Best Park Practice
May 30, 2018
Giving dogs a place to run and play not only keeps them healthy, social and stimulated, it’s a great excuse to get yourself moving too.
Not all of us have a backyard to play with our dog in, but many of us are lucky enough to have access to a number of parks and open spaces within our communities, where we’re able to take our four-legged friends.
Like any public space, there are some unwritten rules that are great to know so that everyone, including you and your dog, can continue to enjoy these pet-friendly spaces to the fullest.
Before taking your dog to the park for the first time, it’s important that they’ve had obedience training and can respond well to basic commands like “sit” and “stay”. They can easily get over-excited when meeting new friends at the park, so make sure you’re confident that they’ll respond to you, particularly when they’re off their leash. Knowing that your dog is trained will also put other park guests at ease.
Training also plays a big part in how your dog interacts with its peers. Like humans, all dogs have different personalities, which means that they’ll have different styles of play. Some love to chase, play tug-o-war and wrestle, whilst others might prefer to interact at a level that is less gregarious. Talking to the other pet parents at the park is really important – flagging up front if your dog does or doesn’t play well with others can help prevent some awkward interactions!
Ensure Your Dog is Healthy
With so many different dogs going to and from parks, it is crucial that your pet is up-to-date with their vaccinations. This not only prevents the spread of illness and disease, but ensures they live a long, healthy life. Puppies can be particularly susceptible to illness so you’ll want to make sure that they’re not only vaccinated, but old enough to be at the park (at least 12-16 weeks old). By keeping up with regular vet checks and vaccinations, you’re safeguarding your animal against any nasty bugs they may catch from some of their new found playmates.
Keep a Close Eye on Your Dog
We know that dogs can get up to all sorts of mischief when they are off their leash, so no matter how exciting that text message or other pet owner might be, make sure you have tabs on what your dog is doing, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those around you.
It’s a great strength as a pet-owner to recognise body language from your dog and acknowledge the differences between it being alert, happy and friendly, versus dominant, aggressive and fearful of other dogs. After a bit of play, your four-legged friend might even be telling you it’s time to go home. If they shows any of the following, it may be time to go:
- Tucked tail
- Panting / drooling
- Body freezing
Make sure you recognise the signs and act appropriately.
Respect Public Areas
Don’t forget that parks are there for everyone to enjoy, so play your part and keep them clean. In the interest of public health, clean up after your dog with tidy bags when nature calls. Don’t stress if you forget or run out, as most local councils will have them on-hand at dog-friendly parks and spaces.
Always look for signs! Some councils implement rules about where pets can play so it’s important that you’re aware of any restrictions that may be in place, particularly in areas where young children are present. If you’re not certain on the restrictions, it’s always best to get in touch with your local council to find out more.
Bring the Necessities
As well as tidy bags, bring along water, toys and treats for your dog. Some parks provide water buckets or bowls, but they are not always guaranteed, so it’s best to pack your own just in case. Most pet shops will stock compact water bowls and bottles that can easily be attached to leashes and make it easy to keep your dog properly hydrated at the park. It’s always a great idea to bring a ball or similar toy along so that you can play and bond with your pet while at the park. Particularly during the initial stages of introducing your dog to the park, don’t forget to bring along some treats as well to reward them for good behaviour.