P-A-R-K. One simple word and ears perk up, tails go into overdrive. There are eager looks from you to the leash to the door and back to you. The dog park is a great place for both you and your furry friend to spend the day playing and socializing. There are, however, things you need to know to ensure that a visit to the park is fun and safe for everyone. Stacey Hawk, owner of Hawk City K9 and co-founder of the first dog park in Chicago (the aptly named Wiggly Field), has the inside scoop on what to do–and what not to do–at the dog park. Here’s what she told us:
Dog Park Rules:
Follow these simple guidelines to enjoy a day of fun and frolicking while avoiding possible mayhem, altercations, and even lawsuits:
1. Watch your dog at all times. In the dog park, your dogs social life takes precedence over yours.
2. Dont go to the dog park unless your dog is current on all vaccines.
3. Be prepared: Bring water and poop bags. Always clean up immediately after your dog.
4. Do not go to the park unless your dog is trained. At the very least, he must know and listen to “stay,” “come,” and “no.”
5. This may seem obvious, but unfortunately that’s not always the case: Don’t bring your dog to the dog park if he’s not good with other dogs.
6. Before going into the dog park, scope out the scene: Are the people there as attentive to their dogs as you are to yours? If not, take a rain check.
7. Do not let your dog off leash until you are safely within the confines of the park.
8. Always abide by any official rules of the park itself. Rules like “no eating in the park” or “all dogs must remain on a leash” are there for the safety of all the dogs and people there; it’s not worth it to rebel.
Next: Common scenarios to be wary of