If you’re an urban or suburban dog owner, you’re likely familiar with the local dog park. It’s a canine oasis, where your leash-less pet is free to sniff, run and socialize with other dogs. Some parks post specific rules on signs, but dog park courtesy is mostly common sense.
You and your pooch will be welcomed at any dog park if you practice basic dog-park etiquette:
- Should your pet show signs of illness or a contagious disease, don’t bring him/her to the park.
- Don’t bring a puppy less than four months old or a female dog in heat.
- Keep an eye on your dog! Don’t let your dog be aggressive with another dog.
- Obviously, you should pick up after your dog.
- Don’t bring food for yourself or your dog.
- Bring a portable water bowl for your dog – water bowls at dog parks carry the risk of communicable illnesses.
- Keep your small dog in the designated small-dog section of the park – even if he/she enjoys hanging out with the big dogs.
- Bring a ball, but be prepared to lose it.
- Don’t let your dog run in a pack. Intervene when play starts to get too rough.
If you haven't found your local dog park, ask around or see what you can find online. If you can't find one, start your own! If you're taking your puppy to the dog park, make sure you're on the right track with his socialization. Remember, your puppy should be at least four months old before you start bringing him to the dog park.
For advice on teaching your dog to politely meet other dogs, check out the video below from Canine Good Citizen.