Ah dog parks! The barks, the fetch, the cute, the Frisbees, the howls, the human letting their dog hump my leg….. er… no wait, that last one isn’t good. Nope. Not good at all.
We wish there were an Emily Pawst to write into when it comes to navigating the niceties of delicate dog park situations. Since there isn’t, we did the next best thing and compiled an (unofficial) guide for how to behave at the park – and how to handle those unexpected humping sessions.
1. Don’t Be A Hater.
It was once your first time at a dog park. Not everybody knows their way around the run. If you see someone looking a little bewildered, show ’em the ropes!
Likewise, if you see someone not following the individual rules of the run, assume maybe don’t know they’re doing wrong. All it takes is some ‘splaining and a smile.
2. It’s Ok To Be A Wallflower.
Not every dog is like Cher from the movie Clueless. Some are more like Angela Chase in My So-Called Life. Your dog might just take a while to warm up to a crowd, especially if it’s chaotic and they’re young. And if a pup just likes playing one on one, or even prefers camping out by their hooman, there’s nothing wrong with that. The dog park isn’t for everyone with four legs, and hey, that’s pawfectly fine.
3. The Only Humps Anyone Likes Are The Ones On A Camel.
Sometimes, hey, dogs will be dogs. But just like you don’t let your pooch hump a dinner guest’s leg, it’s not polite not let them get their groove on another dog’s behind. Or face. Or…side?
4. No, You Can’t Play With The Big Pups Yet.
If your pup is under 12 weeks, it’s probably a good idea to wait until they’ve had all their shots before you let them run circles around the grown up dogs, just for health reasons.
5. Everybody Poops.
We all know the world is one big doggy toilet and us hoomans are the flushers. So, flushers, do your job and make sure any messes they make get deposited properly 🙂
6. PUT. THE PHONE. DOWN.
Don’t be that person playing a round of Angry Birds while your pawtner-in-crime manages to steal someone’s wallet out of their bag and then does a triumphant circle around the park, keeping their prize out of reach. That’s an offense worthy of some major dog-house time for hoomans.
7. When You’re A Baller…
We’re not saying dogs who haven’t been neutered or spayed shouldn’t go to dog parks. BUT it can get the neutered and spayed dogs excited or aggressive, especially your dog is in heat. Why? Maybe they’re jealous. Maybe they’re curious. Maybe there’s some funky pheromone magic going on. Who knows? Just be forewarned that if your dog still has their manly (or womanly) parts, shenanigans might go down.
8. Sharing Is Caring.
Not everyone has a generous spirit, especially if their favorite squeaky ball has suddenly been co-opted by that terrier with the bedazzled cerulean collar. If only they had Sesame Street for dogs. Until they do, if your pup turns into Gollum and thinks all toys are “their preciooouuusss” might be best to leave toys safe at home.
Dogs. Will. Find. It. And then they’ll eat it. Best to leave any hooman or dog treats at home or at the very least safely secured unless you want fifteen new best friends who won’t leave you alone (and one sneaky thief who manages to gobble it up right under your nose).
10. No One Likes Being Picked Up At The Dog Park.
Small dogs and big dogs can either be like peanut butter and jelly or like oil and water. Disagreements happen, and it’s always up to the hoomans to be able to make sure things don’t get out of hand. And while it might seem instinctual to grab your tiny pooch and lift him out of harms way, that’s basically an invitation for a bigger dog to jump up on you. And sometimes, dogs can jump way higher than your arms can lift. So if your small dog is being bullied, a better solution might be to calmly lead them away to another area, or out of the park if necessary until things settle down. (Side note: humans don’t always like being “picked up” either. Would-be lovebirds, respect everyone’s pawsonal space. 😉 )
11. Stop Trippin’… Over That Leash.
If they’re not used to it, you dog might feel more secure on a leash. Leashes get tangled though, and tangles equal epic wipe outs. Plus, some dogs actually get MORE nervous when restrained. So let your pooch run free, free as the wind in the off-leash area! 🙂
For more tips on how to win it at dog parks, check with your local vet or dog trainer! And if you want to bring your tiny hooman into the puppy park, please research how to safely introduce children to dogs and always make sure they are supervised. In the end, every dog is as different, so definitely learn your pooch’s cues and use your best judgement so everyone can have off-leash fun.