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Minding Your P's and Q's At The Dog Park

dog_parkPlease pick up the poo. This should go without mentioning, but there are still some inexcusably ill-mannered folks who don’t feel the need to pick up after their dogs. It is the only responsible thing to do in order to keep the park clean and enjoyable for all. It’s important not only for the ambience, but also for the health and welfare of everyone and their dogs. Many diseases and parasites can be spread through feces.

PEOPLE belong in the dog park—it is an enjoyable social experience. But children should not be permitted to be in the dog park because there are so many ways they may be injured or cause injury. Children belong in children’s parks.

Quench thirst. Be sure your dog has access to plenty of fresh water during and after playing.

Many parks offer water fountains. Some don’t. Make sure you bring a bowl if you know there is water available, or a bowl and a container of fresh water if you are unsure. A dog canteen is a convenient way to bring water and a bowl all in one easy-to-carry unit.

Don’t let your dog drink directly from the fountain.

Don’t give your dog water (or treats) in the park among the other patrons. Always take him outside and away from other dogs. This will help prevent fights and the possible spread of disease.

Pay attention and keep your eye on your dog at all times! He may be the friendliest little fellow in the entire world, but not all the other dogs are.

Assess the other park users before letting your dog off leash to join in. If some dogs are too rambunctious or you notice that they are beginning to form loose packs, go elsewhere or your dog may be forced to defend himself. He may be bullied. He may suddenly find himself in a pack situation he has never encountered before. He may actually be so traumatized he will never enjoy the park again. That would kind of ruin the point of these outings, so . . .

Put down the phone. You can’t hope to keep tabs on all the goings on if your attention is elsewhere.

QUALIFY that your dog is under your control, and knows and obeys his come and sit commands. Make certain he is not a bully and is not aggressive. If he shows signs of bad behavior, leave the park and work on training. An aggressive or out-of-control dog can be dangerous as well as a legal liability.

Prohibit your dog from coming into contact with dogs that appear ill. Always look around and check the other dogs’ appearance and demeanor before entering the park. If there are dogs that may be ill, do not bring your dog into the park.

Never bring your dog to the park if he is not completely up to date on his vaccinations or is ill in any way.

Prevent flea infestations. Ensure your dog is up-to-date on flea preventative if fleas are a problem in your area.

Quickly remove your dog’s lead upon entering the park. It may be difficult for him to react properly to other dogs if he is attached to you. He needs to be free to interact on his own within the confines of the park and not have the added pressure of your presence, which may make him protective or aggressive towards strange dogs that approach.

PLAY is very nice, but if your dog is overly sensitive or does not appear to be enjoying himself, there is no point in forcing him to have fun.

If you have a small dog, seek out a small dog park, or an area within the park where there are dogs his own size he can make friends with. Don’t expect him to run with the big dogs.

PUPPIES do not belong at the dog park until they are at least 4 months old. There is simply too much going on and it can be intimidating or dangerous to a young pup. This also allows for proper time to ensure all vaccinations are up-to-date, including rabies. Consult with your veterinarian about the vaccination status of your pup. Most puppies receive an initial series of three vaccines at 8,12 and 16 weeks of age.

You may certainly use a dog park to help your young dog learn to socialize, but make sure he is old enough and completely under your control so you can help him through all the new situations he will be facing.

QUOTING the latest information you have learned about dog behavior and training to other park patrons is annoying and not often welcome.

Along the same lines, don’t heed all the dog training advice you might hear from others. Always consult your own trainer and veterinarian, and use your own good sense.

Parks for dogs are fun, healthy, and a great way to spend time with your dog. Keeping alert and using common sense will allow you to get the most out of the experience.

For more information on how to prepare before heading to the dog park, read this article.

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