Dog Park Etiquette
Off leash dog parks can be a great means to allow your dog some social time with other dogs and humans alike, as well as to allow your dog to expend some of its energy. Here are a few tips for visiting a dog park with your canine companion, so that it’s a positive experience for them!
- Learn to read dog body language, and actively supervise your dog during your visit to ensure that your dog is comfortable, safe, and enjoying themselves. This is a great time to actively engage with your dog and others, and get in some quality time with your pooch!
- Wander throughout the dog park. When owners stand still, dogs may form a territory around them, which can lead to protective behaviours. Dogs that are not normally protective may act out when owners congregate together. Instead, it's best to continuously circulate throughout the dog park to avoid dogs becoming territorially aggressive.
- Clean up after your dog! Keeping the park clean not only improves the experience for everyone, it also helps prevent the spread of disease, such as parasites.
- Know the specific etiquette and protocols at the dog park that you attend. Check signage for any specific rules, unique to each park. For fenced-in dog parks, this may mean keeping your dog on leash until they are through the fence. For unfenced dog parks, make sure you know the boundaries where dogs must be back on leash. This is critical to keep wildlife safe, and to keep you safe from wildlife. Off leash dogs can disturb wildlife like grouse, or agitate bigger animals like bears, coyotes, elk or deer. Any one of these could then chase your dog right back to you!
- Keep a leash on your person, and be ready to step in if your dog needs to be leashed up. If your dog is getting too rowdy, or is overwhelmed and frightened, be ready to leash your dog up and head out of the dog park before these behaviours escalate and make for a negative experience for your dog.
- It is highly advisable to steer clear from dog parks if your dog is too young to be vaccinated, or is unfixed. Unvaccinated animals are susceptible to catching diseases from other dogs. While unfixed dogs are not necessarily aggressive or misbehavors, these dogs send off biological hormonal scents that may be perceived as threatening signals to other dogs. Otherwise friendly dogs may react strongly when a dog that has not been spayed or neutered has been in the park, setting off poor behaviours in others.
Enjoy the dog parks with your pooches!