5 Tips for Fantastic Dog Park Etiquette
Dog parks are a great way to strengthen your bond with your dog, have him socialize and help him burn off some extra energy. But, what do you do if your dog is shaking like a leaf under a park bench? Or when a couple of minutes of enthusiastic play make your dog extremely “friendly” with his playmate? Read on for 5 tips for fantastic dog park etiquette and a few ways you can manage and correct some common dog park behaviours.
Dog Park Etiquette
Here are some common tips on dog park etiquette to keep in mind before your next visit. Most local dog parks, cities and towns have their own dog park rules, so it’s best to do an online search as well before visiting the park.
- Clean up after your dog. While your dog may view the entire dog park as his personal toilet, it doesn’t mean you should leave his mess behind. Keeping the park clean not only keeps other dog owners’ shoes clean, but also helps protect against the spread of parasites.
- Make sure your dog is vaccinated. All dogs visiting the park should have updated vaccinations. If you have a puppy, whose most likely very eager to play with the big dogs, he should not enter the dog park until he’s at least four months of age and has had his full set of vaccinations. If you’re not sure about your dog’s vaccinations, contact your veterinarian.
- Keep a collar on your dog and have your leash on-hand. Keeping your dog’s collar on can keep him safe in case he decides to plan a great escape. Make sure to keep the tags on your dog’s collar up-to-date. Also, making sure you have your dog’s leash with you can help you quickly remove him from any less-than-pleasant interactions.
- Actively supervise your dog. While you may be tempted to enthusiastically scroll through your Instagram feed while your dog plays, it’s best to limit the amount of time your attention is off of him. Actively checking in and supervising your dog makes sure that he’s safe and behaving well.
- Avoid bringing aggressive dogs into the park. If your dog has a history of aggression with humans or other dogs, it’s best not to bring him into the park so as to not put other dogs and people at risk. If your dog displays aggressive behaviour, speak to your veterinarian about seeking professional guidance.
A Note about Puppies and Dog Parks
As mentioned, your puppy should not enter the dog park until he’s at least four months of age and had his full set of vaccinations. That being said, growing puppies are still learning and figuring out the rules of canine conduct. While the dog park is a great place for socializing with other pups, it may be slightly overwhelming, especially if your dog doesn’t have a firm grasp on basic commands such as “sit” and “come.”
If you still want your puppy to socialize and play, but in a more controlled environment, puppy training classes are a great option. These classes can help your dog learn basic commands, socialize with other puppies and gain confidence. Plus, an experienced trainer can help ensure that all puppies and humans are feeling safe and comfortable during the training sessions. You can book puppy training sessions at your local pet store or through an independent trainer.
How to Deal with Common Dog Park Behaviours
As mentioned above, keeping an eye on your dog is a great way to make sure he and other dogs have a positive experience in the park. By watching your dog, you can easily read his body language and understand what he’s trying to communicate to you and the dogs around him. Here are some common dog park behaviours and how to respond to them.
If you see another dog in the park that is acting aggressive and making you question the safety of your dog, it’s in your best interest to leave the park right away. If it’s your own dog that’s being aggressive, immediately correct his behaviour by giving him a time out and giving him space to calm down. If you find your dog continues to be aggressive in the park, it’s best for you to leave.
Over time, if you notice that your dog is consistently aggressive, it’s best to stop visiting the dog park. Rather, seek out options for getting professional training for your dog.
Fear and Shyness
If your dog is pressed up against your legs or hiding under a bench, always allow them the time to retreat and relax. Whenever your dog is being confident and playing well with other dogs, make sure to reward his behaviour.
However, if you find that your dog is simply too overwhelmed while in the park, it’s okay to leave and let him calm down. For your future visits, try to visit the park when there are fewer pups running around. A less crowded space can encourage him to explore at his own pace!
If you see that your dog is getting a little too “friendly” with another pup, or that your own dog has garnered some “unwanted attention,” immediately interrupt the action. While some dogs don’t mind being mounted during play, it’s best to stop the behaviour right away to prevent any fights or unnecessary stress.
Sometimes dogs can get a little too excited during play and overwhelm their playmate. Who can blame them? A dog park is an exciting place! However, if you find that your dog is bullying another dog, or is being bullied, calmly move your dog away from his playmate and give him time to calm down.
We hope that these tips on dog park etiquette have helped you prepare for your next trip to the dog park. If you’d like to learn more about dog body language cues, check out our article on understanding dog body language. We wish you and your dog an awesome time at your next dog park outing!