5 Rules for the Dog Park You Must Follow
Piper and I are frequent dog park visitors. There is a great one just around the corner from my house that we go to four or five times a week. She loves it. In addition to her weekly doggy daycare visits, it’s a great place for her to get that extra energy out and socialize with other dogs in our area.
I also enjoy it because it allows me to meet other dog owners near us. The dog park really does have its own sense of community. If you go enough, like Piper and I, you will start to see some of the same people and dogs. This is one of my favorite parts about going.
It also gets us out of the house. And, if I have a pet-related concern or question, I can talk to fellow dog-owners about it. Trust me, dog owners LOVE to talk about their dogs. And it’s nice to know that Fido isn’t the only one that likes to chew on the windowsill.
Since I would consider us “regular” visitors now, I’ve learned a thing or two about Dog Park Etiquette. Whether you’ve been to a park before or you are thinking about visiting one, here are my top five rules for the dog park.
Choose the Right Side
Most dog parks are set up the same unless of course, you are using an apartment dog park in which case it is much smaller. A usual dog park has two sides: a side for large dogs (over 40 lbs.) and a side for small dogs (under 40 lbs.).
How do you know which side you should use? Well, using the weight guide is a good start. However, I would like for you to consider your canine friend and how they do in the presence of other dogs. Does your 100+ lb. Saint Bernard coward in the corner as soon as another dog comes near it?
Keep in mind that most people will follow the weight guidelines so generally there will be large dogs on the large side, and small dogs on the small side. Try to stick with your respective side.
Navigate the Gate Correctly
There should be at least 3 entrances to the dog park. The first will take you into what I call the “holding cell”. This is where you will remove your pooch’s leash (as well as anything that you don’t want to risk getting caught on something and possibly harming your or another owner’s dog such as a collar).
This is also a great place to introduce your dog to the other canine’s that are already “on the inside”. They can sniff each other through the gate without getting too close for comfort if your dog is a bit weary of such a strange environment. At this point, you can choose which side to join. Important: Make sure before you open the second gate that the first is closed and secured!
Never have more than one gate open at a time. Some dogs like to charge the holding area to enthusiastically welcome the newcomer and suddenly find themselves on the outside and can easily escape. Don’t be that dog owner. It is also a good idea to only have one part of dog(s) and owner in the holding area at a time. If you and another owner arrive at the same time, be courteous and take turns entering the park.
Bring Your Dog In Confidently
Don’t spend too long in the holding area. The longer you wait to introduce your pet to the rest of the group, the worse their anxiety can get. Give them a chance to acclimate themselves but be assertive in your role as provider and protector. They will follow you. Once inside, give them and the others a chance to get to know each other. Don’t panic if you see your pet getting bombarded by a pack of dogs within seconds of entering. Give them a few minutes to sniff each other out and they will establish a hierarchy amongst themselves.
Please Clean Up After Your Dog
I shouldn’t have to cover this, but I do. I promise you, there is absolutely nothing worse than stepping in a dog’s you-know-what. If it is a reputable dog park, there will be plenty of disposable bags available as well as a receptacle to discard them in.
I know it’s gross, but that’s what you signed up for when you got a dog. Please, do everyone a favor and just pick it up. Also, if you see a dog doing his business and their owner does not notice, let them know! We are all friends here and we like to keep the place clean.
Although this is the last rule on my list, this should be the number one thing on your mind when visiting the dog park. Dogs can have a tendency to continue playing long after they are worn out and dehydrated. It is critical that you pay attention to your pet and look for these signs.
Most dog parks will have water stations, or at least buckets of water, for the dogs to drink from. Keep an eye on these communal water buckets and don’t hesitate to empty and re-fill them if you feel like they need to be refreshed! Summers in the south can get brutal. And imagine having to wear a winter coat all the time! Watch your pup and take them home when you feel they’ve had enough.
So take your pupper out this weekend, find yourself a nice dog park and become a regular! Just keep these rules in mind and your dog, as well as fellow dog-owners, will thank you.
Do you have any other “rules” or good practices for the dog park?
Don’t know where your local dog park is? Check Bring Fido!