Dog park etiquette

You’ve heard about dog parks from your friends, family and even complete strangers. It’s somewhere you can take your best friend so he can frolic happily with other dogs, getting exercise and socialization with members of the canine family. But what do you need to know before you pack up your doggie for a fun filled day? Your best friend can have a great time if you are willing to follow some general, and common sense rules.

1. If your dog has a history of aggression against other dogs or people, do not take him to a dog park. You are just asking for trouble, not to mention putting other people and pets in danger. An aggressive dog isn’t controllable in those conditions and you are financially liable for any damages your dog does as a result of his actions.

2. Make sure all of your dog’s vaccinations are up to date. Many dog diseases are transmittable by drool, bites, and even feces. Vaccines protect your dog, and other dogs, from potentially deadly and costly illness. Also, all dog parks require canine visitors to have their shots. Bring a copy of your vet’s bill showing your dog has had his shots with you just in case an animal control officer asks for proof of vaccinations.

3. Get your dog licensed per the requirements of your city or state, even if you disagree with the law. Dog parks are monitored by animal control and many jurisdictions will ticket you for not having your dog licensed.

4. Have a voice controlled dog. This means you should be able to get your dog to obey you with only your voice. Your dog should come when called the first time, and stay if you tell him to. If your dog cannot do this, then you should keep him on a leash while he is at the dog park.

5. You must keep your dog in sight the whole time he is at the park. A dog out of sight is a dog not under your control. Also, have your dog’s leash in your hand at all times and be ready to retrieve your dog if issues arise between him and another dog or person.

6. If you have an unspayed female dog, do not take her to the park while she is in heat. This could cause male dogs to develop aggressive tendencies where there might not have been any before. Not to mention the possibility of unwanted puppies in your future if one of the male dogs isn’t neutered.

7. For the safety of all the dogs at the park, do not use choke, prong, or spike collars. These kinds of collars can result in injuries to the wearer, other dogs and even people. Choke collars can get hung up, possibly strangling your dog. Some dogs like to softly bite the back of another dog’s neck while playing. Prong collars could be forced into your dog’s throat during this kind of activity while a spike collar could harm the other dog. Remove them before entering the park.

8. Do not bring food, other than small training treats, to the park. Keep these treats inaccessible to the all of the dogs there. Never offer food to a strange dog without first asking the owner if the dog is allowed to have a treat. Most importantly, do not bring people food to a dog park. Many things we eat are not good for our four-legged friends.

9. Clean up your dog’s feces and dispose of it properly. It’s also a nice thing to pick up poop you find that other owners might have missed. You will no doubt miss some of the piles your dog has left at times and if everyone works together, the dog park you go to will be a cleaner place for your friend to play. Also, fill in any holes your dog might dig in the park. This is a safety issue, not only for humans but for all of the furry friends who use the park.

10. Don’t bring young children to the dog park with you. Children tend to be loud and active, and can scare a normally friendly dog into aggression. Also, it’s nearly impossible for a dog owner to keep visual and voice control over his pet if he’s constantly supervising a child as well.

Dog parks can be a fun experience for you and your four-legged friend. By following some simple rules, and using your own common sense, both of you can have a great time at a dog park.