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Spring is upon us once again, so it’s time for you and your pet to enjoy the sun and fun, hopefully without the fleas and ticks. Taking your furry friend out for their first visit to the dog park can be fun for both of you, but of course there are some basic facts everyone needs to know before going and some rules to follow.

Although I’m sure I’m not talking about you, our responsible readers, but there are people out there, let’s just call them the non-Dishes, who may not always do what’s right or logical when it comes to dog park etiquette.

If you have a puppy less then 4 months old, of course, they shouldn’t be at the dog park at all! It’s too dangerous for them in many ways. If you want to take your dog that is less than a year old, remember that even if your dog has its shots, you cannot be sure that all the other dogs at the dog park have. Yes, some loving owners don’t make sure their pets are up to date on vaccines, but bring their dogs out to play anyway, thereby passing on possibly deadly infections and diseases to your best friend.

Getting your pet fixed is the responsible thing to do, and most dog parks won’t even let in males that are not fixed or females that are in heat. However, most parks are monitored only by the people that frequent them, and not everybody feels comfortable telling someone to stop their overly aggressive male from eagerly ‘socializing’ with their in heat female. The dog park is not a breeding ground or a fight club.

Kids love dogs, so inevitably people will bring their kids to the dog park. This is all fine and dandy, as long as your dog has been around kids and feels comfortable with them. For those of us that own pets but don’t have children, it’s easy to forget that your Rottweiler may be petrified by a tiny version of you, especially when the little being is running at him, screaming, reaching out, etc. This can frighten you dog, and although your dog has never bitten anybody before you certainly do not want to become the scourge of the dog park with the baby biting mongrel on your very first day

Understand that children are scary to a dog that has never been in contact with them. Let the children know that if they want to pet your dog, they must be slow and easy so they don’t get hurt. Have them stand still with their arm outstretched and their palm up, as you would when giving your dog food out of your hand, and let your dog go to them. Being preemptive with your dogs’ encounters will make these experiences much less stressful for your dog, and much less dangerous for the children.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Dog Parks

Okay, so now you know what to look out for, but you still feel like braving the storm like I do. Let’s get into some do’s and don’ts for dog parks. There are some rules that are universal at dog parks, even if they are not posted. And some may be common sense, but all must be followed.

1.  Always keep your dog on its leash until you are completely in the park. Always have the leash at
the ready, so you can take control if need be. I usually just hang it around my neck.

2.  Never have both entrance gates open at the same time. All parks should have two gates to enter the park and one should always be closed before the other is open.

3.  Make sure your pets are up to date on all shots, and your pet has been spayed or neutered. Listen to Bob Barker and help control the pet population.

4.  Bring your own water. Most parks have some sort of hose or spigot, but usually all the dogs are having a go at it. If you’ve ever seen your dog drink, you know it’s not exactly neat. Save yourself from muddy feet on your car’s interior and just bring a water bottle or a bowl to fill. You can find them at www.petsmart.com or at your favorite local pet store.

5.  If your dog is aggressive, leave him at home. If your dog doesn’t get along with dogs bigger than him or smaller than him, don’t go. Not all parks have separate areas for small and large dogs, so unless you know, don’t risk it.

6.  Children under 4 should not be at the park. Some parks have a stated rule that no children under 4 are allowed while some have age limits as high as 6.

7.  If you must bring a toy, only tennis balls or Frisbees will do. No stuffed animals, please.

8.  And the most important rule, PLEASE PICK UP AFTER YOUR DOG. A dog park is a messy place and cleaning up after your pet is vital to it staying as clean and disease free as possible. Though most parks have bags at sanitation stations, they sometimes run out. Bringing an extra bag just in case is always good idea.
 
www.Dishmag.com / Issue 121 - September 7841
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