Dog Park Safety & Etiquette

Dog parks can be a place for canine exercise and socializing. There are responsibilities and cautions that need to take be taken if we are to keep dog parks a friendly fun place.  As a public park you cannot control which dog breeds will attend nor can you determine temperament. But you can practice responsible ownership of your dog and by staying alert and attentive you can predict potential problems and act to minimize unwanted occurrences. Here are some tips that can help you have a positive experience:

Stand outside the park and observe the dogs playing. If you don’t like what you see then pick another day or time to attend. Whenever you enter, time it for when the majority of  dogs are away from the gate to lessen your dog being overwhelmed. Remove your dogs leash immediately upon entering and start walking. Dogs on a leash are likely to be more defensive (of you) than free-roaming dogs.

If your dog is timid, you can help them integrate by walking around the park perimeter with them and when another dog approaches you pet the arriving dog and pet your dog at the same time. The most important thing is not to baby them. Be calm, and confidently motion and tell your dog “go play”.

If you see your own dog lining up at the entrance to greet a new dog approaching the park, call your dog back to you. Even if the dogs are all friendly and wagging their tails, that sight can be overwhelming to the new dog, who may become threatened and react. Also call your dog to you anytime they’re part of a group picking on one dog.

Other dogs will chase a ball that you throw for your dog – its going to happen. So time  throw and direction for best odds for your dog to retrieve it. And the next time you visit anticipate and bring a second ball which can be thrown to another dog which frees up for you to play fetch with your pooch.

If you own more than one dog be aware of them being overly protecting of one another and ganging up on other dogs. Discourage teaming up action. Put one of your dogs on a leash and walk around the park. Observe a change in behaviour when the other plays solely. Switch up whose on leash.

If you own a large or dominant breed then keep your dog under your call and control and don’t allow their play to be overwhelming or intimidating to the others. Pinning, knocking over, mounting, nipping are all anti-social and dominant behaviour and need to be stopped. Wrestle type play is typical for puppies through to 18 mths. “Boxing” (batting with paws), jumping up on each other, pinning, chewing on collars and ears is part of that play. And as long as each dog is on top about half the time then all is well. When the growling intensifies or the chewing is too aggressive bring a stop to that by calling them off and redirecting their focus