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Tips for dog park etiquette

Virginia Chavez is a Phoenix-based freelance writer covering pets and lifestyle in the Southwest. In addition to regular contributions both online and in-print, Virginia locally owns and operates two pet care and supply businesses. For t...

Minding manners of the four-legged kind

Nothing beats a day at the park with your favorite furry friend. Dog parks create a stress-free setting where your pup can run free in a safe environment. But before you unleash your pooch on a dog park adventure, make sure it’s an enjoyable experience for yourself and others. Mind your pet's Ps and Qs by following these dog park etiquette tips.

Dogs playing at dog park

Pick up after your dog

We love watching our pets happily run, romp and roll -- but the thought of what they might be rolling in is less appealing. Ignoring your pet's waste not only ruins the fun for others but can also spread disease. Although picking up after our pets is not the most enjoyable part of pet-parenting, picking up after other people's pets is even worse. Be prepared with plenty of doggy waste bags and always keep an eye on your pet to ensure potty breaks are properly taken care of. Most dog parks come fully equipped with doggy bags and waste dispensers to promote a healthy environment. Make it a priority to keep your dog park clean and safe for all pets.

Be aware and disconnect

Dog park does not equal day care. Taking your pup to the park is not an excuse to catch up on phone calls, emails, texts or personal errands. Talking on your cell phone diverts your attention from your pet and distracts other pet owners. Be courteous to those around you by paying close attention to your pet's behavior and interaction with others. Attentiveness is the best way to prevent a potential feud or other related mishaps. Think of this as an opportunity for quality time with your pet by devoting your undivided attention to your furry friend.

Know your pet's park style

Knowing your pet's likes and dislikes helps ensure a positive experience for all pets and pet owners. Does your pet love playing fetch? Make sure you pack plenty of toys to toss. Other pets may join in on the fun so don't bring any toys your pooch will mind parting with. Is your dog a social butterfly? The dog park is a great place for social pups to play with each other, but always remember to keep an eye out for foul play. Not all dogs enjoy being in the company of other dogs. If your pet is aggressive toward others, on-leash activities are more appropriate.

Dress down

Leave your Sunday best at home and throw on some jeans and sneakers. Be prepared to get jumped on, licked and possibly slobbered on by your dog and other canine counterparts. This is your pet's time to get messy and run around with new furry friends. Wearing appropriate clothing allows you to let loose and focus on what matters most -- having fun with your pet. Don't let your dog park day get ruined at the cost of your new designer couture. Play it safe and save your high heels for a fur-free evening.

More tips for dog owners

Kids and puppies: Rules, safety and responsibility
How to keep furniture in good condition with pets at home
How to travel out of the country with your pet

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