The dog park can be an exciting and rewarding place for your dog to play, socialize and spend time with other dogs and people, provided you use it in the right way. If you have never been to a dog park or are worried about what to expect, these etiquette tips and best practices will help you both have a rewarding outing.
Puppies love to play and socialization is a must, but the Association of Professional Dog Trainers recommends dogs be at least 4 months of age before visiting a dog park. That 4 month mark is the time your puppy will be fully able to explore his surroundings – and marks the conclusion of his puppy series of vaccinations, too. Senior dogs may enjoy sniffing around the bushes and watching the scene, but if they are in poor health they could be more susceptible to illness or injury; keep your senior at home if he is fragile.
Don’t Start a Riot
Don’t bring your female dog to the park if she is in heat; leave any intact males at home as well. Hormones can interfere with behavior in a variety of ways, and could cause aggression or territorial issues in your pet or others in the park.
Keep Things Clean
Clean up after your dog to help keep the park clean and to have continued access. Some parks ban repeat offenders, so pack some disposal bags before you leave home or show your dog to the designated bathroom area before he plays.
Give your Dog the Skills he Needs
Running off leash is part of the fun of the dog park, but only if your dog is able to return to you when called. Make sure you have good off leash control before setting your dog loose – unless you want to chase him down when you are done.
Be Prepared to Leave
If you spot troublesome behavior in your dog or other dogs in the park, be prepared to leave right away. If your pet is stressed, aggressive or being bullied, it is time to go. If your dog is the aggressor or is playing too rough, leave and try a less crowded park or one with a different mix of dogs at play.
The dog park should be a source of delight for your dog and allow him to expend some energy, interact with others in a positive way without impacting the enjoyment of others. Following these basic rules can prevent problems and ensure that your pup has a wonderful time every time visit the dog park.