The popularity of dog parks has increased in recent years. After all, what better place for dogs to stretch their legs while their “parents” chat away than a spot made just for them? If you’ve never been but are thinking of giving it a try, know that there are certain (written and unwritten) rules to follow. A bit like an etiquette guide of the canine world. These tips will not only be useful to make your first experience enjoyable, but can also help keep you and your pet safe on your first visit!
Check Out the Parks in Your Neighbourhood
Unfortunately, as for everything, not all dog parks are made are equal. There are some great ones while others are, well, let’s say, less enjoyable. Some are poorly maintained and could be dangerous for your pet (for example, if waste is littered on the ground, or if the fence is damaged, etc.). Take a look around the parks near you to see what’s happening there.
Do most dogs seem to be behaving well, or is this the place where aggressive, poorly controlled thugs meet? (Yes, we are pretty sure thugs exist in the canine world…). If your dog is small, it’s important to consider it. Is the park generally filled with large dogs that could frighten him? As a general rule, well fenced areas that are on the smaller size are safer and more reassuring, especially for dogs that are a little fearful or nervous. If possible, the first outing should be done outside of peak hours, so that your dog gets used to it. Evenings are often very busy, so morning or afternoon are probably best.
First thing to ask yourself: Is the dog park a good option for my pooch? If your pet is aggressive, overly anxious, not vaccinated or sick, it’s probably not the best place to have a good time! Everyone is responsible for their protégé’s behaviour at the dog park. If your loyal companion can’t follow basic commands and NEVER comes back when you call him, maybe a little more practice should be in the plans before planning an outing to the park. Recall is the most important command in that kind of environment. If you have a stubborn dog who systematically turns a deaf ear when you say his name, it may be difficult to intervene if a problem occurs. Since you don’t have control over other dog’s behaviour (or their owners…), you must be able to rely on the fact that your pup will obey. Practice at home with little treats (Psst! Crocx has some tasty ones) until your dog is a basic-command champion. Also get him used not to “bolt” when you take off his leash. He could scare the other dogs… and that’s the last thing you want.
Keep an Eye on Your Four-Legged Friend…At All Times
It wouldn’t occur to us to leave young children unsupervised in the park, would it? The same goes for your doggie! At all times, it’s essential to make sure your dog behaves in a reasonable and safe way. Therefore, no need to say it’s smart to leave your smartphone or book aside, in order to keep an eye on your fluffy friend. Of course, it is perfectly acceptable (and polite) to talk to your others while keeping an eye on your dog. However, you must always be able to intervene if your dog is caught in a fight, behaves aggressively or seems frightened or stressed. Several accidents in dog parks could be prevented by adequate surveillance. So keep an eye on your pup!
Keep it Clean
It seems obvious, but we all know someone who is guilty of not picking up after their pet! Dog parks are community areas that must be maintained by all users. Bring your bags to make sure that when you leave the park, you don’t leave any unwanted gifts behind. Some parks have water bowls. You can by help by filling them if they are empty and collecting waste on the ground if you see any. Last but not least, don’t forget to close the fence door! There are always one or two escape artists in the gang!
Finally, the dog park is first and foremost a space where your dog should have fun freely, socialize and burn a bit of energy. If your first experience is a success, you will both appreciate adding this new adventure to your routine. Hope you have a great time!