A day out at the dog park is fun for both humans and dogs. But the primary focus of this outing should be your dog and the other four legged beings in the park.
A lot of people think it’s a great idea to meet up with their friends who also have dogs at the park and make it a social meet up -
Which is fine but your focus must be on your dogs at all times! Just because your friend’s dog gets along great with your dog doesn’t mean the other dogs in the park will follow the same tactics.
Unfortunately there are an abundance of clueless dog owners out there who have not trained their dogs or just really shouldn’t be bringing their dogs to interact with other dogs at the park.
Here are some key guidelines to follow for your next trip at the dog park
1. Watch your dog’s body language
Body language is an extremely important factor of a successful trip to the park. There is a lot of energy and movements all happening at once around your dog. Should your dog’s tail tuck under their body - It means your pup is stressed and not enjoying their time at the park.
Your dog may whine and scratch at your legs to be picked up or ask for reassuring pats. If this is the case, don’t force your dog to endure the park any longer, take them to a safe space.
2. Be vocal
Don’t be afraid to speak up loudly to other dogs or humans at the park. You may need to make it known to another dog owner that their dog is causing your dog unnecessary stress if their dog is jumping all over your dog. Or you may need to deter another dog away from your dog.
Simply use your voice in a loud manner and stand in front of your dog commanding the other dog to “leave” or “get out” - These phrases should be picked up by the dog along with your body language blocking the unwanted dog’s access to your own dog.
3. Check vaccinations and tick/flea treatment is up to date
As fun as the dog park may seem to most, it should be noted that you take precautions before visiting a dog park. With a lot of different dogs and owners having access to the park, it comes with risks! Such as: kennel cough, diseases and spread of fleas/ticks. Check your furry friend is up to date with all their vaccinations and tick/flea prevention as this can help keep your dog protected and avoid vet bills.
4. Off leash or on leash - Don’t be that loser at the park who can’t control their dog
You should only ever have your dog off leash at the park if you are confident your dog will respond to your commands. Whether it’s to come when your dog is being called or to stop in their tracks at whatever they are doing.
Nothing is more frustrating when dog owners have their dogs off leash causing havoc amongst the other dogs at the park. If your dog is “overly friendly” and has the tendency to run up to other dogs exceptionally excited then please leash your dog as that can be very threatening to nervous dogs, small dogs or just any dog who may be having an off moment. If your dog behaves like this don’t just say “oh my dog is just being friendly” have your dog on a leash because most dogs don’t appreciate a whirl wind of energy jumping up in their personal space.
Take some responsibility and leash your dog until it has learnt not to default to this kind of overwhelming behaviour. Leashing your dog is also protecting your dog from unwanted bites from the nervous dogs that may not like having paws flying all over them.
5. Please keep puppies out of the park
Let’s be honest, puppies are hard to control. They are cute, but to put it frankly older dogs often think they’re a terrible pain. Plus, pups who haven’t had all their shots can be exposed to diseases.
Wait until your pup is at least 6 months old before you go. The dog park isn’t the place to learn socialisation, however it is a good place to practice being social once your puppy has grown up and learnt to behave accordingly around other dogs.
In the meantime keep your puppy leashed on dog walks instead of free range at the dog park where they are small and vulnerable.
6. What to do if a fight breaks out
A fight can sadly can be a common occurrence at the dog park!
Should a fight break out for more than a few seconds it’s time to get stop the dogs. Normally dogs may tell each other off with a snap or growl but this can escalate to an absolute fight within seconds. Immediately grab your water bottle to hose the dogs down and use sharp commands to ascertain you are boss/leader of the pack.
If water is unsuccessful, quickly instruct the other owner to grab their dog by it’s rear legs while you do the same and wheelbarrow your dogs moving apart backwards.
No matter what, please never reach for your dog’s collar to pull your dog away as you could be caught in the cross fire of the fight. It’s not worth getting yourself injured as you won’t be on top of your game driving your dog to the vet should they need immediate medical attention.
If your dog has been involved in more than one fight - It’s time to call it quits on off leash socialising your dog in a busy environment. Please only off leash your dog in remote areas and quiet times of the day where there would no dogs around. Ensure it is in a space where you could easily see another dog approaching from a distance so you are able to leash your dog.
We recommend you also have a muzzle on your leashed dog during walks when there are other dogs walking in close proximity to you.
7. What time to visit if your dog is nervous
If your dog is a little uneasy it may be worthwhile visiting the dog park early in the morning before the dog park is at full capacity. This will be more comfortable for your dog and allow you to have the upper hand noticing when it may be time to leave if you see the park becoming more busy with dogs.
We sincerely hope our dog park etiquette can offer you some guidance and insight for trips to dog friendly parks !
Love from Bijou and Co