Taking a break from my regular blogging to write this instead. It’s a bit of a rant, but I also realize that a LOT of people don’t know a few very basic rules for being at the dog park. Since I’ve been at the dog park every day for several days I’ve seen a lot of these behaviors, and I thought, well hey, at least I can prevent my internet friends from being That Idiot At The Dog Park.
A no-nonsense PSA!
1. NO LEASHES ON DOGS INSIDE THE PARK. A dog on a leash is a lot more likely to get into a fight than a dog not on a leash. This is because it can feel threatened and lash out since it can’t easily get away if it needs to. Very often, a dog that starts fights on a leash never starts any off leash. Either take the leash off your dog, or don’t bring your dog to the dog park. If you are unsure how the dog will act, you’re not doing it any favors by having it on the leash. Take the leash off, but stay close enough to grab your dog and remove it from the park immediately if necessary. Stay calm, if you’re nervous, the dog will be nervous. NOTE: This can also apply to dogs being held in arms, but it’s not as common as dogs on leashes.
2. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR DOG. Know where he is and what he’s doing at all times. Too often I see people caught up in their book, playing on their phones or talking to other people not noticing their dogs being bullies, starting fights, or taking a giant dump in a high traffic area. STOP IT. The dog park is not your dog sitter. It is a place for your dog to exercise and socialize while you watch it exercise and socialize.
2B. IF YOUR DOG IS CAUSING PROBLEMS, REMOVE IT. Seriously. If your dog starts more than one fight, take him home immediately. If your dog won’t stop barking at other dogs that do anything besides breathe, take him home. If your dog won’t stop humping other dogs, take him home. If your dog is hoarding a toy and causing fights over it, take him home. Don’t be THAT person that can’t admit their dog is ruining the park for everyone else. Also, don’t be that person that takes forever to admit it – 15 minutes of an obnoxious behavior is MORE than enough to know it’s just not going to work out. TAKE. THE DOG. HOME.
3. PICK UP YOUR DOG’S POOP. I mean it. This is not hard, people. Put a plastic sack over your hand, and use it like a glove to pick up the poop. Hold your breath if you have to. Grip the poop in your hand/fist, then take the edge of the bag’s opening, pull it over your hand. Viola! Poop in a bag, and none of it touched you. Tie off the bag and throw it in a trashcan. Most dog parks have bag dispensers all around the park. THERE IS NO EXCUSE. Because trust me, people DO notice, especially when they end up with poop on their shoe, or all over their car because their dog stepped on it. Additionally, it’s gross, but it’s nature: some dogs eat poop. It’s a fact of life. But it’s not healthy for them to eat other dog’s poop. Help out the owners cursed with poop eaters by picking up the poop, K?
4. NO KIDS AT THE DOG PARK. This is not a hard and fast rule, but it should be treated as such because far too many people bring very small children, or older highly active children, neither of which observe proper dog park etiquette and do many no-no things that put them at risk of being injured by a dog. This is not the kid’s fault, nor the dogs’ fault. Neither know any better. Also the dog park is for the dogs and about the dogs – they are there to exercise and socialize with other dogs. They are NOT there to entertain or exercise your child.
4B. Now as I said, “No kids at the dog park” is not a hard and fast rule, so there are exceptions: a few, very few, children are naturals with dogs and know how to act around them; calm, quiet, slow moving, not chasing after, grabbing at, yelling at, or trying to hug the dogs. These children are OK to have at the park. If your child is not a natural but can learn to behave this way and will do so while at the dog park, that’s OK too. Just keep an eye on your children at all times and be ready to remind them of proper behavior when necessary. It could save your child’s life.
4c. Don’t bring your kids to the dog park if you’re not also bringing your dog. That’s just rude. Take your kids to a regular park. For kids. There’s less poop there, anyway.
Spread the word!