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Monday, June 23, 2014

Good Human: 11 Dog Park Manners to Obey

Photo by Tim-Hoggarth (Flickr)

I'm one of those wildly enthusiastic pet lovers, especially when it comes to dogs. When I was younger, I was always surrounded by precious pooches, and I simply can't deny that we didn't completely spoil them. With animals, they're more than just pets. They're family, and if you're an animal lover too, then you know exactly how this feels.

Now, we have two dogs in the family that my children and I absolutely love. They're rescue pups named Patrick and Joy, and they're truly like two more kids that just happen to smile with their exuberant tails. With summer in full swing, we enjoy playing with them outside, bringing them along for our family picnics, and taking them to their favorite place, the local dog park.

However, when visiting the dog park, it's important to remember that you're not alone. There are rules and etiquette that you should follow - this way, everyone can safely and happily enjoy this wonderful haven for our furry angels.

  • Don't smoke: Not only is this common courtesy for the people around you, but it's important to not smoke around the dogs. Secondhand smoke has been linked to certain cancers, skin diseases and respiratory problems for pets. They may also be tempted to eat discarded butts, which is extremely harmful and potentially deadly.
  1. Always close the gate: Be considerate of others. When entering the dog park, always close the gate behind you, because let's face it - animals are curious. They're going to wander. They are unpredictable and may suddenly chase something that may put them in danger. So always err on the side of caution and give yourself and other owners peace of mind by securing the gate every time.
  • Be up to date on shots: This one might sound obvious, but it can't be stressed enough. Make sure that your dog is caught up on all of their shots. In this setting, the dogs will be playing and interacting physically, so vaccines ensure healthy, happy play dates for all involved.
  • Keep your dog leashed until it's time: Keep your pup leashed until they're safely contained in the fence of the dog park. This safeguards them and respects pedestrians that may be wary of dogs. When you leave, leash your pet back up. If your dog is aggressive, it may be best to not let them loose at all. Consider equipping them with a yellow ribbon to relay to others that your dog should only be approached with caution. This goes for any dog that may have a reason to need personal space, aggressive or not.
  • Pick up after your dog: Dogs don't share our bathroom decorum, so if you're going to take yours to the local dog park, be sure to pick up after them! Do your part to avoid the spread of disease.
  • Keep an eye on your dog: In today's digital age, people are glued to their smartphones. However, the dog park is not the place for it. Keep an eye on your dog at all times. If a fight involving your dog breaks out, you want to be ready to step in. Plus, most dogs thrive on their beloved pack leader's attention!
  • Be friendly to those around you: The dogs aren't the only ones who get to play and socialize. Be friendly to the other owners around you because it will make the experience much more enjoyable. Plus, you never know who you will meet! I find that "dog people" often get along swimmingly.
  • Speak with your vet: Before bringing your dog to the local dog park, consult with your vet to ensure if your dog is healthy enough to play with others. Also, think of the temperature and breed of dog before vigorous exercise. Brachycephalic (short-nosed) dogs such as Pugs and Boston Terriers may struggle to breathe and stay cool if it's too hot.
  • Watch your children: Your kids may want to accompany you to the dog park. In this case, just be sure to watch them and keep them near you. Not all dogs are kid-friendly, so you don't want them getting too close to animals that they're unfamiliar with. Inform your little ones of dog park rules and etiquette too.
  • Don't scold another dog: If there's a dog in the park that is being unruly, don't scold it. There may be issues you're unaware of. Instead, let the owner take care of that. You wouldn't want someone to do this to your dog, right? The best you can do is politely avoid the dog in question. If you witness animal abuse, however, I urge you to report the situation to the authorities.
  • Follow the rules: There will likely be rules posted outside of the dog park, some of which may not be mentioned here. Either way, read them carefully and follow them!

Have you ever taken your dog to one of these parks? If so, I'd love to read and share any comments or tips you may have! These parks are a wonderful blessing, and as long as we respect each other and the rules, we can all enjoy them fully and safely.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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