What You Need To Know About Dog Park Etiquette

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With the addition of Ryan Homes at Brunswick Crossing’s new dog park, we thought it best to share a few rules of puppy park etiquette:

  • Pick up after your pet. This is the most basic tip when it comes to proper puppy park etiquette. Dog waste harbors a lot of disease and parasites that other pups can roll around in, sniff, and accidentally eat. Avoid the spread of sickness by picking up after your pet and disposing of it immediately.
  • Practice greeting skills. You don’t like it when someone uninvitedly comes too close to you or if they’re loud and aggressive in their communication. These unwelcome, impolite gestures are mirrored with dog behavior.

    Introductions are important and make a difference in how dogs will get along,” according to Mother Nature Network.

    “Allowing your dog to [charge] up to a dog that has just entered the park is rude. The new dog is possibly on edge, examining its environment and level of safety, so your dog running full speed to that new dog could be asking for an instant fight.”

    Another unwelcome display of dominance is mounting or sniffing. Ensure that your pup is well-mannered with their greeting skills before you attend the dog park.
  • Let them off their leash, especially if it has a prong collar or harness attached to it. The neck and shoulders are where most dogs play-bite, which could lead to injuries if you keep these metal contraptions on.

    It’s also important to take off the leash if you’re in an off-leash area -- even if it’s retractable. Many dog owners believe it’ll be easier to control their four-legged friend if they’re on a leash, but it’s a huge tripping hazard. A panicked pup could mean a broken leg.
  • Don’t bring dogs who aren’t ready to play. This includes female dogs who are pregnant or in heat, puppies that are less than 12 weeks old, or dogs with incomplete vaccinations. This could lead to unwelcome pregnancy, injuries, or illnesses like distemper, worms, parvo, or Giardia.  

    Don't worry though! Many dog owners are responsible enough to keep unready pups at home until they're ready.
  • Treat small dogs with care. Don’t pick up and carry a small dog. According to Mother Nature Network, “The act of small dogs being lifted up triggers a treeing instinct in many dogs, moving them...into prey drive and exciting them into jumping on you to get at the small dog. 

    In a dog park, where all dogs are extra stimulated and excited, picking up a small, panicked dog could be enough to get you knocked over or possibly even bitten.”

    Also, be cautious about allowing them to play with big dogs, especially if the park doesn’t have separate sections. Small pups can be seen as prey by larger dogs.
  • Don’t let dogs “work it out”. You might that think dogs can workout whatever social drama is going on, but humans should interfere more often than they think. This stimulating place can arouse innate reactions like mounting to dominate, which isn’t “figuring out the chain of command”.

    It’s rude by dog and human standards, but don't worry. You can take your dog to training classes if they have trouble playing with others. 
  • Teach your canine to share. Pups that have resource-guarding issues should stay at home until they learn to share their toys and/or treats.
  • Watch your dog. If you’re at the dog park, it’s not the time to scroll through your phone. You have to watch your dog to ensure that he or she is showing manners, playing properly, and sharing their territory.