Dog Park Dos and Don'ts: For Starters, Don't Bring a GunPublished August 6, 2010
An off-duty officer recently shot a Husky that was playing rough. Do we deem this dog park rage? Help stop this bad human behavior from becoming common with some simple etiquette. An off-duty officer in a Maryland fatally shot a Siberian Husky - who he felt was being too rough with his leashed German Shepherd, this week.
Now, this instance is being investigated, so we still don't know the officer's name, if he was drunk, or if perhaps, maybe possibly, he was justified in defending his dog. But with a gun? Dare I call this a case of dog park rage (which really, shouldn't even be a series of words that make sense strung together)?
From my experience on online dog communities, I know that dog park etiquette tends to be a controversial topic.
But at its core, the dog park is a fun place for humans to meet each other and talk about poop ("non dog people" don't seem to appreciate poop conversations). It is also a great place for your dog to blow off some steam (which is something you should think about too, especially if you've been feeling the nagging urge to shoot stuff lately), make friends and socialize.
However, it is a good, safe idea to practice common sense at the dog park... like oh, say, not bringing your gun along.
Here are a few unwritten dog park laws. If people followed them, dog parks would be a lot less controversial. And never, ever the setting for anything more serious than the occasional well-meaning leg hump.
- Bring a dog on a leash into the dog park. There is a reason dog parks have double gates. 1. So dogs are less likely to get out. 2. To give you a chance to take your dog off the leash before you come in. Dogs are more likely to start fighting when one is on a leash. It's a territorial thing. This is my BIGGEST peeve. About 80% of issues that I've seen at the park started because of a dog on a leash. For more on this, see DO:Study dog behavior before you go to the dog park.
- Bring an aggressive or possessive dog to the park. Please, if you know your dog has these issues, just DON'T! If you do and you see that it makes others uncomfortable, leave.
- Bring small children, if you can avoid it. Sure, your toddler loves his awesome yellow lab. Sadly, that doesn't mean every dog at the park is going to love him. It also doesn't mean that he won't get stuck in a dog stampede.
- Bring treats to the park. Training at the park is a great idea, but treats at the park are not. You're likely to get mobbed.
- Wear nice clothes to the dog park. And if you do, DON'T complain about getting them dirty. It's inevitable.
- Steal toys and water bowls. I mean really people? You are going to steal a chewed up soccer ball from the dog park?
- Bring very young puppies (under 6 months) to the park. Yes. Your puppy is VERY cute. I'll be the first one to fawn over him. But bringing him to the dog park is not the best idea. Puppies don't have all their shots. Puppies are fragile. Look up a puppy playgroup in your area instead (after your pup had all his shots of course!) A playgroup is a much better alternative to the dog park at this early stage.
- Study dog behavior before you go to the dog park. Too many times have I seen people freak out over nothing. Not all barking, growling, teeth showing and rough play means a potential problem. Also, not all tail wagging and sniffing mean a friendship. Learn a bit about dog body language before you go.
- Go regularly. After a few visits you will make friends and so will your dog. You'll worry a lot less how your dog is going to react when he's with a pack he is used to.
- Bring extra poop bags. Even if your park has them... sometimes they run out. I am not a fan of stepping in dog crap, are you?
- Tell an owner when their dog is taking a dump. No, it's not rude. There are times when you just don't notice your dog go. If I don't notice the squat, I always appreciate it when someone nudges me.
- Pay attention to your dog. Yes, you make friends at the park and you want to chat. That doesn't mean you should forget the main reason you're there. Keep an eye on your dog at all times.
- Know when to leave. If a dog shows up that makes you uncomfortable, go for a walk.
- Bring water with you. Some dog parks don't have a water supply. If yours is like ours and does not have water - bring your own. And bring enough for other dogs too.
- Be careful entering and leaving. I still can't believe how many people don't close the gate behind them!
THESE THINGS HAPPEN
- Humping. Your dog WILL hump or GET humped. Boys will hump boys and girls. Don't sweat it. Humping is more often a dominance thing than a sexual thing. Just pull off your dog and redirect his attention. Make sure NEVER to bring a bitch in heat to the dog park.
- Getting peed on. This is no doubt absolutely MORTIFYING. But it happens. Make sure you don't stand around motionless for too long.
- Your dog getting peed on. When you have a smaller dog that likes to run with the big guys - like mine does - at some point, he WILL get peed on. It's gross. Give him a bath when you get home.
What are your dog park pet peeves?