BaxterBoo Blog
July 14, 2011

Dog Park Etiquette All Dog Owners Should Know

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Remember when you were a kid, and how excited you got when your parents took you to the park? Well, now you can give that same thrill to your dog. Dog parks offer a fun place for your dog to work off some energy and gain socialization skills with fellow four-legged friends.

Dog parks have become increasingly popular throughout the United States. More and more people are taking notice of the benefits that these parks can offer for your pup. Due to their popularity, an increasing number of interactions between different types of dogs and humans are occuring. To help make your experience a howling good time, here are some helpful tips for proper dog park etiquette.

Dog Park Do's

Make Sure Your Dog is Up-To-Date on Shots 

Your dog is going to be wrestling around with others in an enclosed area. Sometimes, dogs can get aggressive and a bite or two could happen. In order to ensure your pet’s health and the health of others, make sure your dog is current on all vaccinations.

Be Respectful of Others 

Most parks will post a sign of rules and regulations. Even though there may be a rule or two you may not care for, there is a reason they are there. It is important to follow them for the safety of your dog.

Clean Up After Your Dog

Stinky dog poop on the bottom of your shoe can be a big problem, especially in dog parks where people don’t clean up after their dogs. No one wants a poopy shoe, so be courteous to others and pick up after your dog. This will help prevent fights among other park visitors and keep your nose unbroken from Big Bubba that happened to step in your dog’s doo.

Be on The Lookout 

Before you let your pup off the leash, check out the other dogs. No, you aren’t scouting mating partners for your dog, but checking to make sure the others dogs look safe and non-aggressive. If you happen to spot a giant mastiff that is giving your small poodle the bedroom eye, you might want to head out and come back another time.

Know When To Leave

We love our babies and they love us. However, they might not share that same love for others. If your dog starts getting aggressive (growling, ears back, teeth bared, etc.) know that it is time to leave. Doctor bills are expensive, whether it is vet or ER bill, so head out before someone gets hurt and you get stuck with the bill.

Bring Extra Essentials

Some dog parks offer certain amenities, such as water fountains or waste bags. These are great essentials, but be aware that not all parks offer these. Having extras is great preparation, as well as a social tool. If a fellow park goer didn’t come as prepared as you, offering them some from your stash can be a great way to make friends and maybe even score a date.

Teach Your Dog The Value of Quiet Time

While it is expected that dogs are going to bark and make a ruckus, incessant barking can irritate fellow park goers. If your dog becomes a yapper, then take a time out for a while and take your dog to see some other sights before returning to the park.

Be Friendly

Leave the drama and snobbery where it belongs, back in high school. Be courteous and show respect to your fellow dog owners. A simple head nod or smile towards other park goers will ease the mood and let others know you aren’t a dog park snob.

Find Appropriate Clothing

Your stiletto heels are probably best kept for a night on the town and not to walk your dog. Wear something you don’t mind getting dirty in. Dogs jump and get muddy. It is a good possibility that Rufus, a big cuddly Old English Sheepdog, might jump on you. Don’t be a drama queen and throw a fit, be prepared with the right clothing and dress for the mess.

Educate Your Kids

Parks are great for the whole family. Dog parks, however, are a little different. Since there are a lot of dogs that you are not familiar with, bringing small children to dog parks can be hazardous. Educating small children can be beneficial to your family and the other dogs at the park. Here are some helpful guidelines to use to educate kids.

  • Do not run or scream in the dog park since dogs tend to chase and often times knock down children.
  • Do not touch or take another dog’s ball since you are not familiar with how the dog will react.
  • Ask the owner of the dog before petting a strange dog.
  • Do not touch dogs while they are sleeping since they might awaken in a startled state.
  • Do not hug or kiss dogs that belong to someone else since you don’t know their vaccination history.
  • Avoid rough play.
  • Avoid eye contact with aggressive dogs and immediately look away, turn your back very slowly, walk away, and call for an adult.

Dog Park Don'ts

Don't Bring Underage Pups

While an ID may not be required to get in, pups under 4 months of age are too fragile to bring to dog parks.

Don't Bring in Toys or Treats

It may not be against the rules, but unless you want to start a fight between your dog and other pups, it is best that toys and treats be left at home.

Don't Leave Your Dog Alone

Even though there may be a cute guy at the gas station across the street, don’t leave your dog alone to go over there. Just like you wouldn’t leave your kid at the park by themselves, our dogs are our kids and they need supervision when they play with others. Some dogs don’t do well with strangers and may get aggressive, agitated, or excessively excited, so it is important to be there in case you're needed.

Don't Let Your Temper Get Away From You 

Squish, you just stepped in dog poop. As much of a stinky situation it is, don’t start spouting off curse words to fellow park goers. Unless you have performed a DNA poop test, it is hard to be sure just who the culprit is. Accusing innocent park goers can lead to black eyes and an invitation to not return to the park.

Don't Pretend To Not Notice

If your dog does the doo, then make sure to clean it up. Just as you wouldn’t want another dog’s poo on you, don’t leave your dogs for someone else. It is unsightly and stinking.

Don't Bring an Intact Male or Female 

Dogs have no morals when it comes to the dirty deed. They are naturally inclined to get it where they can. If your pup has all the right equipment, opt to leave them at home. Placing an intact male or female in an enclosed area with other dogs can lead to big complications, and may end up giving you a litter of problems two months later.

Don't Bring Open Beverages 

Dogs can be jumpy critters. If you have a Starbucks latte in hand, you could get a blouse full of coffee. Try to only bring beverages that have sealable caps or clear substances. Even though it should be a given, don’t bring alcohol. No one wants to see you dancing on the picnic tables and or get sloppy.

Don't Pretend To Be a Dog Whisperer

Unless you are a professional dog trainer or a vet, try to keep dog tips and suggestions to yourself unless asked. Dogs are like kids, and telling someone how to discipline their dog will only get you into trouble, unless they ask you for advice.

Don’t Panic 

If your dog happens to get into a fight, don’t panic. When parents run towards their dog screaming and with flaying arms, it can tend to intensify the mood. Remain calm and take a second to analyze the situation. Dogs will often show aggressive signs before they attack by barking, snarling, and nipping, but most of the time, one of the dogs will back down and the fight will subside in a few seconds.  However, if looks like it is about to escalate, there are some ways to break up the dog fight without hurting yourself.

  • Bang two objects together like cymbals that make a lot of noise – for example, trash can lids.
  • Use a spray bottle to squirt the dogs.
  • Grab a blanket or a shirt/jacket and throw it over the dogs – when they separate, grab your pup quickly and take leave immediately.

All of these etiquette tips can make your experience a happy and safe one. If you have any more that you think would be helpful, please post them in a comment below or on our Facebook page.

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