or, How to Not be a Complete Jerk at the Dog Park
One of the highlights of my day is taking Henry (seen below at Capehart Dog Park in San Diego) to our local doggy park. The sun is setting, the breeze is blowing, and the air is fresh with the scent of… well, nevermind. But even though the dogs at our park are wonderfully sweet, silly and downright bizarre, some of their people can be a bit much at the end of a long day.
Of course, everyone knows the official rules: Be current on vaccinations, fill any holes your dog digs and pick up any “presents” he leaves behind. Great. But there’s also unwritten, and often violated, dog park etiquette that helps keep the park a fun, safe and reasonably sane place for everybody to unwind and get their wiggles out. So sit, stay and read on for Urbzen’s five things you should never bring to the dog park:
Food: This applies to both the human and canine variety. Whether it’s Fido’s favorite treat or a quick lunch for you, bringing food into the dog park is one of the best ways to go from zero to anarchy in seconds. And don’t think you can hide those morsels in your pocket; With a sense of smell that is 100,000 times greater than that of a human, they’ll find it every time. After all, they don’t have bomb-sniffing humans, do they?
Your own toys: Of course, bringing your dog’s personal toys to the dog park is fine–as long as neither of you wants to see them again. The beauty of the dog park is the communal atmosphere, so expect to see plenty of sharing, but don’t expect to see Rover politely return Fluffy’s ball when it’s time for her to go home.
Small kids: A dog park may seem like an ideal place to let your two-legged charges run loose as well, but even the friendliest medium- to large-sized dog can knock a toddler to the ground with so much as an enthusiastic greeting, causing inevitable conflict between parent and pet owner. Kid parks outnumber dog parks by at least 100 to 1, so for everyone’s safety and peace of mind, keep at least one hand (or better yet, a leash) on your tots when they’re in canine territory.
A leash: Though a must in most situations, a leash should never enter the dog park attached to a dog. Rather than keeping your pooch safe, being tethered to a leash can make your furry friend a sitting duck, unable to get away from dominant or aggressive dogs. Last year in San Diego, a Chihuahua/Yorkie mix was killed at Dusty Rhodes Dog Park when its leash kept it from evading an aggressive Husky. While the leash was obviously not to blame for the incident, it left the small dog open to attack.
An attitude: Your love for Lassie may be unconditional, but that doesn’t mean she can do no wrong. Always keep an eye on your pup and be ready to intervene if playtime gets out of hand.
By following the rules–both written and implied–the dog park can be a great place for everyone who is lucky enough to be owned by a dog. Let the butt-sniffing begin!