It can take some time in childhood and adolescence to figure out the right ways to behave in certain situations, and the same is true for dogs. They don’t instinctively know what their owners expect of them. Instead, they need to learn how to act accordingly, and many figure it out the hard way.
Minding their Ps and Qs at the dog park is often easier said than done. With our tips for proper park etiquette, everyone (pets and people alike) can aim for a safe and enjoyable experience.
First Things First
The dog park facilitates exercise and socialization for pups and their people. They are part of an owner’s toolkit to keep their active dog entertained, and help cultivate physical and mental skills.
Dog parks are not intended for unsupervised dogs to run amok. Certainly, the removal of their leash is part of the fun in an enclosed dog park. However, there are few things worse than an unattended dog that is rushing at fellow participants or behaving in aggressive or unwanted ways.
Healthy Dogs Only
Because of the potential for transmissible diseases to run rampant in dog parks, it is essential to fully vaccinate your dog long before visiting a public dog park. Puppies should be at least 16 weeks old, and current with their shots before going.
Adherence to their parasite prevention schedule is essential to protect your dog from illnesses spread by fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. Ideally, dogs should be spayed or neutered prior to meeting new dog friends at the park.
It is recommended that your dog demonstrate mastery of certain commands. At the very least, they should be able to come when called by name. Ideally, they’ll respond to basic obedience commands like sit, stay, heel, down, and leave it. If they do not have an understanding of the basics, it might be best to reserve dog park visits until they’ve got them down.
Lay of the Land
Some dog parks are designed to keep large and small breeds separated. Depending on your pup’s size, choose the area that is right for them. Enter the enclosure slowly and calmly. Once they are ready, remove their leash and encourage them to explore.
Always keep your eyes on your dog’s location, body language, and behavior. Any signs of distress should be quickly intercepted. Keep your time short at first, increasing their visits after several successful trips.
Dog Park Tricks
If your dog is showing signs of hyperactivity or has too many wiggles, exercise them thoroughly before dropping by the dog park.
If your dog exhibits any fear or aggression at all, please intervene and redirect them to another activity. Things can quickly get crazy inside a dog park, so be aware and alert at all times. Do not get in the middle of a dog fight. Instead, use other diverting tactics (such as a water sprayer) to draw your dog’s attention away.
To reduce resource guarding, do not bring your dog’s toys into the dog park. Also, discourage them from shared water bowls and only treat them when they leave the dog park.
Ounce of Prevention
If you have further questions about dog park etiquette, please give us a call at (916) 347-5356. We’re always here for you at East Sacramento Veterinary Center.