With so many dog parks popping up around Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia, my inbox is blowing up with questions about the rules. Here’s some points to remember as you romp around the local off-leash hangout:
Vaccinations? Who needs ’em?
YOU need ’em. Vaccinations are your best protection against contagious diseases and sickness. Dog parks are crawling with viruses and parasites, so before you set paw on the grass, make sure all your shots are up-to-date.
Can I drop by the dog park when I’m in heat?
Absolutely NOT! Dogs in heat are a disaster in groups. The mere presence of a hot-to-trot houndette can send a usually well-mannered male dog into a frenzy, which can lead to aggression, and if you don’t think a girl dog can get knocked up at a dog park, think again.
Can I bring treats?
Packing treats and playing with toys near other dogs can rile up the masses. If your human isn’t ready to referee a fight, leave the treats and toys at home.
The other dogs call me a Dog Dork. Am I OK to play?
It’s really this simple: Not all dogs are cut out for dog park play, and that’s OK. Some are socially clueless, incapable of playing nice. Others may play too aggressively, crashing into each other like canine bumper cars. If your playmates are avoiding play or ignoring your cues, you may want tweak your social skills before returning to the park.
Should my human be texting while I’m zooming around the park?
I see it all the time. Humans hunched over phones while their dogs run amok, stealing toys and breaking rules. People need to be alert — not distracted. Being a watchful pet parent means paying attention to your dog, not staring at your phone. Don’t leave your pet unsupervised, wanting to play. Put down the device and get in on the action.
I took a dump and my human looked the other way. Should I worry?
The dog park is NOT a public pet toilet — it’s a play place. Leaving a stinky mess isn’t just unsightly, it’s unsanitary. If you see a pile, pick it up — that’s common sense and common courtesy. Humans need to bring enough bags and be ready to scoop, bag and dispose. Keeping the park clean, safe and tidy is everyone’s responsibility.
Why can’t 50-pound Fideaux join me on the small side?
Take it from a small dog with a big bark — I’ve been trampled by my more sizable brethren. Big dogs don’t always watch where they’re stepping — nor do we lil ones, but larger dogs can injure or frighten us size-challenged pets. Plus, our squeaking barks and quick movements may switch on the prey drive in larger dogs — yikes! Small dogs may challenge a big dog, as if to say, “Hey, bro, I might be fun-size, but I’m not bite-size.”
Keep these facts in mind as you enjoy the great outdoors this fall!
Davi the dachshund may have been a hall monitor in a former life.