Most dog owners are aware of dog ownership laws when out and about with a dog. There are the obvious rules such as picking up after your dog and walking off lead in off lead areas etc. What I want to discuss today are the more subtle rules, or dog park etiquette.
Perhaps one of the most important, but less obvious rules is that your dog should not ‘rush’ at other dogs or people, particularly if the other dog is on lead. Dogs that rush tend to approach people and dogs with as much speed as possible. It can scare owners and their dogs. If your dog has a tendency to rush, you will need to work on recall and be vigilant about your environment, you must see the distraction before your dog does so that they do not continue this behaviour. Your dog might be the most friendly dog but other people and dogs may not know this.
Dogs that rush at other dogs are usually deficient in their social skills. You can manage this by keeping on lead for greetings or by teaching your dog to heel. Usually, for dogs who rush, once they get close to another dog they are OK, provided the other dog is also calm.
Another dog park etiquette rule, that perhaps only the most dog savvy people know, is to not stand still for too long. I see this at dog parks all the time, what tends to happen is when people stand still for too long, their dog becomes bored and often will engage in unwanted behaviour. Such behaviour includes, rough play, bullying, barking, digging, humping, stealing toys and jumping. Dont get lazy with your walk, keep moving with your dog to keep them busy.
You should always take food to the park with you for your own dog. However, you will find that you may have other dogs coming up to you too. Never feed a strangers dog at the dog park.
Dogs playing at the park can also cause concern for some people. Play is constructive if the dogs’ behaviours are changing. If one dog is fixed in only one behaviour pattern such as pushing, body slamming or chasing, without any break or change of behaviour, the play can become antisocial. Always actively supervise your dogs’ play and watch for any anxiety or fixed behaviour pattern in either dog. The etiquette is that should your dog be the one creating discomfort for others they should be removed from the situation.
Be mindful of how your dogs’ behaviour is impacting on others and supervise your dog actively.