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Dog Park Etiquette

Dog parks have been gaining in popularity over the last several years. If your town does not already have one, you can be sure that there is a group trying to rectify that. Dog parks are the equivalent of a children’s playground; only these kids are of the furry four-legged variety. Like anything else in life, there are pros and cons.


The pros are easy. They are an excellent place to socialize and exercise your dog. 


The cons, however, can get a little long. The list includes the following:


The underlying health of another dog is unknown and can something spread to your dog. Like children who pass on colds, chicken pox, flu, etc at playgrounds, dogs could transmit giardia, kennel cough, canine influenza, rabies, and other nasties at the dog park.


Females in heat can most certainly rile up even the most well behaved males.


How old is the water in the community bowl. Standing water breeds bacteria. Then there are some dogs who guard and defend “their” water bowl. It is best to bring your own bowl and water.


Small, unattended children are always a problem. They can overexcite or annoy the dogs in the park. A small child is no match for a large dog.


Of course, there are owners who bring in treats and toys for their dogs. Nothing starts a fight faster than resource guarding. 


Then, there are those dogs that are unsuitable for dog parks because they do not like other dogs. 


Throw in possible injuries that could occur whenever dogs play, fight, or just stand around minding their own business. That list includes, but most certainly it not limited to:


Choking on provided treats or never knowing what your dog is going to find and then think is edible.


Bleeding injuries such as paw, ear, or limb.


Eye injuries.


Limb injuries from tripping in dug holes.


Sudden blunt force trauma when two dogs collide.


Insect or snake bites.


Bites from fights.

Poisoning from whatever old, moldy food may be around, but also plants and mushrooms.


The key to having a good time at the dog park is owner education. Owners need to recognize and put a stop to unwanted behavior on their pets’ part, and to realize when their pet might be in danger. Does the pet owner know what to do in the event of an injury? Which is why I teamed up with Donna Gleason, CPDT-KA, PTI, and owner of TLC Dog Trainer, LLC. She can be contacted at We designed a program that addresses dog park behavior and pet first aid issues. With the assistance of Kelli Peet; Regional Animal Control Officer in New Fairfield, CT, we presented at two local dog parks over this past summer.


Donna believes in being proactive rather than reactive when it comes to pet safety. “No one should be put in a position where they have to say, “ I wish I knew what to do or, I wish I could have saved my pet.” I am dedicated to helping others learn confidence and skills needed to keep their pets safe.” Her program centered around decoding dog behavior. Is there a problem or are they just playing? She discussed techniques and strategies to recognize potential problems before they become an issue.


I am a Certified Master Pet Tech Instructor and I teach a hands on, comprehensive pet first aid program across the country as well as offer webinars on various pet safety topics. I can be contacted through My goal was to identify and how to address potential injuries as might be common in dog parks. I was aided by Kurgo provided their treat bags to be used as a pet first aid kit. I was excited when Gordon Spater ( ) offered to send them to us as they are well made, sturdy, and just the right size for a portable pet first aid kit. Blue Buffalo ( ), and Candlewood Drugs ( ) provided some of the items in the kit. I discussed what should be in the kit and how to use it.


Our goal for this program is by raising awareness and educating more dog park attendees, we are making the dog parks the fun place they should be.


To learn more about this program, contact either Donna or myself.



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