Finding a safe place for your dog to run off-leash can be challenging. That’s why it is important to ensure that your local dog park is a welcoming haven for your dog. You can do your part to make sure your dog park is THE place for well-mannered dogs and their responsible people through dog park etiquette.
Prep Your Dog for Dog Park Visits:
• Hone your dog’s socialization skills by enrolling him in a dog obedience class taught by a certified trainer who uses positive reinforcement techniques before introducing him to a dog park.
• Stage mini-training sessions with your dog to make sure he heeds your “come here” cue anywhere and on or off leash. Build on each level of success, starting first inside your home, then your fenced backyard and eventually, when he is running off-leash in a dog park.
• Enlist the aid of a well-mannered dog to teach your dog how to properly play and interact. Seek out a friend or a dog trainer who has such a dog to serve as your dog’s “big brother” who can teach your dog manners in a secure setting before bringing your dog to a dog park.
• Acknowledge that a dog park is not the place to try to work out the aggressive tendencies in your dog. He needs one-on-one professional training to address aggression before earning the right to be in a dog park.
Bolster Your Dog’s Manners:
• Intentionally leave your dog’s favorite toy or treat at home to reduce his chance of showing resource guarding tendencies to the other dogs at the park.
• Have him go into a sit and possibly, shake paws, when meeting people at the dog park.
• Resist feeling tense or nervous. Our dogs read our emotions. Enter the park with a calm, confident attitude to show your dog that you are his benevolent leader.
Enhance Your Welcome:
• Spend time in the dog park with your dog, being near him and engaging him in play.
• Pick up your dog’s “deposits” promptly in receptacles.
• Resist texting or talking on your cell phone, reading the newspaper, eating a meal or engaging in any other type of behavior that prevents you from supervising your dog.
• Resist bringing in more than two dogs into the park. You need to be able to intervene if one gets into a fight.
• Avoid getting into an argument with another person about a poop deposit that has not been picked up. Instead, employ kindness by picking up the poop to keep the dog park clean.
• Offer to coordinate a monthly dog park cleanup event.
From Arden Moore, The Pet Health and Safety Coach