We adopted a dog recently and would like to start taking him to the dog park in the evenings when it gets a little cooler. We’ve never been to a dog park and are unsure of the rules. Can you help?
Mindful of our manners in the Heights
Did you know there are more than 30 dog parks in the Greater Houston area? That means there’s plenty of space to get out and let your dog enjoy some leash-free scampering.
Before you head out, though, let’s talk a little about dog park etiquette.
Here’s a list of ground rules (some are written rules and some are merely implied) for visiting the dog park with your pet:
– No young puppies. Unless the dog park is empty, it might be too overwhelming for a small puppy. Experts advise that until your puppy is 4 months old or so, keep him at home.
– Make sure your dog is up-to-date on all shots. It’s terrible manners to spread disease to other dogs and you don’t want to bring home a nasty illness either.
– Clean up! This is the big Kahuna of bad manners at a dog park. It might seem like a no-brainer, but just because the park is “leash-free” doesn’t mean that it’s “scoop-free.” Bring your poop bags and pick it up, people.
– Know your dog. Not all dogs love dog parks. Many dogs experience stress in a dog-park environment. Be cautious and read your dog’s body language the whole time. If he’s not digging it, then leave.
– Don’t be distracted. Get off your phone and supervise your dog.
– Don’t bring intact dogs to the park. That’s just a recipe for disaster–and a recipe for dog park puppies.
– Burn off some steam before heading to the park. It seems counter intuitive, but many trainers suggest exercising your dog BEFORE heading to the dog park. Why, you ask? Because dogs with tons of pent-up energy to expend might wreak havoc at the dog park. Yes, dog parks are a great place to let a dog expend some energy, but it shouldn’t be his only place to stretch his legs. A good solution is to walk to and from the dog park from your home.
– Remove all harnesses and “choke” collar-type of collars from your dog at the dog park. These can become tangled up with other dogs and pose a serious health risk.
– Cautiously bring your kids. If you chose to bring your children along with you to the park, watch them closely and make sure that they know the rules about approaching strange dogs. Your children might be dog-friendly, but not all dogs are kid-friendly.
– Come! Make sure your dog knows the “come” command (or something similar) before taking him to the dog park. It’s important that your dog respond to this command so that you can take control if needed–especially in a leash-free dog park.
Now go forth and frolic! Dog parks are great places to make friends and enjoy our fair city.
Do you have a question for Tabby? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pet of the Week
Meet Sushi! This 2-year-old hound mix loves to be near her people and will do just about anything for a treat. Sushi can be a little shy at first (can’t we all though?), but warms up quickly. Her house manners are impeccable and she’s making great strides at walking on a leash. Sushi would prefer a home with no other dogs, but welcomes any and all humans who are willing to give lots of belly rubs…could that be you? To learn more, go to www.k-9angelsrescue.org.