Dirty Pea-coat: Dog Park Etiquette
Dog parks are a great way to not only get your dog exercise, but also to allow your canine friend to socialize with other dogs and people. Like all public places, there are general rules of etiquette, both spoken and unspoken, which will make the experience better for everyone. What follows are MY general rules of dog park etiquette. They may look different than yours, but, these are the rules I like to observe and have observed.
I call them the Six Don'ts
Don’t Wear Nice Clothes
Seriously… the other day, I took my labradoodle to the park. This young woman, who’s there every morning, was wearing a tan pea coat and dress shoes. They were obviously work clothes and she wanted to keep them clean… yet she wore them to a dog park. Even if a dog doesn’t jump on you, you’re going to get dirty just being there. You're outdoors, you're standing in grass and mud. Dirt is inevitably going to be tracked onto your nice clothes.
When a dog (in this case, mine) inevitably does jump on you and gets a dirty paw print on your nice jacket, what right do you have to get mad? You’re the one wearing nice clothes to a dirty place surrounded by excited dogs who just want to lick your face and play with you.
To make matters worse, if said dog jumps on you and gets you dirty, don’t lean down and tell the dog you hate it. The dog is just being a dog… you’re the one not dressed properly for the occasion.
Don’t wear nice clothes, unless you want a dirty pea-coat.
Don’t Bring Children
The first type are the miscreants. These are the ones that climb on top of the dog jungle gyms; block the dogs from getting on them (and cry if they do), all the while yelling and screaming at the top of their lungs. There are places for children to play and yell… it’s called a human jungle gym.
The second type is the little ones, eye level with the dogs. Dogs generally love children and want to lick and play and wrestle with them. Often, in their attempts at loving and playing with them, they knock them over, resulting in crying children and angry parents. Again, this is a place where dogs play and run. They can’t be expected to avoid the children when they are in there.
I’m busy trying to make sure my dog doesn’t play to ruff with other dogs. I don’t have time to make sure it doesn’t eat your child, and I shouldn’t get cursed out if this happens. You brought a child to a place where a child doesn't belong.
Don’t Leave A Mess
When my dog poops, I pick up. I expect the same courtesy from other dog parents. I understand sometimes we lose sight of our dogs and don’t seem them, but I have often seen someone watch their dog squat and poo and then just leave it there. I don’t want to step in it, and I don’t want my dog—or any other dog—to eat it. Clean it up. It’s the right thing to do. Not only is it gross to step in, bacteria and virus can spread through fecal matter. I don't to step in poop, and i don't want my dog getting ill because it rolled around or ate your dogs poop. Parks are stocked with poops bags, and some even with pooper scoopers. There is no excuse.
Don’t Bring Aggressive Dogs.
I’m not talking about breeds… plenty of pit bulls are sweet and loving… I’m talking about individual dogs. I blame the parents. If your dog is nipping, growling, or biting other dogs, you leave. The dogs who play by the rules get to stay. Give your dog some training and then come back.
My dogs are generally well behaved, but, in the few instances where they have gotten too aggressive at the park, I give them time out. If this doesn’t solve the problem, I leave. Other dogs shouldn’t be forced to leave because I can’t control mine.
It seems often those with aggressive and ill-behaved dogs are the ones least likely to do the right thing and leave. If your dogs can’t play nice, they shouldn’t be there.
Furthermore, if your dog is prone to fornicating with other dogs, don’t bring it.
Dog ownership carries with it responsibilities, and this includes dog training. If you can't afford or don't have the knowledge to properly train your canine companion, then maybe you shouldn't have a dog. At the very least, don't bring it to the park.
Don’t Hoard Toys
Don’t bring a toy for your dog and not expect other dogs not to want to use it. If there is a special toy for your dog only, then leave it at home or for those times when the park is empty. Don’t yell at other dogs or their caretakers because their dog wants to play with that fun looking toy.
Don’t Bring Little Dogs
While I don’t have any problem with pit bulls and akitas, I get very annoyed by the yippy little dogs: the Chihuahuas, especially. If little dogs play with the big dogs, or, worse yet, pick fights with them. The little dog is likely to get hurt. Most parks have a separate section for little dogs. Keep your yippy little yapper there. I don’t want some little teeny tiny little dog nipping at my dog and/or humping my leg.
See you at the park!
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All rights Reserved. Copyright Justin W. Price, March 19, 2012.