Don't Make These Mistakes at the Dog Park!

Dog parks are supposed to be a fun, laid back environment for pups to play without worry.

But alas, that’s not always the case. Bad behavior at the dog park exists- and I’m not talking about the canine guests.

Sometimes, the human guests are the ones that act the fool, with small actions that can lead to unnecessary doggone drama.

A dog barks at another dog at the park

How can you avoid being “that guy” at the dog park?

No need to raise hackles- just get in the know!  Most of the time, pet owners exhibit bad dog park etiquette unintentionally. It doesn’t mean they are bad pet owners!

Here is a list of the most common mistakes humans make at the dog park and how to avoid them.

1. Forgetting to bring poop bags

We’ve all been there: that moment your dog needs to defecate out in public, and all eyes are on you to see how you handle it. 

If you are in tune with proper pet etiquette, you have poop bags tucked away for this very occasion. 

At the dog park, when a pet owner whips out a bag and stoops down to clear away the mess, you can almost hear the collective sigh of relief as other humans begin to relax.

But alas, there are pet owners who forget to bring poop bags and are forced to retreat in shame when their fur pal decides to go numero dos at the dog park.

This is one of the most common dog park no-no’s. Luckily, there are poop bags that come in a compact roll. You can clip it to your leash like a key chain, making it next to impossible to forget on your outings.

2. Bringing a puppy or dog that is not vaccinated

Two dogs play together at the park

A big issue that can get overlooked is vaccinations. Indoor dog parks and outdoor dog parks are hotspots for diseases because, duh, numerous dogs are clustered in one place.

Add the playful nipping, slobbering and wrestling, and well- you’ve got the perfect recipe to spread common diseases, such as worms.

For young puppies under 12 weeks old with budding immune systems, many diseases can affect them more intensely than they would an older dog. Therefore, staying on top of immunizations is imperative.

If you’ve never brought your dog to a park, dog boarding or even doggie daycare- always make it a priority to take her to the vet beforehand for a full check up and vaccine updates.

3. Keeping leashes, harnesses or prong collars on your dog

The beauty of a dog park is the freedom. Finally, our canine companions have their very own space to be free of the leash!

Ironically, some people will insist on keeping the leash attached, even in the play area. This also goes for wearable equipment, like prong collars or harnesses.

Of course, pet owners want an easy way to quickly snap a leash on, but the safest way to do so is with a simple nylon collar.

Leashes will naturally cause dogs to get tangled, which can lead to fights. As well, harnesses and prong collars feature metal pieces that can be accidentally bit during play, causing harm.

4. Bringing a dog that lacks greeting skills

The dog park is an environment of high stimulation. If your dog is still new to the concept and you’re working on socialization skills, dog greetings set the tone for your pup’s time at the park. 

Tell me, how do you like it when you meet a person for the first time and they proceed to hold and shake your hand for a little too long or they stand awkwardly too close when speaking to you?

Dog covering eyes

You might find that person to be rude, and guess what- the same goes for dogs when they first meet. 

Whether your dog is shy and nervous (which can lead to aggressive reactions) or your dog is too overbearing, help your dog transition to the dog park and reinforce good behavior.

Some pawrents feel that they can let their dog run wild while they chat with other human guests or sit on their phones. 

It’s important to pay attention to your dog and step in when tension rises. Letting dogs “work it out” themselves is not a smart tactic, as it can lead to aggression. 

As well, it’s important to reinforce good behavior during these instances, and by stepping in, your dog learns what’s acceptable. No one likes a dog park bully!

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