Dog parks are one of the best places for your pup to run, play, and socialize. As a devoted dog parent, you know the sheer joy and excitement that fills the air when you unleash your furry friend in these open spaces. However, to ensure a truly “pawsitive” experience for all, it’s crucial to navigate the unspoken rules of dog park etiquette.
We covered the basics of dog park etiquette in part one of this series. Now, we’re going deeper into your dog park dilemmas and canine quandaries. By keeping manners in mind when you visit the dog park, you’ll ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for your best friend and all the other pups in your proximity.
Someone Lets Their Dog Run Off-Leash in an On-Leash Area
While we are advocates of always leashing your dog where legally required to do so, this isn’t junior high school and you’re not the hall monitor. If the dog isn’t antagonizing you or your pup, let it go. It’s your responsibility to follow the rules, not enforce them. If the dog is truly a menace, a friendly, “FYI, I’ve seen people get tickets for unleashed dogs here…” should do the trick.
There’s a Dog Running So Wild, They’ve Almost Knocked You Down
What should you do? Move out of the dog’s way! And if there’s not time for that, bend your knees and brace for impact. After all, this is what the dog park was meant to be: a place where dogs who’ve been cooped up in the house all day can run wild, wrestle, chase each other, and just generally get their ya-yas out. Unless the dog is dangerously out of control, let them have their day.
A Dog Tries Mount You or Your Dog
Ah, the dog who “loves” too much. Though the behavior is neither uncommon nor unnatural, humpers often become the pariahs of the park. If your dog’s a humper, get this under control (with a dog trainer or behaviorist, if necessary). Get help sooner rather than later — or you’ll find humans and canines alike heading for the hills at the first glimpse of either one of you. Catch Fido in the act? Call him to you as quickly as possible. If that fails, lead your pup by the collar away from whomever they’ve set their sights on.
If you are the humper’s victim, or the victim’s parent, do what it takes to extricate your dog from the humper. Running interference between the dogs or physically removing the dog from your leg is perfectly acceptable.
Little Dogs Charge or Bark at Big Dogs
Yep, we know the one: the Chihuahua who thinks she’s a mountain lion and inevitably stalks the Great Dane who thinks he’s a cat. Assuming it’s highly unlikely that anyone will be harmed during this display, let the dogs work it out (usually they do, quite gracefully). It might not be fair — little dogs always get away with more — but that’s life in the dog park. Most of the time, this is not worth getting other dog parents involved. Exception: if one dog is ganged up on, no matter the size, a human needs to intervene.
Your Dog Has an Embarrassing Potty Break in the Middle of Your Conversation
You finally mustered the courage to approach another dog parent. You’ve barely made it through introductions when your dog pops a squat. It might not seem like it, but you just hit the jackpot! Nothing bonds people together like embarrassment. “Excuse me, could I get your advice on this one? Bag it or bare hand?” is the perfect ice-breaker. If that’s not exactly your style, now worries. This is still your chance to show off what a responsible dog parent you are. Smile sweetly, grab your eco-friendly poop bag, and carry on as if nothing happened.
Looking for more guidance on canine (and human) manners? Check out dog park etiquette, part three!