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Dog park etiquette

Finchley Dog Walker, Derek was inspired to give tips on 'dog park etiquette' having been out and about in the glorious weather and observing all the dogs, families and picnics!

Depending on who you talk to, park areas are either the perfect place for your dog to be socialised and exercised, or the worst environment you could ever take your dog to, where he may be traumatised or become dog-reactive, or worst case scenario, be involved in a dog fight and be seriously injured. These two situations could both be reality for you as a dog owner, but which is true?

In actual fact, they both are! Your local park can be an amazing location to walk your dog, providing it’s secure and well-maintained, yet on the other hand, it could well be your dog’s worst, terrifying and frightening experience. However, if you and other park users understand the park rules and etiquette, you can experience an enjoyable and pleasant walk with your dog.

Teach key skills

To make sure you feel more in control at the park, as a minimum make sure your dog will return to recall and remain under your charge. Relax and try to enjoy the experience; if you’re constantly feeling anxious, perhaps you shouldn’t be there until you’ve had some dog training classes and feel better in control of your dog.

Time scale – your dog needs to enjoy his visit to the park, but make your visit flexible. If he’s having a great time, stay a while longer, or on the other hand, if there are other disobedient dogs, perhaps it’s time for you to head home.

Allow him off the lead - if you have checked out the park safety and location, have done the necessary training and can check out any other dogs in the vicinity before you enter the park, it’s time to allow him some time off the lead, where he can run without pulling on the lead or getting tangled up.

Stay vigilant and connected with your dog – no matter how many people you bump into, don’t spend time chatting and take your focus away from your dog. Call him to you frequently and interact with him often.

Look out for picnics and BBQs – In the warm summer months, many families will pack up a picnic and head to the park, lay out their food and run around playing games, leaving their enticing, aromatic picnic food on the grass. Your dog will soon sniff out and hunt down these tasty morsels, which won’t go down too well with the other park users.

Always clean up after your dog – every time, and make sure other dog-walkers do too.

Be watchful of both large and small dogs and small children–larger dogs can sometimes be quite threatening to a small dog, when sometimes injuries to the smaller dog can occur. Likewise, if your dog is being aggressive or a bully, take him away from the situation either permanently or temporarily. Make the safety of other people and dogs of high importance, as well as your own safety.

We all know our own dogs, their breeds and personalities and know what to expect in certain situations. When you are at the park, it’s crucial to look out for your dog’s particular traits, and what may trigger a certain behaviour. Parks are amazing places for our doggy friends to run around and exercise, and for us to show off our much loved pets – let’s try and keep it that way.

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