Taking a trip to your local dog park allows your canine to socialize with other animals and get exercise, stated Petco, an American pet retailer in the US. However, you need to know the basic tenets of dog park etiquette before taking rover to the park.
Victoria Schade, a Pennsylvania-based dog trainer and author of “Life on the Leash,” cautioned, “Pet parents should understand that dog parks are wonderful in theory but not always in execution.” Dog parks may not be suitable for all dogs, especially if they have poor socialization or considered inappropriate with other dogs. If you are eager to bring your dog to a dog park, be sure to follow the rules to let you and your pet have a safe and memorable experience.
Dog Park Community Interest (2015)
Canton Parks and Research, which creates a community through parks, programs, and people, surveyed 635 individuals on the town premier’s e-mail system, with only 263 people responding to the survey. 86.29% of respondents were in favor of supporting an off-leash fenced in dog park in town, with only 11.54% and 5.77% answering “no” and “maybe,” respectively. When asked how often would you use the dog park, the respondents answered “multiple times per week” (43.35%), “once a week” (42.06%), and “once a month” (14.59%).
93.17% were willing to show proof of proper vaccination and obtain a dog license to let their dog use the dog park for health and safety reasons, where was 6.83% were not keen with this idea. 96.77% said they would pick up after their pet if pet waste stations were provided while 3.23% said “no.”
The respondents ranked pet waste station (78.46%) as “very important” followed by drinking water (58.54%), shade (56.22%), double gated entry (52.61%), separate fenced in area for smaller dogs (25.51%), and benches and picnic tables (21.37%). For some respondents, staff/volunteer monitors (45.34%), restrooms (31.15%), separate fenced in area for smaller dogs (17.28%), benches and picnic tables (11.69%), and double gated entry (8.03%) as “not important.”
When asked how much would the respondents be willing to donate towards startup costs of building this park, a large proportion of respondents said they would donate $25 to $100 (64.98%) and $100 to $400 (11.67%). A smaller proportion of participants would donate $400 to $700 (1.17%) and $700 to $1,000 (0.39%). Only 21.79% were not willing to donate. Moreover, 58.59% said they would feel comfortable donating $25 to $50 annually to cover the park’s annual expenses. 12.50% were willing to donate $75 to $100 annually while 2.73% would like to donate $100 to $200 a year. Only 26.17% said they would not be willing to donate.
How to Find the Right Dog Park?
Dog parks vary. As an owner, you should understand what to expect at your local dog park before bringing your pet. Many dog parks allow dogs to run freely, but the way they are structured is different. For example, some parks have fencing while others separate dogs based on their sizes. There are parks that allow dogs of different sizes to play. As a substrate, some dogs have grass, dirt or gravel, or wood chips.
The dog park should be comfortable and safe for the both of you. Take a look at the park’s fencing— is it complete and well-maintained? How about the play areas for all sizes of dogs? Do they have a set of guidelines? Guidelines will help you and other attendees know which behaviors and rules are expected to be followed. Do an ocular of the park prior to the visit and ensure that the area is secure to prevent dogs from escaping. Are there any hazards such as debris in the park? Consider checking the reviews from other owners to help you determine if the park is the right one for your pet.
The Basic Tenets of Dog Park Etiquette
1. Know the “No Treats” Rule
Some parks prohibit treats as dogs will surround you and if your dog has guarding issues or loves your treats, it will likely display signs of aggression to another canine, explained Mary Simon of Outdoor Dog Adventures in Louisville of NBC Better, a website that transforms your life with tips for health, wellness, finance, and more. Such cases will make your dog park experience unpleasant.
What if you need to go? You have to be prepared to leash up your dog when it’s time to do so, Simon said. Work on your dog’s recall command like “come” before coming to the park. Don’t wait until it’s time to leave to call your pet. She said, “Recall once in a while and give lots of praise because you can't bring treats. That way they learn [being called] isn't always something bad.”
2. Learn Canine Body Language
Recognize when situations are about to go awry. Learn and understand canine body language prior to the visit to prevent tiffs or unwanted behaviors. Know your dog’s behavior, but don’t forget to learn other dogs’ behavior too. “Understanding body language will also help them know if their dog is enjoying the experience and when it's time to hit the road,” asserted Schade.
3. Have A Back-up Plan
Some dog parks have rules like keeping your dog leashed until you reach the gate, said Simon. But don’t let your dog run around the park just yet. Observe the park for a while once you arrive there, and try to discern the vibes of the dogs. She said, “Is it a good time? If you want to test the waters a bit, work the dog outside the park with a leash.” Keep observing the park when you decide to go to the park. Do you see dogs clustering close to the gates? Simon noted that those gates are “a hot spot for fights.” Keep your dog away and if possible, help your fellow dog owners.
4. Clean Up After Your Dog
Be considerate to other pet parents by cleaning up after your dog. Bring poop bags and observe your dog if you think they need to relieve themselves. Taking your dog on a trip to the park entails following the rules and regulations, including keeping the area clean, Schade added.
Make sure that your dog is well-socialized before visiting a dog park. A dog park is not a classroom for your dog to learn to socialize. Keep your pet’s vaccinations updated and follow the park’s rules. Don’t forget to bring food, water, and a first aid kit before taking your dog to the park.