Any day now, all the snow will be gone, and the dog parks will be flooded with seasonal pooches and their owners. With so much energy and excitement ahead, it’s great to let your dog go, run, and socialize with other pups – after all, they are social creatures.

As great as dog parks can be, we recommend following a few etiquette guidelines to make park time fun for both you and your dog, while respecting other owners and their fur family members.

Off-Leash Rule 1: Always keep an eye on your dog

We’ve all seen the owner who, upon entering the park, let’s their dog off leash, then glues their eyes to their phone…and forgets to watch their pup play.

Don’t be that owner! Why? You’ll miss any signals from your dog (or others) indicating either aggression, stress, fear, or something else. Know where your dog is at all times and watch their posturing to ensure they are comfortable in their environment.

Not only that, but if your dog tends to be a bit of a bully, you don’t want to be the owner who let’s their dog bully others, or worse, accidentally gets a bit too nippy! Simply put, supervise your dog.

Off-Leash Rule 2: Don’t bring your dog if…

Not all dogs should go to the dog park. It is a stimulating environment where you don’t know the personality and health of other dogs (or owners), which could compromise the health and safety of your own dog. Avoid unwanted attention and avoid taking your dog to the park if:

Off-Leash Rule 3: Pick up after your dog

Yes, even at the dog park, you must pick up after your dog. Dog feces may contain a plethora of diseases, such as parvovirus, campylobacteriosis, and a plethora of worms (whip, hook, round, and thread). All of these are not just spread between dogs, but humans can also contract these. So, picking up after your pooch isn’t just to keep the park clean. It’s to keep you, your dog, and all others at the park healthy.

While most dog parks do provide poop bags – often located at the entry gates – we recommend that you bring a few of your own (that’s right, a few!) just in case there aren’t bags readily available or your own pup has some extra BMs because of the exercise or excitement.

Off-Leash Rule 4: Remove harnesses and prong collars

Do not have anything on your dog that could either injure another critter or give something for other dogs to bite onto. Flat tags and collars are fine, but be aware of any collar with spikes (cute as they may be sometimes), or anything that could accidentally injure another dog.

Off-Leash Rule 5: Work on recall before the park

Before going to any dog park, work on your dog’s recall so they respond to your voice and their name when you call them. Do your best to work on recall without relying on treats, but know that you can try treats to begin with, particularly with pups who are motivated by food.

Off-Leash Rule 6: Be cautious when bringing treats or toys

This is one that people go back and forth on, especially if they’re training their dog or their dog is highly food motivated (and you’re still working on your recall techniques). Remember, dogs have a great sense of smell and will smell the treats on you. Not knowing the behaviours and reactions of other dogs, know that if you do have treats, or toys for that matter, you may inadvertently become a target for dogs to “attack,” even if just with friendly kisses. Also, be ready to not leave the dog park with the toys that you brought.

That said, we always recommend bringing water for your dog, no caution needed. All the running they’ll be doing, we promise you, they’ll be thirsty, and they’ll want to quench their thirst ASAP.

The dog park can be one of the best places for you and your dog to bond. Just make sure you do your due diligence so the day at the park doesn’t end at the Vet Emergency!

Want to get your dog park ready for the warm months ahead? Come on in and we’ll make sure all their shots are up to date and they have the proper parasite and tick protection! Call us at Happy Paws Veterinary Clinic today!