Unwritten Rules of the Dog Park

April 5th, 2014 | By Katie No Comments

It’s starting to warm up, and our dogs are just as happy as we are to get outside and have fun in the sun. If you don’t have a fenced yard or canine friends for your dogs to play with, fear not! Just head out to one of the many dog parks in the Athens area to give your dog some entertainment and exercise all in one.

As much fun as the dog park will be for your furry friend, there are a few things you should keep in mind to keep your dog and the other dogs safe and happy.

  1. Always keep a close eye on your dog. Just as you would watch a child at the playground, you should watch your dog to be sure he plays well and doesn’t get in any precarious situations.
  2. Pick up after potty breaks. You don’t want to step in someone else’s dog’s mess, so remember to pick up after your dog, too. (Most dog parks provide doggie bags in case you forget to bring your own.)
  3. Be sure your dog is up-to-date on vaccines. Although no one should bring an unvaccinated pet to the dog park, it probably does happen. So keep your pet up-to-date to prevent the spread of many diseases, and don’t let your dog play with others that appear to have a contagious illness.
  4. Be sure your dog is ‘fixed.’ Unaltered animals can cause behavioral problems among the dog pack in the park, and you certainly don’t want to end up with a dog fight or a litter of puppies if your dog makes friends with another unaltered dog! (There are enough homeless puppies in shelters already.)
  5. Leave food and treats outside the dog park area. It may seem like a good idea, in theory, to bring a treat to reward your dog for good behavior, but it can actually have an opposite effect and cause dogs to become aggressive or competitive to get to the treats. (The same goes for people food.)
  6. Stay home if you have an aggressive pet. The last thing you want to do is put other dogs or people in danger. If your dog gets along with some dogs but not all, try to find friends with compatible dogs so you can introduce your pet slowly into play in a controlled environment.
  7. Learn basic dog behavior signals. Dogs have their own way of communicating with each other. They typically establish a hierarchy, so understanding their body language can really help you to be tuned-in while monitoring your fuzzball at the park!
  8. Last, be aware of the weather. Dogs don’t sweat and can have heat strokes in our hot, humid summers, so pick a good time of day where your dog can run around and play safely without getting overheated. And, of course, make sure they have plenty of access to water to keep them cooled off.
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