Top 10: Dog Park Etiquette

As the internet is full of people having brief rants about their last experience at their local park or walk, we’ve put together our Top 10 rules for playing nicely with others in shared spaces.

This is very worthy information for any new dog owner, but is a helpful reminder to experienced owners alike – we are all guilty of forgetting a few of the rules from time-to-time.

1. Pick-up After Your Dog

We shouldn’t have to say this one, but it seems we still must. It doesn’t matter where it is, or what you’re doing – you shouldn’t have a dog if you aren’t prepared to clean-up after them.

2. Choose Off-lead Moments Wisely

Obviously, Siberian Huskies are not good off-lead – so here we are really talking to other breed owners. If it’s a glorious sunny day and the local park is packed to the rafters with people enjoying picnics, having family bike-rides and enjoying everything the park has to offer – it may not be a good time to let your dog off-lead. They might come to this park every day and have fantastic recall, but these additional distractions can be enough to unhinge even the expertly trained. It won’t take too many ice-cream thefts before you’ve earned yourselves the names Yogi and Boo-Boo respectively.

3. Not Every Dog Wants To Say Hello

This is easily the most common gripe we see – usually the fault of dog-less individuals, or those who are fortunate enough to posses fantastically well-mannered dogs. You must never forcefully instigate a meeting with a dog you do not know. Should you want either yourself or your pet to greet another dog, we would recommend keeping a sizeable distance and alert the owner know your presence, then proceed to politely ask if yourself or your pet may say hello. If an owner says no in any way, do not persist – this is for your own safety. The park is not a petting zoo.

4. Not Every Owner Wants To Say Hello

Just because you share a love of dogs, does not mean that you will share the same love of people. Many dog owners visit the park purely for the health and benefit of their dogs – not as a social opportunity for themselves. A friendly passing ‘hello’ is usually enough to gauge if a person may wish to chat, if they do nothing, or interact but carry on walking – it maybe best to leave them be. If you didn’t both poses dogs, your actions could easily be considered inappropriate should you persist.

5. Train Your Children

In most instances, we see better trained dogs than we do children. Dogs can find children very intimidating – as they have no knowledge of dog behaviour and are often overly-direct. If your child wishes to stroke or say hello to a particular dog, it would be best to ignore the animal completely whilst discussing if they are allowed to do so with the owner. Take any instructions from an owner very seriously – your child might be great with your sisters collie, but every dog has it’s very unique behaviours around children.

6. Don’t Give Dog Treats

Or at least, not without checking with the owner first. The older-generation are certainly the most guilty of this from our experience – but they are not alone either. Whilst you may think carrying around a pocket full of dog biscuits seems like a lovely gesture, many dogs are under strict diets to help manage an array of medical issues or simply as a preventative measure. There is also an influx of poisoned treats found in dog parks at the moment – so do not be offended if a dog owner simply says; NO! Do not be persistent, it is actually very rude – even if the thought is kind.

7. Dogs On Leads

In many parks, there seems to be a bit of common folklore that says; if a dog is on a lead, a dog is dangerous. Of course, being husky-owners, we know this is absolute rubbish. A dog may be on a lead because it is sick, it might be a flight-risk, it is nervous and easily scarpers, plus 101 other genuine reasons other than it being dangerous. If you come to pass a dog on a lead however, always keep your dog under control and do not allow it to approach unless the other owner initiates it. Whilst the dog may not have any social issues, the owner may not want it interacting with your dog either – so be polite, be in control.

8. Give Room & Communicate

If you come to pass another owner on a tight or narrow path, the individual with the ‘most to control’ should take precedence. If they have three jumpy Dalmatians, and you a single German Shepherd – allow the Dalmatian owner to dictate what happens next, if they continue to walk – find yourself a space to pull-over. If they pull-over, wait for them to gain control of their dogs, and then pass confidently and quickly keeping your dog in check at all times – ignore the other dogs, their owner should have them in control.

9. Help Your Fellow Dog-Lover

Lost a lead, or lost a dog? If you see someone in distress or generally looking a bit lost – they would probably appreciate a helping hand. They might not be regulars at your park, and could need a assistance luring their dog back to them. It doesn’t matter what the problem is, just help others now – and others shall be there when you are in need.

10. The Yellow Ribbon Project

The Yellow Dog Project is a UK initiative setup to help identify dogs that need a bit of extra space or caution in their day-to-day lives. Their website says:

The Yellow Dog Project was created to bring awareness to dogs who need space while training, recovering from surgery, or being rehabilitated.

If you see a dog with a YELLOW ribbon, bandanna or similar on the leash or on the dog, this is a dog which needs some space.

Please, do not approach this dog or its people with your dog. They are indicating that their dog cannot be close to other dogs. How close is too close? Only the dog or his people know, so maintain distance and give them time to move out of your way.
If you see a dog supporting a yellow garment, please do as they request and give them some space – they’ve already gone out of their way to inform you of their requirements, so please respect them.
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