Off-leash dog parks are a relatively new phenomenon in most communities, and behind each of them is a dedicated group of advocates who worked hard, often for years, to overcome political and financial roadblocks.
One headline-making dog fight can put the existence of all leash-free areas at risk, so it's important to appreciate the privilege these hard-won community resources represent and to adhere to appropriate petiquette when visiting them. Reading the posted rules and following these additional guidelines can help ensure a positive experience.
DOG PARK DO'S
– Expect "meet-and-greet" behavior; i.e. lots of sniffing, boxing and even mild humping as dogs introduce themselves to one another.
– Know your pet's play style and encourage her to engage with others of similar temperament. Some dogs are genetically wired to run, some to herd and some to guard, and not all predispositions are compatible.
– Expect any toy you bring to the park to become communal canine property (squeaky toys especially).
– Keep an eye on your dog at all times, and be ready to leash up and leave immediately in the event of objectionable behavior by your pet or others.
– Come prepared with pick-up bags to clean up after your dog, towels to get the mud off his feet when you return to the car, and copies of vaccination records (required for some parks).
DOG PARK DONT'S
-Turn an unsocialized canine loose in a dog park.
-Bring a dog into an off-leash park on a leash. (Doing so can trigger aggression toward the loose dogs that will immediately surround you.)
-Bring treats unless you like being jumped on.
-Expect other dogs to leave you and your four-legged friend alone while you play fetch.
-Leave your belongings on a bench or chair; they're liable to be snatched by a playful pup who mistakes coats or hats for toys.
-Bring young children into a dog park, as they can easily be bowled over by rambunctious canines.