off-leash etiquette

Dog parks are becoming more common in large and small cities alike, and for good reason — they offer an excellent opportunity for dogs and their owners to socialize among their own. To make your trip to the dog park safe and successful for all, follow a few simple guidelines:

1. Follow all posted rules for the specific park you and your dog are visiting.

2. Visit a new park at offpeak hours to allow your dog to explore without distraction.

3. Bring only fully-vaccinated dogs. Failure to do so can expose your dog to potentially life-threatening diseases.

4. Bring only healthy dogs. If your dog is under the weather, stay home to rest and avoid exposing other dogs to illness.

5. Never leave your dog unattended at the dog park.

6. Clean up after your dog. Bringing extra bags is always helpful, in case another pet parent forgets or runs out!

7. Always keep an eye on your dog, and watch how he interacts with other dogs. Look for body language that could be signaling tense relations. If your dog is having a grumpy day, it’s best to head for home.

8. Try to let your dog off his leash as soon as you get to the park. Getting rushed by several dogs at once while on leash may make your dog feel threatened.

9. Bring only the dogs that you can attend to easily. If you have several “best friends,” you may want to make more than one trip.

10. If your best friend gets involved in a showdown with a canine compadre, avoid the park for a week and walk a different route. This detour in routine can help reduce any heightened sensitivity carried home from the dust-up, and a new routine can be a welcome distraction (reducing the chances of your best friend acting out).