WestPark_iStock_000071982185_LargeIn the Queen City, dogs are treated like royalty – and rightly so! Many shops, eateries, and other public spaces welcome the presence of well-behaved pooches. Of course, there’s a lot to be said for pet etiquette (or “petiquette”). Luckily, your pet’s social skills can be cultivated at one of Charlotte’s many fabulous dog parks. But beyond good manners, what else do you need to know before visiting a dog park? We’re glad you asked!

Before the Fun Begins

Some health and wellness measures should be taken prior to visiting any community dog park. Your pet must be fully vaccinated against:

  • Rabies (must have a collar tag)
  • Bordetella
  • DHLPP (distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus)

A puppy typically receives the full complement of these vaccinations by around 16 weeks of age. Once this is done, a visit to the dog park is definitely in order!

Puppy Rules

A puppy is very impressionable, making positive influences and experiences even more critical. When visiting a dog park, allow him or her to explore but remain close. You want to help your puppy navigate, understand, and adapt to the various stimuli in the park.  

Obedience of certain commands such as sit, stay, down, and come is essential. This can go a long way to creating a positive experience for you and your puppy – and dogs of all ages.

Timely Intervention

Mature dogs can truly enjoy a good romp in the park with other dogs, but visiting a dog park can just as easily inspire irritation, anxiety, exhaustion, or aggression. Understanding your dog’s body language is key, so before making a visit, check the following:

  • Your dog is ready to accept friendly canine attention, including rear-end sniffing. Help your dog with polite introductions, and do not allow him or her to crowd another dog.
  • If your dog has too much energy, try a walk or a vigorous game of fetch before entering the dog park.
  • If your female dog hasn’t been spayed, do not bring her to the dog park if she is in heat.
  • Help your dog treat dogs of all sizes with respect. If you have a small dog, make sure he or she is not being bullied, corralled, or attacked by a larger breed.
  • Train your dog to come when you call.
  • Dog play can quickly escalate. Do not allow your dog to nip at the neck of another dog, or repeatedly try to pounce, wrestle, or mount other dogs

Other Tips Before Visiting a Dog Park

While the dog park is a social place for canines, it can quickly become a gathering for owners as well. It’s nice to talk to other responsible pet parents, but don’t get too distracted! Remember, you want to do everything you can to provide your pet with a positive experience. Don’t let troubling behaviors go unnoticed. And don’t forget the following:

  • Bring your own poop bags and promptly clean up your dog’s mess
  • Do not bring treats or toys into the dog park enclosure
  • Always supply your dog with clean water
  • Have a towel ready to clean up dirty or muddy paws

Good Fun

Done the right way, visiting a dog park can be a really valuable activity for both you and your pet. If you have any questions, please contact your Long Animal Hospital team. We’re always here for you!