Just like humans, dogs love a trip to the park. Time in the dog park is the canine version of happy hour: socializing, flirting, and playtime galore! But like with any other social event, there are unwritten rules. Want to be sure that you and your animal companion are playing the game right? Follow these helpful suggestions for doggie park etiquette:
- Know your dog’s temperament. It’s easy to forget that the world doesn’t know your pooch as well as you do. Taking dogs to the park introduces them to a variety of breeds, temperaments, and levels of training. You can’t predict how other dogs will behave, so be sure you consider your dog’s temperament. Is he or she prone to barking at large dogs? Definitely consider the small-dog section of the park. Is he or she intimidated by crowds? Find a time to visit the park when it’s not packed.
- Scoop your dog’s poop. Many parks have a pooper scoop and trash cans available, but not all of them. Scope out a park before you go. If resources aren’t provided, be sure to take along supplies to deal with your dog’s doo-doo. Plastic bags—and a small shovel for the squeamish—are a must. If you want to make some human friends while you’re there, pack a few extra baggies; people who forgot will be grateful.
- Fix first. Before you head to the park, get your dog spayed or neutered. Male dogs will get along better, and female dogs will be spared a dog-park frenzy from being in heat. You’ll also help prevent animal overpopulation—just one unaltered female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in only six years.
- Keep pups at home. Eager as you may be to socialize your puppy, it’s not a good idea to take puppies to the dog park before they’re 4 months old. They don’t have the vaccinations that they need, which can put them and other dogs at risk, and they can also be frightened or even trampled by other, larger dogs.
- Take along water but not food. Some dog parks have bowls available for dogs to drink from, but don’t count on it, especially on a hot day. Take along a water bottle and a small dish that you can use to help your hound hydrate. Avoid taking food, including treats, into the dog park, as this could provoke a food fight among dogs who don’t like to share.
- Insist on good behavior. If you see that your own dog is starting to behave aggressively, remove him or her from the park immediately and seek help from a humane dog trainer.
By following these simple rules, you can make trips to the dog park a breeze. Got any other suggestions to ensure smooth sailing? Share them in the comments section!