Dog Park Etiquette
A dog park can be great for dogs to burn off energy and play off leash with other dogs. Dog parks are also great for the owners to socialise with other dog lovers and their pets. Owners need to realise dog parks can be dangerous as well. Not all dogs get on and some dogs are bullies.
Here are some tips to reduce any incidents at the park
- Have a good recall
Some dogs don’t like groups or individual dogs rushing up so train your dog to come when called before they get into trouble with other dogs. Keep your dog focused on you once he is with you, then release him to play again. You should also teach your dog that it’s fun to play with you instead of playing with other dogs all the time.
- Know your dog
If you haven’t been to a dog park before ease into it. Go when it’s less busy. Observe how your dog reacts. If your dog is licking his lips, trying to hide behind you and yawning these are some of the signs your dog is afraid and wants to leave and you should listen. A fearful dog can become aggressive. People with dogs that are bullies should not go to off leash parks as fights will no doubt occur.
I have noticed some people just standing and talking and not taking note of their dog’s behavior or they say the dog needs to harden up. You wouldn’t like being put somewhere where you feel uncomfortable so please don’t do it to your dog. Think baby steps when you start socialising a fearful dog, start from afar so the dog gets used to seeing other dogs then move closer.
- Take responsibility of your dog
Always keep an eye on your dog. If your dog is stalking or humping the other dogs, call him off and move to another area of the park and do some focus work with them to calm their energy levels down then release. If the behavior persists leave the park to avoid any fights happening.
- Know the difference between playing and fighting
Dogs that are well socialized will display a relaxed posture and take turns chasing each other, and pause frequently to calm themselves down. Some dogs do get over excited and can go into prey drive so I recommend always breaking up play. Get your dog to focus on you then release. Dogs which are out to have a good time will take turns being on bottom when they’re wrestling. Dogs normally are good at telling each other to back off by showing their teeth or growling but some dogs don’t get the message so always keep an eye on both dogs to make sure both are happy to play.
A pet hate of mine which I hear from some pet owners at the park is the dogs will sort it out or the dogs are just playing. If you don’t want your dog to end up hurt you should intervene to avoid any fights breaking out. I highly recommend dog owners to learn a bit about dog body language so they know how their dog is feeling.