Dog Park Etiquette & Tips for a Happy Dog Park Experience
PREPARE for your trip to the dog park, and both you and your dog will have a great time. It’s a good idea to have a backpack or tote bag set aside for the supplies you will need on every trip to the park.
WHAT TO BRING:
- Bring plastic bags to clean up after your dog. The park has bag dispensers for those who occasionally “forget” or need an extra bag, but those bags are not free. Hui 'Ilio Hawai'i, a non-profit organization, provides the dispenser bags, and we rely on your donations to pay for refills. So whenever possible, please carry your own bags. We happily accept donations of bags as well as cash.
- A towel may come in handy to wipe off your dog when she’s done playing, especially if it’s been raining recently.
- Your dog needs to wear her license while in the park. Attach the dog license to the ring of a regular buckle or snap collar. Any other type of collar you might use to walk your dog – choke collar, prong collar, head halter or body harness - should be removed before you enter the park. These collars are not safe to wear while dogs are at play and could cause injury to your dog or his playmates.
- Make sure your dog is up to date on his flea/tick treatments, or give him a flea bath before you come. Dogs must be parasite-free to enter the park.
- Your dog should know basic obedience so that you can keep him under voice control.
What NOT to bring:
- No dog treats, no human food. The park is specifically for dogs, who may beg, steal or fight for food. If you want to have a picnic, there are many other nice “human” parks.
- Do not bring your dog to the park if she is in heat. Male dogs may fight over a female in heat.
- If your dog shows any signs of illness, please see a vet and get his/her OK before taking your dog to any public area where other dogs may be present. And make sure your dog's vaccinations are current.
- Leave your dog's favorite toys at home. Some dogs will guard and steal toys - behaviors that can spark a fight. You are welcome to bring tennis balls for dogs who love to retrieve. There will be many tennis balls in the park and dogs don't generally fight over them. Avoid bringing special balls (such as a squeaky ball) which may be more "valuable" to your dog and therefore more worthy of protecting.
CHILDREN IN DOG PARKS:
- It’s not a good idea to bring small children to a dog park, but if you must bring your children, watch them carefully. Running/playing dogs can knock down small children as well as large adults. Children should not run, scream, chase, or tease the dogs because frightened dogs may become aggressive. Many dogs have never been socialized to children and may look upon a running child as prey!
- Teach your child to always ask the owner’s permission before touching someone else’s dog.
- Please don’t bring toys, skateboards, bikes or scooters into the dog park.
- If possible, bring an extra adult to watch your dog. It will be difficult to monitor children and dogs at the same time.
If your dog is new to dog parks, PLAN your first visit for a day and time when the park is not too busy. The park is busiest on weekdays after 4:00 p.m., and all day on weekends.
It's great to start socializing your pup as early as possible. Make sure your puppy has had his full set of puppy vaccinations (usually completed at 4 months) before bringing him to the dog park or any public place where other dogs may have visited. Puppies can pick up deadly diseases, such as parvovirus, that won't affect adult dogs who are fully vaccinated.
- There is a double-gated entrance so you can unleash your dog before entering the park. After entering the first gate, close it behind you and unleash your dog. Then open the inner gate to the small dog area (to the right) or large dog area (straight ahead). Close the second gate behind you. Reverse the process when leaving. Be sure your dog is leashed before opening the outer gate to the parking lot.
- It is not safe to carry your dog or leave him leashed after entering the park. Your dog will feel vulnerable, which will hamper normal doggie greetings.
- Always carry your leash with you. Be prepared to leash your dog at the first sign of trouble.
- Move away from the entrance so that newly-arriving dogs don’t feel overwhelmed by a large “greeting committee” waiting for them just inside the gate.
- Your dog should be responsive to basic commands – at least “come when called,” “sit,” and “leave it/off” - so you can get control of him if necessary, and prevent him from harassing others.
- Always WATCH your dog. While it's fun to visit with other humans in the park, you are responsible for picking up after your dog, and you are responsible for monitoring his behavior. Please, always keep an eye on your dog.
- Some dogs like to play rough, others don’t. If your dog likes to play rough, be aware that other dogs or their owners may not appreciate it. You may want to arrange “play dates” with dogs that have similar play styles.
- Some dogs will tolerate dominant behavior from other dogs, such as “standing over” or mounting. Other dogs won’t put up with it. If you see your dog “bullying” or trying to hump another dog, stop him at once, even though you beleive he will not hurt the other dog.
- If your dog exhibits any aggressive behavior toward other dogs or people, remove him from the park immediately. Consider seeking help from an animal behaviorist or experienced trainer before returning to the park. Do not risk possible injury to others.
- If your dog gets “hyper” or over-stimulated around other dogs or when he hasn’t had enough exercise, he may not be in the right frame of mind to join in doggie play. Although it might sound silly to say “exercise your dog before you come to the dog park,” this could be just the right solution for your dog. He’ll be a little calmer after a nice, long walk, and better able to socialize with other dogs.
- Don't pick up or grab somebody else's dog without permission. You might get bitten or you might inadvertently hurt a dog who's recovering from an injury, etc.
- Please help to keep our beautiful park clean and in good condition. It’s hard to watch your dog every second when she’s running around, but keep an eye out so you can pick up poop promptly! Ask your friends to share “poop patrol” duty with you. Take turns watching, and pick up after each other’s dogs.
- If you see a poop pile left behind, please don't ignore it - pick it up. Maybe next time, someone will do the same for you.
- Please don’t let your dog dig holes. If it happens, please repair the hole. If you see holes too big to repair yourself, please notify a park volunteer.
- Be aware that dog fights may occur. If your dog is not directly involved in the fight, leash your dog and remove her from the area. Sometimes the "pack mentality" will take over and other dogs will try to join in the fight, so it is best to get all other dogs out of the way quickly.
- If your dog is involved in the fight, do not try to grab either dog by the muzzle or collar, as you may get bit
- Do not yell or scream or hit the dogs, which may get them even more worked up. Often when dogs are "bickering," the situation can look very serious with lots of growling and teeth-gnashing, but the dogs are not actually injuring each other, and they may stop of their own accord.
- Throwing water on the dogs to surprise them will usually break up a minor scuffle. If all else fails, both owners should try to grab their own dogs by the hindquarters to pull them away from each other. There is no sure-fire way to stop a dog fight, but you may know what will work best for your own dog.
- Owners are responsible for injuries or damages caused by their dogs. If your dog is injured, or causes an injury, exchange contact information with the other dog's owner.
- After breaking up the fight, immediately leash and remove your dog from the park. It doesn't matter who "started it." Your dog is in a state of high arousal and will not be in the right frame of mind to continue socializing. He needs to have some quiet time to calm down.
- Avoid disciplining another park user’s dog. If you must use force to break up a fight, so be it, but do not attempt to “punish” someone else’s dog once the conflict is ended. If you find another dog’s behavior unacceptable, take your own dog out of the park rather than “correcting” someone else’s dog. If there is a volunteer park ranger on duty, please point out the dog that you feel is exhibiting aggressive or inappropriate behavior.
- It's a good idea to find out what days and hours your veterinarian's office is open, and whether he/she answers emergency calls. There are very few 24-hour emergency clinics on the island, and you may need a "backup plan" to visit one of those clinics if your own vet is not available.