Doggie Park Etiquette – Follow It
By Phil Snyder, Executive Director Suncoast Humane Society
So this guy runs into Suncoast Humane Society, very upset, with the intent to lodge a complaint about uncontrollable dogs that are allowed to frequent the Doggie Park. The park is located directly adjacent to our facility on San Casa. “But wait,” I replied, “the Doggie Park is provided by Charlotte County and is not part of Suncoast Humane Society at all.” The gentleman settled down and decided to take his argument to the County.
A few days later, a woman came into my office raving about the Doggie Park stating just how much fun she and her dog had. “Thank You” I said, “I am so glad you enjoy it.” Praise is always welcome, so I just didn’t have the heart to tell her it wasn’t our park.
It does go to show, however, that depending on who you talk with, doggie parks are either the greatest thing since doggie treats, or the best way to traumatize you and your dog. So, which perception is correct? The fact is, they both are.
A doggie park can be a great place for you and your dog to enjoy companionship, as long as the park is well-maintained, well-monitored, and participants, both 2 and 4 legged, are well-mannered. If not, it can be your dog’s worst nightmare. What makes the difference? One word: etiquette. If you and other users of the park understand and follow doggie park etiquette it can make a world of difference for you and your pet.
We all know that it only takes one renegade to spoil the doggie park for others. It seems to work best when the users band together to create a sense of community, using education, peer pressure and, when necessary, a contact with appropriate authorities. Please remember that banding together does not mean for the doggie park to become cliquish. That can create an unwelcome environment for any newbies.
Not all dogs are good candidates for doggie park play. It is not the appropriate arena for dogs with serious behavior problems. Dogs with those issues should be carefully socialized in environments that are far more controlled. Here are a few points to consider before walking through the doggie park gates:
- Your dog should be friendly and outgoing, not a bully or obnoxious to others.
- Aggressive or extremely fearful dogs are not good candidates.
- Basic good manners are a must. No body slamming, mouthing, jumping or leg lifting on humans.
- Dogs should know some basic commands to be off leash.
- Constant barkers can be disturbing to others.
- Make sure your dog is microchipped and current on vaccinations and parasite prevention.
- Do not bring pronged or shock collars.
Human behavior is even more important. We are responsible for our dog’s behavior and play a critical role in making sure proper etiquette is adhered to. Here are some important practices:
- Obey all doggie park rules, even those you disagree with.
- Limit the use of treats and toys to avoid dog-to-dog conflict.
- Keep puppies and dogs not fully vaccinated at home.
- Choose appropriate play partners for your dog.
- Bring your own water bowl to avoid communicable diseases.
- Choose a designated area appropriate for your dog size.
- Scoop the poop.
- Keep both eyes on your dog.
- Immediately stop any rough playing.
- Bring a ball and be prepared to lose it.
- Please keep females in heat at home. Better yet, have her spayed.
More rules and etiquette practices of your local doggie park can be learned by visiting the park first, without your dog. Try visiting the doggie park at the peak times, like early morning or after the dinner hour. That way you will have a feel of the community and the expectations. Hopefully your visit will open up the gates to doggie park heaven for you and your loving companion.