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DOG / fun & fashion

Dog Park Etiquette

Tips and manners for safe public play with your pooch

Overview

Healthy dogs only

Make sure your pet is fully vaccinated before you head to the dog park. Also, check the rules at your local park: Some don’t allow puppies younger than four months old.

Never take a female dog who’s in heat, or she’ll attract unwanted attention from any non-neutered males. If you have male dog that hasn’t been neutered, keep an eye on him.

Dress down

No matter how snappy a dresser your doggie may be, remove any harnesses, gear or clothes, so nothing will snag on fences, branches or other dogs. However, never take off your dog’s collar or ID tag.

Mind their manners

“Let your pet play with the other dogs, but watch (their) body language and look for signs of fearful or aggressive behavior,” says Dr. Robyn Jaynes, PetSmart Services Veterinarian. “This means always keeping an eye on your dog and not letting them get too far out of reach.”

If you have multiple dogs, only bring as many as you can manage at one time.

Keep in mind that dogs have different personalities. Some dogs in the park may not want to interact with yours at all, in spite of your pet’s obvious beauty and charm.

If your pet begins to growl, show teeth, or behave aggressively, it’s time to move them to another area of the dog park. If the aggressive behavior doesn’t stop, or if your dog seems overly fearful, it may be best to avoid the park and try some training classes first, to help socialize your pet.

No toys; no kids

Leave your dog’s playthings at home because dogs can get jealous if other pets want their belongings. If another pet has a toy and your dog is eyeing it, it may be time to head to the other end of the park.

Leave small children at home, too. Dogs are likely to be excited and your tot might take a tumble if bumped by a passing pinscher or distracted dachshund. Since you don’t know if any particular dog is child-friendly, it’s generally best to keep kids at a safe distance from unfamiliar pets.

Mind the gate and scoop the poop

Many dog parks feature a double set of entry gates to keep pups safely inside. Let others pass through before you enter and make sure you close the gates behind you. And if your dog makes a mess, clean it up immediately. Bring a plastic bag or two so you can take care of your dog’s business.

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