Dog park Etiquette
With all the dog parks popping up everywhere there are some good and bad things about these facilities. How many people have tried the dog park and didn't go back? Was there a bully in the park? Was your dog not happy to be there with so many strange dogs? Did your dog have a scare? When you put a bunch of dogs into a confined area; things can happen. The smaller the park with a high number of dogs can create a bad situation which was intended to be a good one.
I have heard many horror stories about dog parks but if you follow some simple rules they can be a great way to socialize and vent some excess energy.
Unfortunately not all the dogs that frequent the park should be there. But; the problem typically lies with the human guardian of that dog and not the dog itself. There are pushy type dogs who run around bullying every other dog in the park who receive no feedback once so ever from their human. Their human is happily chatting up a storm on the other side of the park without so much as a glance Mr. Bully's way. This is the biggest issue that I have dealt with and hear from other owners.
There are the folks who bring their dog kicking and screaming and sit there with their dog hiding under their legs. Do you really think that your dog is enjoying this? Obviously this is a traumatic experience and if this is not their first or second trip but a long term behavior; I suggest you skip the park all together. A dog like this needs a lot of work before being thrown into a dog park in close proximity to other canines.
So here are my list of rules for the parks;
Firstly; play nice, if your dog cannot play nice they need a time out. Give your dog another chance to play nice and if they still are not playing nice; leave.
Watch your dog; that means eyes on your dog at all times. Sure you can chit chat but watch your dog while you socialize.
Watch the other dogs; you need to know who is in the park. Keep your eyes out for any problems that may arise from other dogs.
Guarding behaviors are not conducive to playing at the park. If your dog guards their balls or frisbees then leave the toys at home.
If you have a dog that is extremely fearful; work on this at a less scary place before introducing the dog park setting. It is much easier for a fearful dog to handle a couple of dogs at a time before dealing with a mob.
Chill out; if you are uptight about going to the park your dog will sense this.
Dogs communicate via growling and body posturing; don't think every growl or pounce is aggression.
Don't coddle your fearful dog. If your dog is screaming behind your legs you have work to do before subjecting them to a park situation.
Short and sweet; dogs become over tired and cranky with too much in your face time with other dogs. Leave when your dog is still happy to be there.
If a negative incident arises at the park; wait and have some positive time before leaving. You don't want to abruptly leave on a negative creating a negative association to the park.
Do not allow your dog to bully other dogs.
Do not allow your dog to mount other dogs.
Do not allow your dog to pester other dogs; barking consistently in one's face is pretty annoying.
Pick up after your dog.
My motto in life is "quite while you're ahead." This is definitely good advice for a dog park.