If you put pork chops in your pocket before going to the dog park, you probably have bad dog park etiquette. This may seem like common sense, but you'd be surprised at some of the behaviors I've seen.
I was sitting at the dog park the other day; Kaiah was running around playing with her friends, when a lady and her daughter (who didn’t look older than four years old) came into the park.
They caught my attention when I heard the mom state, “Don’t let the dogs get it.” As I turned around, I saw that the little girl was eating from a container of yogurt as three dogs, including Kaiah, were surrounding her expecting her to feed them. I thought, If you don’t want the dogs to get it, I suggest she eat it outside, but I didn’t say it.
Then, the other day, a guy who actually comes to the dog park often, brought treats, which he handed out to all the dogs. I appreciate the good-hearted gesture, but bringing food and treats are two examples of bad dog park etiquette.
I don’t like to feed Kaiah a lot of treats. Just like children, each dog is fed differently, trained differently and may not be able to eat some things. She tends to get an upset tummy just like a kid might after eating too much sugar.
Here is another example of poor etiquette that I witnessed: I have watched one dog attack another dog in the dog park more than once, while the owner just sits on his or her …. ahem … behind. The owner says the dog is just playing, but next thing you know blood is drawn.
Let’s be reminded that while some rough-housing among the dogs is natural social behavior, it's not always welcome. We have no idea how our dogs are going to act or whom they will like. If it's rough enough to draw blood, it's time to stop the behavior and protect the safety of the dogs and people at the park.
Most of the dog parks around here are off leash areas, so it's important before going to make sure your dog is friendly enough for an off leash dog park. Sometimes it is better to find this out during a non-busy time at the dog park. This gives your dog time to get used to the park without the stress of a lot of other dogs. A leash tends to make a dog feel trapped or restricted. So once you feel like your dog is ready for a larger social gathering of dogs, before entering the park, you should take your dog off the leash so they do not get scared and feel they have to defend themselves.
As a society, we start to blame the dog for its behavior, however, think about this: Has the dog been taught to behave? Sometimes the owner is doing his or her best, but sometimes they are doing their best to ignore their dog.
Here are some more helpful tips for maintaining a peaceful co-existence at the dog park:
- Choker, spike and prong collars should be removed before allowing your dog to play with other dogs. If they are not on a leash, there is no reason it should have these types of collars on. They can only cause damage to yours and other dogs.
- Stop bothersome or unwanted behavior immediately. This includes aggressive growling and biting at others, humping or digging.
- Pick up your dog’s poop! This is how parasites and diseases are passed from dog to dog.
- Do not bring food!
- Do not hover or hang out at the entrance. This causes the dogs to become anxious.
- Make sure your dog wears its tags.
- Watch your dog! When you are at the dog park, please watch your dog and don’t hang out on your cell phone.
Most importantly, as you are at the dog park, spend time with your dog, teach them good behavior, and enjoy your time together. Hope Kaiah and I will see you there!