Dog Park Etiquette: A Trainer’s Point of View
Over the years at Happy-Go-Lucky we’ve seen countless dogs at play in our daycare (1999-2007) and classes. Our Certified Pet Dog Trainers have spent years observing dog behavior and interactions. From this experience we have put together some tips on determining if an off-leash dog park is right for your dog – and what you may want to work on to help them be polite, safe and comfortable at the dog park.
What we like about dog parks
- give dogs a chance to socialize in safe environment
- provide dogs with needed exercise
- BUT…success of dog park depends on courteous and conscientious participants
What makes a good dog park dog?
- a dog that has history of appropriate play with other dogs
- a dog that is friendly toward all types of people
- over age 5 months and spayed/neutered
- strong bond with owner
- some basic obedience skills, including solid recall
- ability to share toys and food (no guarding)
- some impulse control (no Tarzan behavior)
- good physical health
- demonstrated bite inhibition (gentle with teeth)
What makes a good dog park person?
- strong bond with their dog
- uses positive reinforcement to give their dog information and feedback
- knowledge of appropriate play behavior
- willingness to interrupt and interact with their dog while at the dog park
- tolerance for different dogs’ play styles
- comes prepared with water and poop bags to share
- gives their dog other outlets for exercise and socialization besides the dog park
- understands that 10 minutes of fun and/or one positive experience is better than 30 minutes of rude behavior and bullying (or getting bullied)
Some words of caution:
- A dog park is not the place to see if your dog can “work out issues” (dog aggression, people aggression, etc).
- A dog park should be for the mental and physical health of the dog.
- A dog park should not be the dog’s sole opportunity to exercise and socialize.