By Kaitlyn Leach, CVT
Veterinary Information Specialist
Hi, my name is Drova and my humans tell me I am an extremely adorable dog. I’m not really sure what that means, but I can tell you it involves getting tons of treats, belly rubs, going for plenty of walks, and trips to the dog park. Dog parks can be an excellent place for socialization and exercise for both dogs and our humans. Not that I do much of either, as I usually just like to hang out with my humans and soak up the sun. However, one bad egg can ruin the experience for everyone. I personally love going to the dog park! Mostly because my hyper brother finally has other friends to play with and actually leaves me alone to sun bathe and ponder about my next meal. I spend a fair amount of time human watching at the dog park and I often notice that we dogs are doing a bad job making sure our humans know how to act at the dog park. As a frequent flier at the dog park, here is a public service announcement about how to train your humans to be good and play nice at the dog park!
- Do pay attention to us! Being at the dog park doesn’t give you a free pass to ignore our behavior. You know how annoying my brothers can be and you need to make sure they are playing nice with all of my friends. Plus, it would be a shame if you missed out on the entertainment we provide because you’re too busy staring at your phone.
- Do clean up after us! It’s true, everybody poops. Please be sure to bring plenty of bags and clean up after us. We don’t want to step in it! Seriously, that’s just gross.
- Do ensure that my vaccines are updated! There’s no way around it, we’re going to swap our cooties at the park. If we’re updated on vaccines, it lessens the chance of us transmitting diseases. As some parks don’t require proof of immunizations, making sure we’re protected is very important.
- Do correct us when we’re not playing nice! We may not realize we’re bullying other dogs, but you should! Please remind us to be on our best behavior so we don’t get in trouble or cause fights.
- Do recognize when we’re ready to leave! Although we can’t tell you when we’ve had enough, you should notice a change in our behavior. Please don’t make us stay if we’re feeling overwhelmed or tired, as we might start displaying bad behavior or cause a scuffle.
- Don’t bring unaltered pets! Boys will be boys and bringing intact dogs may cause unnecessary drama between our friends. Intact females may cause jealousy between the boys and who wants an unplanned pregnancy? Please leave intact pets at home, unless very well trained. The extra attention from the boys can be really embarrassing.
- Don’t bring food or treats inside the park! This is very hard for me to say, as food is so important to me. Bringing your own lunch or treats for us may bring unwanted attention from everyone in the park and you know we don’t like to share our food. If you bring treats, leave them in the car (preferably somewhere we can find them when you aren’t looking).
- Don’t pick us up! If we’re being bullied or you’re afraid a fight may start, please don’t pick us up! Although that is a natural reaction to shield us from danger, it’s practically an invitation for dogs to start jumping on you. Calmly redirecting our attention to another area of the park is a better way to remove us from a potentially dangerous interaction.
- Don’t bring us if we’re injured or not feeling well! I’ve seen the way you act when you’re sick, would you want to go to the gym? We need time to heal and bringing us to the dog park while we’re sick is a recipe for disaster. Please talk to our doctor before taking us back to the park after an illness.
- Don’t expect every human to follow the rules! You might be well trained but that may not be the case for all humans. Not everyone is a frequent flier at the dog park and they may not know the rules. If you see any humans breaking the rules, or allowing their dogs to break rules, please kindly inform them of the rules. If they continue to break the rules and it puts us in danger, we won’t mind going home early.
Please remember that not every dog enjoys the dog park and that’s OK! I used to hate the dog park so my humans had to stop taking me. Instead, we went for walks and they introduced me to new people, dogs and environments in a less stressful manner. After realizing that making new friends was fun, I learned to enjoy the dog park and now my brothers and I go all the time! If you train your humans to follow my lists of dos and don’ts, trips to the dog park will be more fun for your entire family!