A dog park is the perfect place to let your four-legged friend interact with other dogs and run wild.
But not too wild.
Yes, there are rules of etiquette — for you and your pet — at the dog park.
Here’s what you need to know to not be that dog owner.
1. Don’t hand out dog treats.
Every dog loves a treat, but make sure to keep them out of sight at the park. Treats can make the other dogs jealous, and sharing the treats with other dogs doesn’t always go over well with other owners. But feel free to bring water and a bowl to keep your dog hydrated.
2. Don’t let playtime turn into fight club.
If you know your toy poodle doesn’t interact well with larger dogs, don’t go to a park full of big dogs. As noted by WebMD, an ideal dog park has a designated small-dogs section to avoid this scenario. Barking and growling are considered normal social interactions, but it’s your responsibility to decide when playful rough-housing starts to escalate to a fight. If that happens, remove your dog from the social setting.
3. Don’t forget to bring a plastic bag.
Just like everywhere else, you’re responsible for cleaning up after your pet at the park. Some parks have plastic bags available near the waste cans, but you should always carry a few extras.
4. Don’t unleash your dog and lose track of him/her.
It seems obvious, but sometimes you get distracted while talking to other dog owners. Make sure you know where your dog is at all times to avoid problems like fights. As with a child, you never know what your dog might get into.
5. Don’t bring unvaccinated puppies, unneutered males, or females in heat to the park.
While it may be tempting to bring your little ball of energy to the park, PETA suggests waiting until your puppy is at least four months old and has had all the necessary vaccinations. Unneutered males have higher testosterone, meaning more aggressive behaviour, and unspayed females in heat can make you a fast grandparent.
6. Don’t infest the park with fleas.
If your dog has fleas, parasites, or is sick, stay home. Owners don’t want their dogs catching anything just as you don’t want your dog catching anything. Wait until your dog is healthy to bring him/her to the park.
7. Don’t bring your dog to a park that you haven’t checked out first.
There are a few things you need to evaluate before you actually bring your dog to a new park. Is it fenced in? Are the dogs there playing nicely? It’s wise to get a sense of the atmosphere so you can judge whether it’s a good fit for your dog.
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