The Lower Mainland has a lot of great dog parks, off-leash areas, and nature trails. We all want our four-legged friends to have fun, but to ensure all dogs and humans enjoy these areas, certain rules should be considered. Here are a few things to remember when it comes to dog park etiquette!
Apart from the basics (like picking up after your dogs and following the posted rules) the key to making dog parks fun for everyone is to know and understand your dogs and how they tend to behave around other animals and humans.
Dog Park Etiquette
1. Every dog (like every person) can have bad days and upset or scare another dog with unexpected behaviour. Apologize to the dog owner, showing you are aware of the behaviour and make the effort to correct your dog.
2. If you have an aggressive dog, don’t bring them to an off-leash park. There is a difference between playing and aggression; as a dog owner it is very important to learn that difference. For dogs who are not well-socialized, a busy dog park is not the right place to work on that issue. You need a controlled environment as well as permission and awareness from other dog owners to teach your dog socialization skills.
3. For female dogs in heat, do not bring them to the park. Realistically speaking, unless you have a champion show dog, there is no reason for your dog to not be spayed or neutered. Spaying and neutering will greatly take care of any aggression issues.
4. Don’t bring food and treats for your dog unless you want the entire park jumping all over you. And don’t give another dog treats unless you have permission from the owner first.
5. Dog parks are not great places for small children, but sometimes it works best for a family to bring them along. In terms of dog park etiquette, know your kids and teach them that the dog park is for dogs to have fun (and for kids to stay out of the way). Keep your children close to you and supervised at all times for safety. On the flip side, remember that playground parks are for kids to have fun and for dogs to stay out of the way.
6. A designated dog park is a great place to let your dog socialize and expend some energy. Keep your leash handy and make sure your dog is in calling distance and is trained to come back to you when called. Also, be aware that not everyone wants a happy dog jumping at them when they are trying to power-walk or enjoying a nature stroll. Again, one of the keys to dog park etiquette is knowing your dog. Does your dog like to chase bikes or people running? If so, it would be wise to keep your dog leashed or avoid these types of areas altogether.
7. Make sure your dog does not stray from the off-leash designated areas. On leash signage is usually there for a reason. Being a good dog owner is all about respecting how other people feel about animals too.
8. Dog ownership is all about community and connecting with other dogs. Talk to the other dog owners at the parks. Compare notes and ask advice. Don’t be afraid to say hi. Dogs are great conversations starters and your openness about your dogs flaws will cause people to be more forgiving if there are any problems. Trips to the dog park need to be fun for all involved!