Dog Park “Petiquette”

Posted on August 12, 2009. Filed under: 4. Guest Bloggers | Tags: , , , |

With our pleasant climate, many San Diego dog owners indulge in daily trips to the closest dog park or beach for some free play and socialization for their pups.

Most dog parks post signs clearly stating the park regulations (for a list of posted rules, visit The City of San Diego). There are also unwritten rules and widely held beliefs that, if followed, will help you and your dog be more neighborly and responsible park visitors.Dogs can become or seem aggressive for various reasons. By paying close attention to how your dog and others react to each other, and understanding a bit of general canine behavior, you can stop or curb “misunderstandings” between your canine and another dog (and possibly between you and another owner) before fun turns into snarls.

Some do play rough. When one pup is matched with another dog about the same size and enjoying the same game, an enjoyable time is had by all. When one dog is larger and rougher, it’s not fun for the little dog or its owner.

Vets and animal behaviorists tell us that intact male dogs are picked on by other dogs more often than neutered males. If your furry friend is intact, be aware that he is seen as a threat to any dominant neutered dog. While the other dog might normally be non-aggressive, he may well show signs of aggression around another male dog that is not neutered. If your pooch starts to play too rough or bark too much, or is just bothering another animal, please steer him to the other side of the park. I would also suggest you avoid standing around with larger groups of people. While this might be more sociable for you, dogs all cluster in this area too, creating a greater chance for a fight or disagreement among the dogs and people.

Although many rules seem obvious, I’m going to list a few I feel many people are unaware of:
•    Puppies under 4 months of age are not recommended.
•    Dogs in season are not allowed.
•    Parents must ask permission from the dog owner for children to play with the dog.
•    Pet treats or food are not allowed, except as part of a special event (which requires a park use permit).

The most ignored rule, polled from dog-park frequenters, is that people do not pick up after their pets. Most dog parks provide free bags and plenty of trashcans, but still, some owners ignore the messes they leave. Pick it up, people! And one of the rules I’d add to those posted? Don’t wear your best clothes to the park. Dogs will slobber, jump on you and brush up against your pants. And if you’re at one of our dog beaches, stand clear of any dogs after they take a dip in the ocean because they may well shake off a salty spray all over you. Dog beaches are great for pups, but not your Sunday Best.

Although we often think differently, it’s good to remind yourself that dogs are dogs; they aren’t people. This means it’s unreasonable to think they will act like people. When you go to the park, pay close attention to your dog and others, and be as diplomatic as possible to keep aggression low for everyone involved.
A dog park or beach isn’t for every dog or all people, but it’s a fun, exhilarating place for those who pay attention, understand dog behavior – and wear ratty jeans and an old sweatshirt.

Jennifer Wilbur visits Dog Beach in Ocean Beach almost daily with her two French Bulldogs – Tempest & Riptide – and her camera. She shares photos and stories of her visits on her blog, A Dog’s Beach. You can also follower her on Twitter: @rockstarjen


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3 Responses to “Dog Park “Petiquette””

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Thanks for the opportunity to share this! Your site is fantastic.

Great Blog! I will never understand why it’s so hard for some people to pick after their pet when bags and trash bags are provided. How many times have you seen poop, two feet away from a trash can?

I know what you mean, former Surfer Girl. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve actually picked up some other dog’s poop!

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