Dog Park Etiquette
The dog park can be a wonderful social experience for dogs but many dog owners are not aware of how the dog park should be used.
First of all, the dog park should never be used in place of just exercise. Some dog owners bring their dogs full of pent-up energy to burn it off at the dog park. For the sake of other dogs and their owners, this is not the way to do it.
Think of it this way, the dog park is already an extremely stimulating place with many different personalities of dogs. When dogs are brought to the dog park full of energy it can turn to anxiety, tensions rise and fights can break out. A better way to come to the dog park would be after a minimum forty-five minute structured walk or a good game of fetch.
***We are proposing one dog, or one family area(s), where excess energy can be run off prior to socializing with other dogs.
A dog showing too much excitement at the dog park can easily become a target for other dogs. That sort of excitement would not be permitted in a wild dog pack and the other members would be quick to correct any dog that was bouncing around, barking excessively or otherwise too excited The instinct to want to correct an excited dog can lead dogs to attack an excited dog .
Another thing that commonly causes fights at the dog park is possessive behavior surrounding a dog's owner. One of the three main causes of dog fights, aside from food and toys, is often a dog's possessiveness over his people. This can be triggered by another dog coming too close or receiving attention from another dog's people. Often, the aggressor's owner is oblivious as to what is causing the problem. This "overprotective" behavior is a clear indication of the dog's need for stronger leadership. If your dog "guards" you from people or other dogs I recommend following a leadership program such as the one I have designed.
Dogs at the dog park are often left on their own with little supervision while their owners socialize or talk on the phone. Please keep in mind that although the dog park is a great place to meet other dog owners and socialize, that is not the reason why you are there.
Many issues could be resolved if owners were more aware of the behavior of their dog. While supervising, dog owners should look out for and discourage rough play and dominant behavior such as mounting or ganging up on a more submissive dog.
This, of course, is all normal dog behavior that could lead to trouble at the dog park. Supervision is also key in ensuring that you clean up after your pet if he were to eliminate.
So please enjoy the dog park for what it is, a great place to go for socialization and fun for your dog after he has had his daily exercise. The dog park can be a peaceful place when all dog owners follow the unwritten rules of dog park etiquette.
Author: Megan Brooks
Megan is a professional dog trainer and member of several canine organizations. She has worked with dogs for over 15 years.