Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dog Park Ettiquette

Those of you who know me, are aware that I have a weekend ritual that plays out every Saturday and Sunday morning. I have three whippets that are a part of my family and a huge part of my life. Each weekend morning is spent at the local dog park. Over the past five years, I’ve learned a lot about dog park behavior. Some of it is etiquette, some of it is behavior, and some are just lessons that others really need to learn.
  • Always, always, always clean up after your dog. You brought it in, you are responsible for it. And I don’t want to step in it. It can also spread disease. Be responsible.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask someone for a bag if you don’t have one.
  • CLOSE THE GATE BEHIND YOU! There is a reason for the gate. It’s not for your sake, it’s to keep the other dogs in.
  • If you’ve never used a gate fork latch, the way to use it is pull UP then DOWN to the right. It’s not rocket science. You’re just lazy.
  • Watch your dog. Do not sit and read a book. Do not get tied up on a phone call.
  • Learn to read your dog and others in the park. Are tails wagging? Or are hackles up?
  • Do not let your dog run with others when on a retractable leash. These leashes are dangerous. Especially when they are playing with other dogs.
  • Friendly dogs hurt too. Sometimes dogs can play rough. Even though they may not be aggressive, they can still hurt other dogs or people.
  • Just because your small dog is comfortable around big dogs does not mean it’s safe. See bullet above.
  • Just because your child is comfortable around big dogs does not mean it’s safe. See second bullet above.
  • Good dog owners go in the morning. Okay - so I’m not saying that if you go in the afternoon that your a bad owner. I’m saying that the regulars who make the effort to get up early and go tend to pay more attention. The afternoon crowd are usually just on their way to the beach or park and decide to take their dog. They are there for a different reason.
  • Talk to the other dog owners. Most people LOVE to talk about their dogs. It will help put them at ease about your dog if they feel you are a good dog owner.
  • Don’t forget to ask about their dog. A simple, “what’s his name,” or “how old is she” goes a long way. Other people’s dogs are just as important to them as yours are to you. Keep this in mind when you are talking to other dog owners.
  • In addition to cleaning up after your dog, clean up after yourself. Do not leave your water bottles, worn out dog toys, food wrappers or trash in the park. Save your trash so you can litter in your own front yard.
While you have a lot of responsibility during your visit, your dogs are there to have fun. Enjoy your trip to the park. This is the time you get to spend with your best friends.

1 comment:

Myc said...

A little frustrated there Chris? But all good points. There is sort of a public interest in publicly stating the etiquette of a place. We all assume that everyone knows, but...