Friday, November 6, 2015

Dog Park Etiquette

One of my favorite activities to do with Starla is going to dog parks. Not only can does she get to socialize and play, but I also get to enjoy some nice outside time! I totally think that all dog owners need to find a good dog park and have some regular dog park outings with your pup. However, dog parks can also be a nightmare if someone is there with an aggressive dog or is disrespectful. 

For example,


I teamed up with my blogging bud, Laura, to discuss Dog Park Etiquette. Let's start with the basics.

Always keep your dog in eyesight

I would hope that you would know this when you have a dog, but I've been shocked about how many owners just sit down, peek at their phones, and lose track of their dog. 

Watch your dog and other dog's body language

Definitely give your dog space to grow some independence and play with other dogs, but always be vigilant. Here's a great chart to reference if you aren't familiar with dog body language, are a new dog owner, or just need a refresher.

Anxious and nervous can easily move to agressive. Starla is a herding dog and pretty dominant. I have to make sure that she is playing with dogs that are okay with her play-style (herding & chasing) and make sure that no other dog gets frightened, anxious, or aggressive with her. For example, she loves chasing dogs that are playing fetch and herding them. Many dog just want to play fetch without someone nipping at their heels (Laura's dog!) so I have to make sure that the dog that she's trying to herd doesn't mind. Otherwise, I call her off and keep moving. 

Be courteous to other owners

We're all there for our dogs, so be courteous to your fellow dog owners. Please, don't smoke at the dog park. The second-hand smoke is not good for other humans or the dogs. Also, keep the phone chatter at home. 

No treats!

I'm sure some people will disagree with me on this but here's why. I know it’s nice to use these parks as a training ground while socializing your dog. And what’s the number one source we all use to train our dogs? Treats! However, what's one of the top reasons for dog-on-dog aggression? Protecting their treats/food. 

Secondly, most dogs can sniff out treats pretty easily. So then there's a herd of dogs following one person. Starla's definitely followed a poor guy around for a good five minutes before I had to physically walk her away from him. 

If you do want to break my rule and bring treats, do not feed other dogs the treats! You don't know what allergies this dog has, if it's on a diet, anything about this other dog. Unless the owner specifically says that it's okay for you to give their dog a treat, don't even think about it.

Save the treats for when you get home and your dog has cooled down. I'm a huge fan of all Natural Balance products. If you haven't tried these dental chews, you need to try them now! Starla's breath is totally under control, they're grain-free, and the perfect size for a quick chew.

Get them at!

Take them off leash!

It's an off-leash park, so let you dogs off their leashes! A lot of owners who aren't comfortable will keep their dogs on a leash, but honestly that's not the best way. A dog on leash is essentially a tripping hazard, especially if the leashed dog begins to play. A scared dog can also get wrapped up in the leash and can hurt themselves. Don't get me started on retractable leashes, either. There are so many reasons to not even have a retractable leash in the first place. 

In addition, dogs on leash can feel more insecure because they know they can't escape if they need to, so they can actually trigger fights that might not otherwise have happened. 

If you, as an owner follow these few rules, your dog park outings will be much more successful and you'll have a happy, socialized, and tired pup!

Now go head over to Laura's way to see her dog park etiquette tips for dogs!

Have you ever had any bad dog park experiences? What tips do you have to give to other owners about dog parks?

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