Furry Manners: Dog Park Etiquette

Furry Manners: Dog Park Etiquette
(Eric Isselee/Shutterstock)
Bill Lindsey
A trip to the local off-leash park is a great adventure for you and the pooch, especially when you both know that good behavior will help you meet new friends.

Be Aware

While many dogs love the freedom to run off leash and play with other dogs in a safe, fenced environment, others may be shy or frightened until they become accustomed to the situation. Frantic tugging at the leash to get away from nearby dogs or angry barking is an indication it’s time to go home.
Trying to force the dog to “have fun” may only make matters worse. Comfort and reassure your pooch with hugs and verbal soothing.

Be Prepared

Pack essential items such as water, a water bowl, and some treats for training purposes, and share them with the other pups. Use a harness and leash to control the dog; a leash attached to a collar can place undue strain on his or her neck. Some harnesses even allow you to pick up a smaller dog if needed. Bring a hat and water for yourself.

Have Fun

Encourage your dog to play with others while under your supervision; don’t just unclip the leash and start checking emails. Bring a toy, ball, or Frisbee to toss for them to chase. Many dogs love cavorting with their owners, so wear running shoes and have some one-on-one playtime. Dog people know that our pups see us as their best friends and love spending quality time with us, so make trips to the dog park a frequent adventure.

Drop the Toy!

Some dogs are a bit more conniving than others, so keep an eye out to make sure your pup isn’t losing its toys, or worse, that he or she isn’t sneakily stealing from other dogs. Socialization is important for a well-adjusted dog, so insist on playing nicely with the other pups as well as people.
Pet owners love to meet other dogs, so encourage yours to be open to making new human friends.

Pups Only

The puppy park is a ton of fun for furry friends, but don’t try to make it a playground for kids. Not all pet owners want their dogs interacting with other people, especially if they’re in the process of training their pup. In addition to many dogs running amok, there are doggy “byproducts” to be aware of and avoid as well; your dog knows to avoid them, but little Timmy might not.
Bill Lindsey is an award-winning writer based in South Florida. He covers real estate, automobiles, timepieces, boats, and travel topics.