During the summer, we’re blessed with more light hours in the day, which for dog owners means more time to spend with your pup outside before or after work. The dog park has become a regular gathering place for city-dwellers to enjoy the first or last few hours of light, and gather their thoughts for the day ahead or let go of some stress.
Not only is this ‘social hour’ for Fido, but a great time for dog owners to meet up with friends, or to make some new ones. But do you know the etiquette for dog parks? If you plan to spend your summer evenings in one, listen up to these great tips:
1. Keep your dog on-leash until you get to the designated area. This is not just respectful to other park users; it’s much safer for your dog. Dog fights are more likely when a leashed dog is approached by one that’s off leash, because the balance of power is disrupted.
2. Don’t serve your dog food or treats at the park – it’s one of the biggest causes of scuffles and full-blown dog fights. Instead, keep some tasty dog biscuits like Nuzzles handy as a treat when you leave.
3. Unless you have a tough, self-confident smaller dog who can roll with the big guys, it’s usually better to have your pooch play with dog friends of the same size – most parks usually have a big dog section and small dog section and it’s for a good reason. Too much of a size difference between playmates can increase the risk of accidental injury even if the roughhousing is all in good humor.
4. Never leave your dog unattended – while the dogs are free to roam (it’s their territory!), you never know when your dog may encounter a dog having a bad day. Hone your dog whispering skills and be ready to step in if the energy of play starts to change. Growling can be a normal part of play but glaring or turning the head away and staring out of the corner of the eye can be a sign of a looming problem.
5. Always clean up after your dog – most parks have bags or scoopers, but it’s best to have one or two of your own. There are some great eco-friendly options on the market nowadays.
6. Try to prevent excessive barking; it can spoil other park-goers’ quiet enjoyment of the area and also raise the stress level among the pups who just want to play.
7. Dogs younger than four months should stay at home, or be kept on leash. They won’t yet have full immunity to all the possible diseases that can lurk at the dog park. While socialization is important, their ‘puppy manners’ might offend some of the golden oldies, too!
8. If it’s a warm day, a bowl of cool water is essential for post-play cool down. There are some great park-friendly options for serving your own bottle of water on the go – and having your own supply of water reduces the risk of your pup picking up an infection by slurping from the communal fountain.
9. Better yet, make up a cool drink of Ice Pups treats ahead of time and serve when you get back to the car – they hydrate and nourish after exertion and taste delicious, too!
10. Close all gates to the dog park or dog run after entering or exiting.
11. If your dog becomes unruly or plays too roughly (to the extent he’s bothering other attendees), leash him and leave immediately.
12. Always observe all of the rules posted at your local dog park. Each town has its own set of regulations: if you go to the wrong park at the wrong time, or take off the leash when you shouldn’t, the fines can be quite stinging!
Whether you’re visiting Los Angeles’ Laurel Canyon or New York City’s Central Park, we hope you enjoy summer dates with your pups safely and respectfully.