Rules of Paw at the Dog Park – Basic Etiquette

Before you head off to your local play area with your dog, make sure you've got your dog park etiquette down pat. Consider these highlights.

Now that it's spring, you can bet that the dog park populations are going to soar. Who wouldn't want to enjoy the sunny outdoors with their favorite pet, after all? But before you head off to your local play area with your dog, make sure you've got your dog park etiquette down pat. Consider these highlights.

Make a trip to the veterinarian.Dogs at the park should be up to date on their inoculations, so be certain your pet is ready to tackle spring head-on with a clean bill of health. A springtime checkup is a great idea even if you're not headed to the dog park any time soon.

Clean up after yourself and your dog. This practically goes without saying, but don't litter at the dog park. Always use trash receptacles (which should have lids) and clean up after your dog whenever he or she takes care of business.

Have a dog park kit. Speaking of poop bags and other dog clean-up essentials, it might make sense to pack a dog park kit for yourself and keep it in the car at all times. Fill it with all the necessities, from biodegradable bags to spare tennis balls, dog toys, an extra leash and maybe a few discreet treats you can slip your pet as a reward without riling up the other animals.

Never take your eyes off of your dog. Just like you wouldn't ignore your kid at a public playground, you don't want to take your eyes off of your dog while at the park. It takes only half a second for some sort of struggle to begin between two animals, and fights can escalate fast. Stay in charge by always keeping tabs on your pet so you can intercede as fast as possible.

Spayed/neutered dogs are preferred. We don’t want to constantly worry about accidents happening while our dogs are off leash. It’s not only best practice to have your dog spayed or neutered, but it will also ease the minds of other dog owners joining you in the park. Have a female dog in heat? We strongly urge you to stay home. Even if your dog is fixed, we have been told by fans on twitter that any naughty behavior should be dealt with immediately. Don’t assume other dogs or dog owners are okay with these behaviors even if you see no harm in it.

Know how to avoid tough situations. While you can probably account for your own dog's good behavior, there's no guarantee that the other dog park canines are going to be as friendly or well-trained. Know how to avoid these situations, primarily by keeping your dog engaged and steering clear of overcrowded spots. The Huffington Post has even more advice on staying out of dog park trouble.

As always, follow the posted rules for each dog park you visit. When everyone follows the rules, dog parks are a great place for getting our pets the exercise they need. Make sure you and your dog are always on your best behavior and it will help keep dog parks open and available for everyone to enjoy. Disobeying rules can lead to local parks being shut down, or worse, cause serious accidents that could have easily been prevented.

This content post is provided by the pet experts at Hartz.