Dog Park Etiquette

By Amy Wakley-Ahearn

Off-leash dog parks can be a great way to socialise your pooch. They provide an opportunity for your pet to run around with other dogs, experience a variety of smells and sounds and generally enjoy themselves. And they give you a chance to meet other dog lovers and have a bit of a chat.

Like all social things, there’s a bit of etiquette involved.

  • Make sure you’re your dog will respond to their name or at least to your voice. You need to have a good level of control over your dog to ensure you can keep him, and other dogs, safe.
  • Know your breed. Certain dogs, like greyhounds, should only ever be off-leash in enclosed areas because they are sight-hounds. They may spot something some distance away and tear off, ending lost or in a dangerous situation. Greyhounds are also legally required to be muzzled in public; this includes dog parks!
  • Be respectful of other dog owners and their comfort levels. If your dog likes to play chase but this makes their owner uncomfortable, step in and divert your dog’s behaviour.
  • Only take your dog once he’s shown you that he’s ok with meeting other dogs. Don’t make his first experience with other animals an overwhelming one.
  • Watch her behaviour and cues. If she is refusing to leave your side, she probably isn’t enjoying the experience. That’s okay! Take her home and maybe try again when there are fewer pooches in the park.
  • Exercise your dog before you go. That way, they aren’t full of beans on arrival and can be a bit more chilled with the other dogs.
  • Make sure your doggo is up to date with her vaccinations. You’ll be protecting her from illness as well as any other dogs she might encounter.
  • Assess the numbers. If there is a big crowd already in the enclosure, come back at another time.
  • Don’t get too distracted chatting with other dog owners. It’s a great place to make new friends but it’s even more important that you keep an eye on your pup to make sure they are safe and well behaved.
  • Consider your dog’s personality. Are they very shy or do they tend towards aggression under certain circumstances? Dog parks are a positive experience for many pooches, but they won’t suit all dogs.
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