Dog Park- Dos and Don’ts

Dog parks seem like such a good idea. The concept is wonderful! Take your dog out with you somewhere fun, enjoy some fresh air, and let your dog play to his heart’s content with other dogs! No worries, right? If only it were that simple!

Don’t get me wrong. I think it is imperative to socialize your dog with other dogs on a regular basis starting at an early age. But there are a lot of dogs that do not have the social skills necessary to interact with other dogs appropriately and there are a lot of fights that break out at dog parks for that reason. {Let me just tell you this, too. If you see a dog fight, please don’t try to break it up! At least not with your hands! You’ll probably walk away with a dog bite! A hose, a broom handle, or almost anything else you can find to use to distract, pull, or separate fighting dogs would be better than your hands!}

So what do you do? If you are going to take your dog to a dog park, I would recommend going at a time where there will not be many other dogs there. Plan ahead with some friends and meet them with their dogs. Watch your dog and his interactions with other dogs. Many times dog owners miss some obvious precursors and you miss the opportunity to redirect problem behaviors before they escalate. Please do not bring treats into a dog park with you. It can contribute to aggressiveness when dogs try to fight over food. Also, do not bring children into the park with you. Kids under 6 years old should never enter the gated part of a dog park. Some dogs are nervous around young, unpredictable kids and kids could inadvertently get in the middle of a dog fight.

The web site for Anne Arundel County has the rules for dog parks posted clearly. There are some volunteers who help to enforce these rules, but many of the rules are difficult to enforce. The rules are as follows:

Dog Park Rules

Persons who choose to use the Dog Park as a condition of use agree to the following rules:

  1. Anne Arundel County is not responsible for injuries to dogs, their owners/handlers, or others that use the Dog Park. This area is for dogs and their handlers/owners only.
  2. Aggressive dogs are strictly forbidden within the fenced dog park. Violators will face permanent suspension from all county dog parks.
  3. Dog owners/handlers must respect the rights of others to use this area by maintaining control of their pets at all times.
  4. Dogs must be on leash and under control by their owners/handlers at all times outside of the fenced Dog Park.
  5. Children under the age of 6 are prohibited from entering the fenced dog park area. An adult, who is accountable for their behavior and well-being, must accompany all children.
  6. Owners/handlers must immediately clean up after their dog(s) and properly dispose of waste.
  7. No smoking or food within fenced area (human or dog).
  8. All dogs must be healthy, vaccinated, and collared – with identification.
  9. Owners/handlers must remain inside, with leash, within view and voice control of their dog(s) at all times.
  10. Only small dogs and older dogs are permitted to use the small dog area.
  11. Limit of two dogs per adult.
  12. Dogs in heat and puppies under 4 months of age are prohibited.
  13. Dog park gates must be closed immediately after entering or exiting the facility.
  14. Excessive barking is prohibited. Dogs barking excessively must be removed.
  15. Owners/handlers must stop their dogs from digging and immediately fill any holes dug.
  16. Only flying disc and tennis ball type toys are permitted within fenced area.

Please use the dog parks responsibly. Do not bring a dog to the park that is not properly socialized. While you are there, please watch your dog! Enjoy the change of seasons, spend more time with your dog outside. Be safe and have fun!

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