Dog Park Etiquette
HELPFUL HINTS FOR PARK VISITORS
WHEN TO VISIT THE PARK: First time users should consider coming at off-peak times for their initial visit. Ask questions of those people inside the fence about how to ease your dog’s initial stress of entering for the first time. At times, the park can become quite crowded. If you are not sure how your dog will react to the current conditions, don’t put pressure on your dog by forcing it into what it thinks is a threatening situation. Instead, come back at another time when it is less crowded.
LEASHING YOUR DOG: Keep your dog leashed at all times while outside the fenced dog park area. Even if your pet is under perfect voice control, many non-dog people have fears and any dog off-leash outside the fenced area violates the Town’s Leash Law. Dogs must be kept on a leash until the owners/handlers and dog(s) are inside the double-gated transition area. Leashes should be removed while inside the double-gated transition area. Some dogs can feel threatened if they are leashed in the presence of unleashed dogs.
ENTERING THE PARK: Do not enter the double-gated transition area if there is already someone in there. Make sure that the gates are secured in front of and behind you when entering and leaving the park. Quickly move away from the entrance area as you enter. That will help disperse the group of dogs that will come over to welcome your dog to the park. Move away from the fence so that your dog will not feel cornered or threatened. This will lessen the problem caused when several off-leash dogs already in the park come running over to greet the new arrival, perhaps overwhelming the arriving dog. And of course, be sure to ask any owners/handlers at the park to secure their dogs so that you and your dog can come into the park without a struggle.
YOUR DOG’S EXPERIENCE: Many dogs will be experiencing the off-leash environment for the first time and may not be used to the excitement and level of energy. Please watch your dog closely. If your dog acts aggressively, please put the dog on a leash immediately and let it “cool down.” It takes time for a new dog to become comfortable with the idea that other dogs all share this neutral environment. Keep in mind that everyone at the park wants the same thing – socialized dogs that can have fun playing together. If you are not sure how your dog will react, try to come to the park when few other dogs are there to keep the intimidation level as low as possible. You may wish to keep your first visit to the dog park rather short to minimize the stress on your pup. Leaving early when your dog is having a good time will make it more likely that your dog will be anxious to return for another visit.
STAY ALERT! Keep your head on a swivel at all times as there will likely be groups of dogs running around the park and having fun. People standing around are obstructions – a dog being chased may try to run its pursuer into a person in order to gain an advantage. Stay alert!
INJURIES: If another dog injures your dog, get the name, address and phone number of the other dog’s owner/handler and the license and rabies tag number of the dog.
ABOUT CHOKE AND PRONG COLLARS: Remember that choke, prong, or spiked collars are not allowed inside the off-leash area. Each of these collar types can result in injury to its wearer, another dog, or a person depending on the situation. If a choke collar gets hung up on something while running, its wearer can become choked. Some dogs, while playing, like to softly bite the back of another dog’s neck. Dogs wearing prong collars receive a much stronger bite during this type of play, while dogs wearing spiked collars can inflict injury.
BE RESPONSIBLE! Be a responsible dog owner – if your pet has a contagious condition, STAY AWAY from the dog park until a Vet has said that there is no danger to other dogs. For your own dog’s and all other dogs’ protection, your dog needs to be current on all of their vaccinations.
DOG WASTE BAGS AND RECEPTACLES: Our dog park is equipped with waste receptacles and plenty of bags, so please use them! The complaint most heard from opponents of dog parks is the handling of waste matter and the upkeep of the park. Please clean up after your own pet and while visiting, help pick up any “orphan poop” that someone else might have missed. Continued use of this park will depend on our control of this issue and pitching in to help.
DIGGING: Owners must stop their dogs from digging and are responsible for quickly filling in any holes or repairing any damage their dog causes.
CLEAN UP: Please clean up YOUR park. Trash, cigarette butts (SMOKING IS NOT PERMITTED WITHIN THE PARK), and anything else on the ground may end up in a dog’s mouth. Before you drop something on the ground, ask yourself “Would I want my dog to eat this?” We must all work to keep our park clean.
CHILDREN: Children need to be closely supervised at all times. While they are welcome, child’s play is not. This is a playground for dogs, not children. Be sure to teach your children how to behave properly in a dog park environment. Playful, unsupervised children and playful, unleashed dogs mixed together could result in injury. Please understand that this area is provided for dogs to interact with other dogs and that your children could be considered an interruption in dog play. If you choose to bring your children within the park, you should SUPERVISE THEM VERY CLOSELY!! Teach your children proper dog park behavior – they should not be allowed to run around, pick up and wave sticks, or approach animals that they do not know. Teach them the suggested AKC “Stand Like A Tree” (Stand with arms crossed over chest.)
NO BARE FEET! There are rocks, wood chips, and perhaps other debris in the park. Avoid getting infections by keeping your shoes on!
FOOD ITEMS: Do not bring human or dog food / treats into the dog park. Many dogs are on diets to keep their weight under control. Some dogs have food allergies and that treat might make a dog ill. A normally well-behaved dog can jump at or lunge for food, especially tasty human food, when hungry.
Modified from the information posted © 2006 WethersfieldDogPark.org