are some of the best we've found on dog manners. Written by
and reprinted here with permission from Marty Guerra, Owner
of Good Dog Behavior and Training. Visit his website for more
excellent articles! www.dogmanners.com
posted park rules.
keep your eye on your dog - mischief can happen quickly.
bring more dogs than you can watch- 3 is about the limit.
bring food or snacks into the park.
leave your dog unattended.
clean up after your dog. Poop bags are supplied, so use them.
is the primary reason dog parks get complaints, so pay
pick up poop.
help us educate other park users.
any halters, metal choke chains or link collars. In the rough
and tumble play, a tooth or nail could get caught in this
type of collar, resulting
in a scared dog, lost tooth or
broken nail and possibly a panic fight.
sure that your dog is current on all shots, including
Bordetella for kennel cough.
bring dogs younger that 4 months to the park. They won't
have all of the necessary inoculations to allow them to play
safely with other animals
not bring a female dog in heat.
animals are recommended.
your dog becomes unruly or plays rough, leash him/her and
leave the park.
For Bringing Kids
We want a visit to the park to be an enjoyable experience for everyone. One
reason for development of this area was to provide a space away from park
playgrounds and playing fields where dogs could be free to run without disrupting
families with children. You may bring your kids to the park, but please be
aware that the very fact that there is a pack of dogs running around changes
the dynamics a bit. Not all dogs in the park have children in their homes.
Some of them have not been exposed to kids, or may even simply not like them.
In the interest of keeping the park a safe, fun place for everyone, please
watch your children closely and read the following recommendations.
are susceptible to contracting intestinal parasites in areas
where urine and feces are present. This is why dogs are often
prohibited from playgrounds and schoolyards. Be sure that
you and your child always wear shoes in the
park. Be aware that children can also pick up fleas.
This is not the place to bring a child to "get him/her over their
fear of dogs"
Not all dogs are friendly with children. While some dogs will avoid children,
others will harass them. (note to dog owners: whether you have children
in your house or not, it is a good idea to socialize your dogs with children
as much as possible- this will alleviate potential problems for everyone
NEVER allow your child to approach or pet a dog without the owner's permission
and presence. Children are easily run over and knocked down by running
dogs. Some herding breeds may nip at kids in an attempt to round them up.
A running, yelling child attracts attention and becomes a target for many
dogs because he resembles an injured animal or running prey. Do not allow
your child to wildly wave his arms around.
NEVER let a child bring food or toys to the park. Even a friendly dog may
go after a treat. One adult to supervise several children and the family
dog is not enough. Make sure that you can take care of everyone you bring
PARENTS: Teach your children how to behave around animals and what to do
in case of any emergency before bringing them to the park:
NEVER RUN: Hide face, fold arms and stand still. If necessary, lie down,
tuck arms and legs into the body and lie still. In both cases, wait for
help or until the dog leaves. Direct eye contact (staring) is confrontational
and a challenge. A child is at just the right height for this, and, therefore,
We strongly suggest that children under the age of 8 be closely supervised
by an adult; this means keeping them within your arm's reach. Note to parents
of infants: some dogs may jump to investigate babies in front or back packs.
While most are merely curious and friendly, some have strong prey instincts
and may mistake the baby for a small injured animal.
If you’ve ever been to the dog park, or anyplace where dogs are free
to run, play and interact with each other, you may see how happy and exuberant
many of the dogs appear to be. It is a wonderful thing to watch as the
dogs play "tag," "keep-away," chase, fetch, etc.
its role were thoroughly examine in R. Fagen’s work "Animal
Play Behavior" 1981:
Stimulates communal behavior.
adult behavior, particularly through the role of the learning
early, strong social relationships, although the role of
hierarchy and its development in play is less clear.
physical and mental dexterity.
a venue for safe experimentation and the first demonstration
of ritual and ritualized behaviors.
puppies with an outlet to learn about social rules and predictability
through sequences of events.
puppies with an outlet for exploration.
them with a safe outlet for increasingly complex problem
What’s even more fascinating to see is all the "talking" that
goes on between all the dogs. Dogs, being social, group animals have an
intricate way of communicating with one another. Through a series of facial
expressions, ear, tail, head positions, eye and mouth position, they are
able to communicate and read the intentions of one another.
is that not all dogs are good at speaking or reading their
own language. Many are socially inept and can be rude or
even down right mean. When dogs don’t speak "dog" and
don’t play well with others, it’s usually for
one or a combination of three reasons: genetics, learned
behavior, or poor socialization.
Over thousands of years dogs have gone through many different stages of
domestication. Unfortunately, humans have bred aggressive tendencies into
many breeds of dogs. Now, not all dogs within a breed group are aggressive
nor are all within another group easy going and pleasant. We are talking
propensities here. The more common of these include Pit Bulls, Rottweilers,
Chows and other guard types. On the other hand many dogs were developed
into breeds of a more cooperative nature (again, we are dealing with overall
propensities) these include, scent hounds such as Beagles, Bloodhounds
and Foxhound. These were bred to hunt in packs and are very amenable to
being and cooperating in groups. The sporting breeds (Labs, Goldens, etc.)
also tend to be easy going among others. The working breeds can run the
continuum from being relatively gregarious to aggressive. Again, it is
important to mention that not all dogs in any given group are going to
behave in one way or another; not all Rottweilers are aggressive just as
not all Labs are friendly.
The dog’s natural propensities can and will be modified by how you
raise the dog. Improper, harsh and abusive training methods, no training
at all, abuse, etc can turn any dog into an aggressive anti-social, danger
to society. It is critical that you raise your dog in an environment that
doesn’t allow him to be teased, threatened, tormented or attacked
by other dogs or people (kids included).
The most common reason for dogs not getting along with others is a lack
proper socialization. If you keep your dog isolated or only expose him
to limited environments, you run the risk of your dog developing anti-social,
aggressive or fearful behavior.
your dog says "hello":
When your dog is greeting another dog be aware of both of the dogs' demeanors.
Friendly postures generally involve the dog making him or herself "smaller" relative
to the other dog. This, along with other physical posturing, serves to
decrease their potential threat to others. Dogs exhibiting passive submission
tend to have an averted gaze, lower their neck and ears, lick, groom and
friendly greetings involve the dog making itself appear larger.
Erect stance, head up, ears forward, tail up (possibly flicking
tip), piloerection (hair up on neck/back, puffed tail hair),
direct stare (pupils may or may not be dilated), raised lips,
low tone growl, snapping, etc. There are some agnostic behaviors
that are considered normal but may not be well received by
some dogs, such as, mounting, chasing, pinning and the like.
your dog’s owner, shouldn’t forget common sense
or your responsibility for your dog’s behavior. You
cannot control other people’s dogs but you certainly
should be able to control your own. Don’t confuse control
with punishment. You don’t need to be a dictator with
your dog. You can give him as much slack as you want, but
when you say "enough" the dog needs to know that
you mean it. A well-mannered dog is one who does what you
want him to do when you want him to do it. Controlling through
intimidation doesn’t work any better with dogs than
with children. (Dr. Nicholas Dodman, 2000)
to understand the personality, characteristics of your dog
and mold your expectations around that understanding. If
your dog has exhibited aggressive, or any other inappropriate
behavior(s) while running in the dog park, it is incumbent
upon you to (1) not take your dog to the park or (2) take
the necessary steps to teach your dog how to behave appropriately
in a social setting. It is a task well worth the time needed
to change your dog’s attitude.