While there are often set guidelines at dog parks clearly posted for all visitors to see, it seems that some owners still have trouble following the rules at dog parks. Just by using a wee bit of common sense and following the basics of dog park etiquette, both two-legged and four-legged patrons can have a pawsitively great experience. Here are five faux pas commonly made at dog parks.
1. Not Scooping the Poop
Ever walk into a public bathroom stall and find a nice surprise waiting in the bottom of the toilet that was clearly left by a discourteous user? Just like flushing for the next human, it’s simply good manners to pick up after dogs relieve themselves. Beyond etiquette, it’s important to clean up solid waste because dog feces can carry contagions such as parvo and a number of types of worms – even if they are considered healthy. Some contagions can even carry certain viruses and bacteria that may affect your dog’s nervous system and require that your best friend take dog joint supplements.
2. Bringing Treats to the Park
Bring food… and dogs will come. And naturally, they will typically eat whatever they find, invited or not. Dogs who have never seen each other before will suddenly become best friends. Or, they will become sneaky thieves aiming to get those snacks at all costs—because that’s just what dogs do. Leave the treats for both humans and pooches at home or secured in the car for rewards after a successful visit to the dog park.
3. Believing Dog Parks are Only for Exercise
Dog parks ARE ideal for exercise. But remember that over energetic animals with a lot of pent up energy put all in the same space might not be wise. One over-exuberant dog may ignore those social cues given by other dogs who don’t appreciate your dog bouncing around in their face and yapping. If your dog isn’t trained for good off-leash behavior, either keep them on the leash at the dog park or give them a nice little run before heading to the park. This will ensure they aren’t too over excited when they get there. This will help them get the rest of their daily recommended exercise for dogs.
4. Bringing Along Prized Toys
Imagine a child asking to borrow one of your favorite possessions for show and tell at school. And then knowing that others will be touching it and that it could be taken or harmed can cause stress. So, just consider how your dog may feel if they find another random animal suddenly making the moves on their favorite toy at the dog park. So don’t forget to bring your best puppy toys! Not everyone plays nicely and likes to share, so if your dog is possessive, leave the toys at home.
5. Picking Up Dogs… Or People
Sometimes small dog owners have a tendency to get a bit overprotective when bigger dogs start sniffing around their pets. This often results in the wee one getting picked up. Which in turn, can result in a determined big dog jumping up on the owner trying to pursue the chase. If a small dog’s getting bullied, it’s best to move to another area of the park. Of course things will calm down—slowly. It can be great to make new friends at the park along with your dog. But be mindful of social cues to so to not overdo the conversation or seem obtrusive.
Following these dog park tips for success, both dogs and their two-legged owners are sure to have a blast. And don’t forget, dog feces can carry contagions. So be sure to ask a local dog trainer or professional about tricks and training that might help pets make the most out of dog park outings.