Adapted from an article by Scott Fung, San Fransisco Animal Trainer, San Fransisco Examiner
We’re very lucky we have access to dog parks for ourselves and our four-legged friends. But what we need to remember most is that many people and many dogs are using the same park and we need to be as courteous as possible when visiting them.
1.) Clean up! It isn’t just messy, it’s un-sanitary, and depending on where you are, you might be spreading disease and bacteria near children, other dogs, or possibly into open water ways.
2.) Most enclosed parks have a double gate to come through; there is a reason for this! The two gates are there to make sure no dogs accidentally get in or out, so when coming in you open the outside gate, let your dog through, close it, open the inside gate, let your dog through, and then close it.
3.) When you’re ready to come in, take your dog off its leash within the gates, don’t wait until you’re inside. Dogs don’t want to be on-leash even for a moment when none of the others are. When you open the inside gate, open it all the way, other pets will most likely want to greet yours and if you only give a little wiggle room. Mrs. Snugglesworth won’t want to come out of the gate head-to-head with another dog, so by opening it all the way gives them more room to enter.
4.) Learn how your dog plays: some dogs just play rough; it’s very important to learn the difference between a fight and just rough play. Growling isn’t always bad, some dogs are just vocal. I suggest reading some literature and dog’s body language or go to a behavior class at your local SPCA.
5.) You are at the dog park for them to play and do their business, so pay attention! Sure you can socialize yourself too, but keep an eye on your dog. How will you break up a fight or pick up after your dog if they’re across the park? As for cell-phones, sure you might need to use them, but probably best to keep the talk time to a minimum, you should have your attention mainly focused on your animal, and besides have you tried to bend down to pick up a present your dog left and accidentally dropped your new iPhone? Guess where Murphy’s Law states it will land?!
6.) Kids: don’t bring them if they are not extremely comfortable with animals, and know how to approach a dog they don’t know. This can be dangerous for the child and traumatizing for the dogs. Some pets have never been around kids before, so your screaming toddler might not be the best first impression, and some may have already had that, or a similar experience, and might be threatened or aggressive towards small children. The less you bring, the safer: there’s nothing worse than a family with five ill-advised kids all holding Frisbees and bags of treats, playing on agility equipment meant strictly for the dogs.
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