Monday, March 2, 2009

Dog Park PET’iquette

In the event you missed it, dog parks are growing in popularity. As the recent housing crisis pushes many into smaller homes or apartments, it’s important to ensure that your pets get plenty of exercise. So, for those who are new to the experience, how can you get the most from your daily visits? Here are a few initial tips for you. 
Visit the Dog Park Without Your Dog
Every dog park has it’s own flow and personality, developed largely by those who have been showing up twice a day for the last year. Before you bring your laid-back but very scary looking large breed down for a day of play, be sure you understand the ebb and flow of the park. If you don’t see a larger-breed of dog there, talk to the caretakers and ask their feelings on the subject. This is a great opportunity for educating others on the benefits of allowing their smaller-breed dogs to interact with a larger breed.  Get a feel for the environment and the pack. If you want to play in the pack, you have to make sure it’s a good pack for you. 
Abide by the Rules
Every dog park has different rules (for humans and canines). Familiarize yourself with these rules and follow them. No one likes a person who shows up with a dog off-leash, or showing up without plastic bags to clean up after their pets. If your pet exhibits bad behavior, correct it. Don’t ignore it. 
Never Leave Your Pet
That should go without saying, but unfortunately, some people think that a dog park is their answer to “pup-sitting”. Never leave your pet unattended, not even to use the restroom. A lot can happen in four minutes and whether it’s your dog or another causing an issue, you had better be around to remedy the situation. 
Don’t Be Annoying with Treats
Really, you shouldn’t feed your own at a park either. You never know when another dog will become food-aggressive, or just plain jealous. This includes treats and snacks. Dogs can experience a lot of emotion (and related bad manners) when it comes to food.  Training should have already been done at home, and if you’re there to reinforce the training, go ahead and give Fido a quick treat, but do it quickly and without a big deal.
Be Sociable, Don’t be an Expert
Yes. We understand that you know more about the global history of your Chihuahua than anyone else in the world. We don’t necessarily want to hear it. Sure, you can brag about your dog, as long as you give us equal brag time.  You can be an expert if someone asks, but don’t bring it up if up if we’re talking about our day at work. 
Know When to Leave
When your dog starts showing aggression against someone or another dog, it’s time to walk away. If you sense an argument festering in the fenced area, it’s time to leave. Every animal, like every human, has their own tolerance level and it varies daily. Don’t fall victim to the desire to wear your pup out at the cost of being exiled.
Additional Resources

photo credit: Copyright PetsWeekly, 2005

Stacy Mantle

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