Dog parks are the perfect playground for doggy dates where your pet can socialise and exercise in a safe environment. As an owner, it’s your responsibility to make sure you follow the spoken and unspoken rules of dog parks. In this week’s blog, we’ve put together a handy guide so that your day at the park is a fun experience for you, your pet and other park users.
Thou shalt pay attention to thine pet
This is a big one- treat taking your dog to the park much the same way you would treat taking your child to the pool and keep an eye on them at all times. Monitoring your dog including keeping an eye on their behavior and being able to recognise when trouble is on the horizon. If your dog is playing and having a good time, their ears will be relaxed, their tail will be wagging, and they might even bow down at other dogs by putting their front end on the ground. By contrast, an distressed dog will have their ears pinned back and will often have shrunken pupils so you can see the whites of their eyes. A dog in aggressive mode is typically tense, with ears pointing up or forward with its head held high and body leaning forward. Sounds can also be a clue as to what is happening- barking, ‘talking’ and growls are all part of play with other dogs but snarling with lips curled back is a sign of aggression. If you think your dog might be in a sticky situation, you can call them back, distract them with a toy, or even just clap your hands to diffuse the situation.
Thou shalt not take puppies to the dog park
Puppies are such adorable creatures, it can be tempting to bring them to play with other dogs and (let’s be honest) to have the other humans gush over them. But these little guys can be harder to control than you think. There are other issues too- if your puppy hasn’t had their vaccines yet, they may be exposed to all kinds of nasty diseases at the dog park. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so only take your puppy to the dog park after they’ve passed the six month mark and received their full vaccination course. This ensures that your puppies will not only be safe, but they’ll also be well versed in dog etiquette themselves. Dog parks are great for dog socialisation, but for puppies, a more contained environment with dogs closer to their own age like puppy pre-school is a better place to learn this skill. This etiquette rule extends to adult dogs as well if they don’t have appropriate flea, tick or worm protection, aren’t properly vaccinated, or haven’t undergone proper obedience training.
Thou shalt establish control
If you’re letting your dog off the leash in a designated area, it’s crucial that your dog has basic obedience training and knows who is in charge (hint: it’s you, not them). When there’s so many other dogs around, your dog may get a little excited and distracted, so ensure that you’ve practiced key commands beforehand. It could be a good idea to use a different word to call them, or a particular sound to get them to listen to you. Whatever you choose, establish that you’re the one in control- this way, you, your dog and the others in the park are free to enjoy the fun. Finally, make sure you’ve read up on the dog park regulations in the Casey area. In the City of Casey, dogs need to be wearing a registration tag at all times, and dogs are not permitted within 10 meters of playgrounds.