Simple dog park etiquette

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Dog parks are a great place for your peppy puppy to exercise and socialize. It is also a great place for human socializing. If your pup is already a dog park diva then you know that not every pet parent seems to understand the "rules". This can turn a great experience for your dog into a canine catastrophe! Following some simple rules will keep you (and your furry friend) in good standing with the other patrons of the park and ensure fun future visits.

1. Only take a healthy dog. If Rover is not current on vaccinations or is still getting over a "cold" then it is not good manners to take him to the park. Not only will that put your dog at risk for illness but you run the chance of spreading those pesky germs to other pets. Wait until your dog is in good health and fully vaccinated before heading out to meet other canine friends.

2. Only take your dog if you are positive he is happy and feels confident in a large group of dogs. Attending a dog training class is a great first step. This will allow you to see your pet interact with a variety of different dogs. If your dog is more of a "loner" then it is not going to be fun for him to go to a crowded park. In fact, it could lead to negative feelings about future outings.

3. Got Poop? It is never appropriate to leave your dog's "mess" behind. Pet waste can spread disease and is just down right gross! Make sure to bring plenty of plastic bags to dispose of waste properly. Leave the bags you don't use for someone else. It is a great way to recycle those plastic grocery bags!

4. Kids and dog parks do not mix. Not every dog is comfortable around children. Better safe then sorry when it comes to mixing unknown dogs with your young child. Also, romping dogs often forget to look where they are going and could easily knock a child over.

5. Look for the signs! Many dog parks have other criteria you need to be aware of. For example, human food is rarely allowed, some only allow a certain number of dogs per handler, many have size appropriate areas and most have hours of operation.

The dog park can be a place to spend hours watching your dog do what he does best - be a dog! Be considerate by following a some simple guidelines. The last thing you want is to be asked to exit the dog park by other pet parents. That will certainly leave you, and Rover, leaving with your tail between your legs.