By Kellie Tickner, Orchard Hills Veterinary Hospital Administrator
SURROUNDED by open spaces, friendly owners and lots of wagging tails, dog parks are growing in popularity in suburbs across Penrith. However, sharing a public space with unfamiliar dogs and owners comes with its risks. Dog owners are responsible for ensuring that dog parks remain a safe and welcoming environment for all.
Not every dog will be suited to a dog park. There is no screening process, therefore the onus is on dog owners make an accurate judgement as to whether their dog will be at ease in this environment.
The DOs of Dog Park Etiquette
DO be realistic about your dog. This may be difficult to hear but it’s important to be honest with yourself about your dog. Even the nicest pet can be a menace in the park. Dog owners need to be confident their dog can interact with other dogs without becoming fearful or aggressive. Dog parks are very stimulating environments, with lots of new sights, smells and friends to meet, so dogs need to be well-socialised and calm in the presence of other dogs.
DO make sure your dog is up to date with their vaccinations (including Kennel Cough) and parasite control. It’s essential that all dogs are vaccinated, have up to date preventative care (such as worming and flea control) and are in good health before visiting a dog park. This is especially important when dogs are interacting with each other, as there is an increased chance of transferring disease or infection via play, sharing toys or communal water bowls.
DO keep your dog on-leash until they’re in the designated off-leash area. It is good doggy-manners to keep your dog on a lead until you are within the fenced park. It allows you to control their initial introduction to the park and other dogs, and stops them bolting straight over to unfamiliar dogs and people.
DO choose the appropriately sized dog park area. If the park has sections for large and small dogs, respect them. Even the gentlest big dog can accidentally injure a smaller dog during play. Also, a smaller dog that feels threatened or overwhelmed can easily lash out.
DO pick up your dog’s poo. Say no more – it’s a must.
The DON’Ts of Dog Park Etiquette
DON’T get distracted. Your dog is your responsibility, so as the owner you need to remain focussed on your dog at all times.
Don’t take a puppy to the dog park. Until your dog is preferably 16 weeks old, and had all their vaccinations, they need to stay away from areas where they’ll come in contact with other dogs. Discuss alternate options with your vet.
Don’t use it as a chance to socialise a dog with behavioural issues. Dog parks are not a place for dogs to start socialising to help them work through behavioural issues. Dogs that struggle with other animals need focused, expert behavioural training. We cannot expect our dogs to instinctively know how to behave in these stressful situations. If pets are showing signs of stress, it is up to owners to step in and take their dogs home.
For more information on taking your friend on a dog’s day out, talk with the team a Orchard Hills Veterinary Hospital on 4736 2027.