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Dog Park Etiquette and How To Prepare Your Dog

Dogs on leash in the Park
Are you a new dog owner? If you are, then you’re probably looking forward to taking your new pal to the dog park. As you should!

Before taking your dog to the dog park, know that there’s such a thing as dog park etiquette. Often, the general behavior of other dogs will clue you and Spike in on the park’s etiquette. However, without preparation, your dog may be the center of attention — and not in a good way.

Your pal doesn’t have to be the most unwanted dog in the park, though. By following these simple tips, your pal will be the life of the party — and you’ll earn the title of “best dog owner” among your co-dog owners!

Ready to be an awesome and well-mannered paw duo at the dog park? Let’s get started!

Visit the Park … Without Your Dog

An assessment of the dog park will give you clues about the overall vibe of the place. This is important because the park needs to match your dog’s energy level. You’ll also see whether or not fights will be an issue once you bring your dog.

More importantly, the visit will expose you to the dog park rules and regulations. You’ll want to write these down, so you can compare them to other dog parks’ rules.

Since you’re visiting the place to know more about it, you’ll want to visit the park without your dog first, so you don’t lead him into an environment both of you are unaware of.

How to Know If Your Dog is Ready for the Dog Park?

Temperament and Age

Even as a new dog owner, you’ll get an idea of what your dog is like. Is it curious by nature? Does it snarl when people get close to you? Do they act like there’s caffeine in the doggie bowl?

You get the idea. By knowing how your furry friend reacts, you’ll know how to prepare your dog for the dog park.

For example, if you have a Chow-Chow which is known for its being territorial, you may want to think twice about going to a park with lots of dogs. On the other hand, you’ll want to choose a wider and more spacious park if you’re the proud owner of a Goldie.

Age also plays a factor. As tempting as it may be, taking your dog to the park while it’s still a pup isn’t a good idea. While your fellow doggo-philic peers will find your pup adorable, “more experienced” dogs won’t be as friendly.

Start Socialization Small

Socialization is both behaviors towards the owner (this means you) and other dogs. Social development and training can commence early. In the absence of a dog park, start socialization small. By “small,” we mean when they’re puppies and with a small group of dogs.

Indeed, you can’t bring a pup to the park. However, you can begin planting the seeds of socialization by starting early with a small group of dogs. The dogs don’t need to be of the same breed as yours. They should just be roughly the same age. It won’t hurt if they’re roughly the same size either.

Make Your Dog a “Chill” Dog

Contrary to popular belief, the dog park should not be the dog’s only avenue for physical activity. The reason for this is that dogs become active when they’re energized. When they’re acting like they’ve had more coffee than you have, dogs can be:

  • Agitated in the presence of other dogs
  • A source of agitation for other dogs

Your dog doesn’t need to be exhausted going into the park. You’ll want your dog tired but just to the point where they’ve got enough energy to move around. This state is where you need them to be if you want them to be social around dogs. After all, socialization is the main purpose of a dog park — not exercise.

Granted, you won’t always know if your dog is in the physical state to be social. Nonetheless, the way to induce a bit of fatigue is to walk to the park when possible. If you can, you can take the long way around.

Leave Toys, Food, and In-Heat Dogs at Home

Additional objects like chew toys can be distractions. Worse yet, fights can break loose over the new object.

The same is true when it comes to food. Leave food at home because other canines will be chomping at the bit (literally) to see what’s on the menu.

If you are bringing treats, make sure that they’re in a sealed container. Also, choose dry treats that don’t emit a strong smell. Humans won’t mind, but other dogs are going to notice even the faintest scents. It won’t be long until you’re like the Pied Piper for the park’s dogs.

It’s also not a good idea to bring dogs that are in heat to the dog park. They can attract other dogs just as much as food, treats, and toys do.

Clean Up After Your Dog

For us, one of the hallmarks of being well-mannered is being able to pick up after ourselves. It’s no different for your dog, except they won’t be cleaning up. You will be.

Cleaning up is a non-negotiable rule of dog park etiquette. For this reason, be prepared by equipping yourself with plastic bags and other items for picking up your dog’s excrement.

Dog Park Etiquette Makes Socializing Your Dog a Walk in the Park

By doing your homework and gauging your dog’s temperament, you can check to see if they’re ready to be social. Being social requires your dog to be physically prepared for the experience. This is why a bit of exercise before going to the park helps.

When you’re heading to the park, take nothing more than your dog and things you’ll need to clean up. Do this, and your furry pal and yourself will avoid unwanted sniffs and snarls.

Are you ready for the dog park? Make it a positive experience for yourself and your canine companion!

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