Written by: Noel Johnson
1) Pick up after your dog
This seems like an obvious one but every day I’m at the dog park there are “doggy land-mines” strewn about. This is not only bad for your shoes but also for dogs who are “poo eaters”. If everyone just picked up after their dogs it would be a much cleaner place. If you are picking up after your own dog and you see some doggy-doo next to it, why not pick it up to! Its not just going to magically disappear on its own. Even if someone else left there dog mess behind, be the bigger person and pick up whatever you see around you!
2) No small children
If you have your little ones with you and don’t have anyone to take care of them while you take your pooch to the dog park then don’t go to the dog park! There is no way you can trust every strange dog in the dog park with your child especially if they are little and still don’t understand how to be “gentle”. Even if every dog there is fun loving and friendly (which they usually are). More than likely your kid is going to get bowled over while the dogs run around. Dog parks are parks for DOGS not CHILDREN.
3) If you can’t control your dog, keep it on a long leash
Before letting your dog off leash you should always work on their recall thoroughly. Realistically, some dogs are more independent or are just easily distracted which makes recall difficult. If this is the case you can purchase 20-40ft leashes from most pet stores. Use that at the dog park so if Fido is running off with someone elses ball and won’t come back at least you have the leash to grab and reign him in!
4) Don’t bring your dogs “favorite” toy
If you’re bringing your dogs favorite toy to the dog park you’re basically asking him to get into a fight. Even if your dog doesn’t have toy aggression, its just a risk best not to take. If your dog does have toy aggression, put a muzzle on them. Its not cruel its just common sense. In my opinion tennis balls should be the only toys aloud at the dog park. Why? because they’re cheap and usually the park is already full of them so most dogs don’t really care if another dog catches the ball before they do. The only time you should bring your dogs favorite toy is for recall incentive. Otherwise leave that squeaky goose toy at home.
Quite often I see a dog owner “mother henning” their dog. Following it around, yelling at it and freaking out whenever their dog starts to play with another dog because it looks like “fighting”. Take a deep breath and now that dogs can understand each other far better than humans and being anxious at the dog park is only going to make your dog nervous and perhaps act out aggressively. If you can’t read or understand dogs warning signs or calming signals and the park is too stressful, go elsewhere or wait for a less busy time. Your dog will be much happier with a calm and happy owner!