Whether you’re a dog owner in the city or the suburbs, chances are you’re familiar with your local dog park. It’s a canine playground — a place where your dog is free to sniff, run around and meet other dogs.
With dog parks opening back up throughout the country, it’s important to know basic etiquette when interacting with other canines. In this case, it is not just a matter of social formality. Failing to comply can put your dog and other pets at risk.
The American Kennel Club offers the following tips to ensure that your next trip to the dog park is a safe and enjoyable one:
Use your judgment
If your puppy is less than 4 months old, you should avoid dog parks. Puppies this young are susceptible to illness and/or disease. Also, should your dog show any signs of illness or a contagious disease, don’t bring her to the park, where she could infect other dogs.
Stay in designated areas
Dog parks usually have separate sections for small and large dogs. Keep your dog in the designated area depending on her size. Even if you feel that your dog behaves well around all sizes of dogs, you don’t want to make anyone else uncomfortable.
Don’t bring snacks
Don’t bring food for yourself or your dog. This can be a tease to the other dogs and potentially cause aggressive behavior.
Be careful around intact dogs
Some dogs can behave aggressively when an intact dog is present, so you may want to avoid the dog park if your dog is not spayed or neutered. Instead, try taking your dog for a long walk, playing with her favorite toy, or teaching her a new trick for added mental stimulation.
Keep a close eye
Watch your dog closely to be sure she is not becoming aggressive with another dog. Do not hesitate to intervene if play starts to get too rough. Sometimes you need to give your dog a quick timeout to regroup and calm down before returning to play.
Bring a toy
Feel free to bring a ball or other toy to the dog park, but be prepared to lose it. You may not want to bring your dog’s favorite toy if she is possessive of it.
Keep your dog hydrated
Bring a portable water bowl for your dog and offer her water often. Water bowls at dog parks carry the risk of communicable illnesses. By bringing your own bowl, you can help prevent illness in your dog.
Always pick up after your dog, even if other owners are not doing the same.
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