What to do about bad behaviour at the dog park

Whether it's your dog or someone else's, rowdy, aggressive or otherwise antisocial behaviour can ruin everyone's day at the dog park. Here's what to do about it.

By Valerie Howes

6 ways to ensure your pet knows its manners
It just takes one Rowdy Rover to spoil things for all the pups in the park. Make sure your pet knows its manners.

DO teach your dog its name and basic call-back.

“Recall is an important component of preventing problem behaviours,” says Julie Posluns, a certified dog trainer and co-owner of online training school Treatpouch.com. After calling your pooch you should reward it for coming back with affection, praise or treats. You can use this technique to diffuse any stressful dog park situations and reinforce your place as leader of the pack.

DO watch your dog.

Getting wrapped up in dog park gossip while your pet’s off pooping in the bushes is not OK. And leaving your pup while you take your kid to the swings is plain irresponsible. “A dog park is not a day care,” says Posluns, who has 40 dogs on her walking roster. “It’s unfair for your dog, who could get injured while you’re not around, and for the other dogs and owners who have to share the space with an unsupervised and unpredictable dog.”

DON’T picnic in the dog park.

“Recipe for disaster!” says Posluns. And on the topic of food, don’t offer treats to someone else’s dog without permission -- it could have allergies, be on a diet or have annoying begging tendencies.

DO let your dog run free.

By holding a tight leash, you give the message that a scenario is stressful. “Your dog is unable to greet other dogs normally so conflict may arise,” says Posluns. And if you carry your little dog around in your arms, bigger dogs are likely to jump up at it to investigate.

DON’T tell other owners what to do.
It’s a lot like with kids -- everyone has her own approach and the best bet is to avoid confrontation. “My job is to keep my dogs safe, so if a dog is dangerous or making one of my dogs uncomfortable than we avoid them or leave the park,” says Posluns. That said, if someone you know well is having problems with her dog, it would be appropriate to suggest she consult a certified dog trainer or behaviourist.

DO respect other dogs’ toys.

If your pup pilfers a playmate’s ball, that dog can’t get the same intensity of exercise it came out to enjoy. And watch carefully if your dog is chasing another dog carrying a ball to ensure both are having fun. “Some dogs love it, but some value their toys more than food, and they have a right to not share them,” explains Posluns.


Page 1 of 2 -- Is your dog ready for the dog park? Find 7 more tips for a fun dog park visit on page 2.



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