Petiquette at the Dog Park and Beyond

pet park

Let’s be honest: It’s something of a small miracle that dog parks don’t turn into scenes of complete chaos.

How do dogs play so well with one another? With so many breeds and dogs of different sizes running around and chasing sticks, balls and knotted ropes, as well as engaging in all sorts of tomfoolery, it seems inevitable that something will go wrong.

Fights do break out here and there, of course. And some dogs are better behaved than others. But for the most part, dog parks are full of well-behaved pooches. That's often because people know to follow the basic dog park etiquette:

  • Always carry a plastic bag and pick up after your dog.
  • Be sure your dog obeys your commands and has adequate recall skills.
  • Be honest: Your dog might not have the social skills needed to safely get along in a dog park. Whether they’re overly aggressive or too shy, it might be best to avoid the parks.
  • Don’t bring a female dog who's in heat or pregnant to the park. Ditto for a male dog who hasn’t been neutered.
  • Your dog should be at least 12 weeks old and up to date on all vaccinations.
  • Always supervise your dog. (This means you need to put the phone away!) Even if you’re finally talking to the cute husky owner, be attentive.

Other social situations

What about other social situation that are more of a grey zone for pets? Above all, be considerate of other people. While many people will fawn over your pet, we live in a world where people have allergies and fears, while some just don’t like animals.

Unless your dog is a service dog, you should not bring him into indoor restaurants or stores. Of course, there are some places—pet stores, some big-box home improvement stores and others—that welcome canine shopping companions. Be sure to check before you go, and always keep your dog on a leash.

Speaking of leashes, there is some debate on dog-walking etiquette—namely, whether dogs should be allowed to go free on hiking trails.

"It's not advised to allow your dog to go off leash on hiking trails," says Charlotte Reed, the author of The Miss Fido Manners Complete Book of Dog Etiquette. "Not only because we need to take care of the fauna and flora, but because it's easy for dogs to be injured by wildlife such as bees and red ants if they go off trail."

No matter how well trained they are, dogs still have a wild streak in them. For their own safety and others, it’s best to keep them on a leash in all public situations.

Does your dog attend (or is about to attend) doggy daycare? If so, get some solid tips for making his stay as smooth as possible in the next post.


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