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Dog Parks. I wish my pup enjoyed them as much as I do. Maggie, a mini Schnauzer, spends her time hiding underneath a picnic table. For most pups, dog parks are a great place for our fur babies to be off leash to socialize and get supplemental exercise. Here in McKinney, Tx, we have a city dog park, apartments with “bark parks”, and “dog friendly” neighborhood greenbelts.
While dog parks can provide a positive experience for you and your pup, they can also be an unpleasant and even dangerous destination. In a matter of seconds, a single situation can escalate into an attack or fight. Top Dog Pet Sitters has a client who took her French bull dog to a dog park. A “sniffing” turned ugly when another dog attacked Frenchie and bit off her ear. Knowing good dog park etiquette can help ensure a pleasant experience for you and your pup.
1. Exercise your pup before you go to the dog park.
Sounds backwards, right? Nope. A dog park is not intended to be your pup’s sole source of exercise or socialization; it is a supplement. A dog that has been inside or alone for hours has pent-up energy, and bringing her into an extremely stimulating environment such as a park with other dogs is like holding a match really close to a stick of dynamite and hoping the fuse doesn’t catch fire.
2. Pick up your pup’s poop.
Good dog park etiquette, PLEASE! It is a dog park, not a place to play “hop scotch”. If you need a reminder on why poop needs to be scooped, here is an excellent article.
3. Make sure your mutt has manners
If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, then avoid dog parks until your pooch receives some training and can follow good dog park etiquette:
•Does your pup charge into the dog park?
•Does your pup “mount” other dogs?
•Does your dog sniff other pups that are obviously uncomfortable with the sniffing?
•Is your pup a bully?
•Does your pup “body slam” people?
4. Remove the leash and harness
•A leash is a tripping hazard for dogs and humans.
•As dogs play, teeth or nails, can get caught in harness hardware.
5. Pay attention to your pup.
Just like at a human playground, supervision is required. Good dog park etiquette requires that pet parents pay attention in case intervention is needed.
6. Avoid feeding other pups
We want to be polite and share treats, but follow good dog park etiquette and don’t do it. Allergies, weight issues or other medical conditions result in pups being on restricted diets. Our Mini Schnauzer has pancreatitis so her diet is heavily restricted. If Maggie eats anything other than her vet approved dog food she will have an attack. Her attacks are life threatening.
7. Leave your toddler at home
Pups and their pet parents are at a dog park because the park is “dog friendly”. Small children and strollers are not “dog friendly”. Practice good dog park etiquette and do not make pet parents worry about your child’s safety or ensure that their pup can dodge a stroller, while they are watching for inappropriate dog behavior. Take your toddler to a park for humans.
8. Follow the dog park rules, even if you don’t like them.
9.Avoid taking toys to the dog park your pup is not willing to share.
10. You are responsible for your pup’s behavior. If someone complains about your dog’s behavior, be willing to consider his perspective before becoming defensive or not listening to what the person is saying. Apologize if your dog has been inappropriate, and leave the park if your dog is being too rough.