Relaxed dog with tennis ball

Minding Your Manners in the Dog Park

Dogs are social animals that, in their natural state, live in social groups. In today’s world, however, pet dogs may not have the chance to mingle and mix as much as they would like. Now, I’m not suggesting that your beloved beagle isn’t perfectly happy to hang out with you and watch TV, but running and frolicking with those who like to roll in dirt, chase balls and sniff, well, areas humans do not is also important to most dogs.

The answer? Perhaps the local dog park! Dog parks exist in most areas of the country, from small towns to big cities. They allow dogs to run freely, play with others and in general have a good time. It’s your chance to meet other dog lovers as well! But, there are some etiquette issues to address when going to the dog park. Here are a few helpful hints for both you and your dog!

  • Is Rover ready? Make sure your dog’s shots are up-to-date. While cavorting with other canines may be fun, it shouldn’t be dangerous. If your dog has any skin wounds or other health conditions, stay home until he’s on the mend. Also, be sure to keep your flea and tick treatment and worm preventative treatments up-to-date as well. No one wants flea swapping or arriving home with uninvited worms.
  • What about a naughty dog? Chasing, snapping and growling, running away and being – let’s say amorous – are all taboo in the dog park world. Wait to take Rover to the dog park until you have checked out an obedience class. You must be in control when in the park. Once he is off the leash, you should feel secure that he will come immediately when called. Any bad behavior he exhibits at home may be exacerbated when he is around a group of rambunctious canine rabble-rousers!
  • How to make a clean getaway? This is an important rule, much more for the other pet parents than for your dog. You must pick up what your dog, well, puts down. Be prepared with pet waste baggies, like Yippee Skippy Doggy Waste Bags from Sergeant’s. Don’t feign ignorance and look the other way when your dog does his duty; clean up is your responsibility. If no one did this, the park would not be a pleasant place. If you forgot to bring waste bags, ask another pet parent. Most are happy to share.
  • Any helpful hints for humans? Yes! First, do not offer unsolicited advice to other pet parents on how to deal with their dog. Don’t discipline or feed treats to other people’s dogs unless they have given you permission. Don’t bring your favorite coffee drink with you. Scalding hot coffee can easily hurt a dog that jumps on you. Finally, if your dog is exhibiting bad behavior, address it immediately. If he won’t stop, leave the park!

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