Courtesy counts at the dog park.
Pet lovers know firsthand how dogs need frequent outdoor exercise and free play. Local pet parks offer such opportunities, particularly for those who do not have large, enclosed yards in which to play with their canine companions. Still, unleashed play includes certain guidelines of courtesy, for dogs and their handlers.
Dog parks are popular across the United States.
According to Animal Planet, only three states may still not offer public dog parks. These include Mississippi, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Perhaps these states have already added pet-friendly parks, or they may do so soon.
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What etiquette expectations come into play at the dog park?
Common courtesy is king, even at pet exercise parks. Consider these 10 tips for dog park politeness.
1. Make sure your pooch is up-to-date on all immunizations.
Before allowing a pet to play with unknown dogs, a considerate owner will make certain that animal is current on all shots, deworming treatments, and other medical requirements.
2. Tag your dog before leaving home.
Each canine should be collared, with identification tags and proof of local registration, if required. Rabies and shot tags can be helpful as well, eliminating possible confusion and conflict among humans, if dogs should interact too closely with others.
3. Let pups stay behind.
Younger dogs may not be ready for rambunctious play with others at the pet park. Senior and special-needs dogs may face greater risks as well. Owners should weigh the merits of taking such animals to a public pet park.
Also, don’t bring small children to the dog park, especially when it is crowded. Youngsters may not understand proper personal boundaries, as dogs romp together.
4. Take no more than a pair of pets at a time.
Although the dog park offers free play, considerate handlers must be ready to step in quickly, if needed. A human with too many pets in tow may be overwhelmed at such moments and unable to manage the animals, when they need it.
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5. Avoid hormonal headaches.
Intact males and unsprayed females in heat do not belong at the dog park. This sounds like common sense, but plenty of pet owners seem to overlook such a caution and courtesy.
6. Read the rules, and follow them.
Public dog parks often post lists of their rules. Popular instructions include parking in appropriate areas, keeping the gates latched, not bringing food into the dog park, refraining from smoking, and exercising consideration for others.
7. Keep your dog leashed until he is inside the park and settled.
It’s unwise, unsafe, and downright rude to allow dogs to run untethered from a vehicle into the pet park. Polite canine handlers escort their pet charges on leashes into the park, unfastening them only after they have surveyed their surroundings inside the sealed perimeter of the facility. Certainly, dogs may only be unfastened in off-leash parks.
8. Mind your own mutt at the dog park.
Recess at the pet park is not the time for a long chat or a conference call on your cell phone. Dogs can tangle quickly during rough-and-tumble play, so owners need to pay attention to their pets. Stop a bullying dog immediately to prevent excessive aggression or fighting.
9. Save treats and favorite toys for later.
As pack animals, dogs tend to be social creatures. They will sniff and search and size one another up quickly. A pet with a prized possession or yummy treats may become a target for aggression. Practical and polite pet handlers will keep biscuits, bones, balls, and other goodies in the car or at home to reduce such conflict at the dog park.
10. Clean up after your own pet.
Most pet parks offer disposable baggies and trash receptacles for this purpose. Leaving dog droppings behind in the pet park is considered a universal faux pas.
Courtesy reigns at the best dog parks, particularly when regular attendees and visitors look out for one another and their pets. When humans and hounds don’t follow the basic do’s and don’ts, the fur may fly and tempers be unleashed.
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