park if necessary. The best way to avoid a fight is to pay attention. Watch everyone at dog parks for body language that indicates aggressiveness and be proactive.
Do Not Bring Your Puppy to Dog Parks
Puppies are not ready to play at the park yet. As a new pet owner there is a lot of pressure to socialize your dog, but even after a puppy has received all their vaccinations they still might not be ready for the dog parks. It is a good idea to wait at least three months to bring your puppy to the park. If the park has a small dog area this is the best place for your new puppy to play. Also, if your dog has shown previous signs of aggression, or has trouble playing well with other dogs, it is important to exercise discretion when bringing your dog to the park.
What to Bring to the Park
Good dog parks have water fountain areas with communal water bowls for everyone’s dog, but sometimes you may have to bring your own bowl from home. If another dog drinks out of your dog’s bowl this is ok. Sharing toys is also ok, and dogs can have fun playing tug-of-war with their toys. Most parks also provide bags, but it is always a good idea to bring your own to properly dispose your dog’s waste.