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Healthy Dogs

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Dog Park Etiquette: 7 Rules for a Well-Behaved Pet

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5. Know what to do if a fight breaks out. Despite your best efforts, fights sometimes happen. Make sure you're ready:

  • Give it a moment. Most dog fights end as quickly as they started.
  • If they go at it for more than a few seconds, try to separate the dogs with a hose, water pistol, or long stick. Don't step in with your hands or body. 
  • If they’re still engaged after about 3 seconds, you and the other dog's owner should approach the dogs from the rear. Grab their back legs at the top of the leg and lift them up like a wheelbarrow then start moving back. Don't reach for the collar. Your dog may reflexively bite you.

6. Don't take puppies to the park. Puppies can be hard to control. Humans find them cute, but older dogs often think they’re a pain. Plus, those who haven’t yet had all their shots can be exposed to a wealth of diseases. Wait until your dog is 6 months old before introducing him to a dog park. "[The dog park] is not a place to learn socialization, but it's a good place to be social once they've learned," Ruch-Gallie says.

7. Know when to go. Basic good manners should prevent most problems. A few extra precautions on your part will help. Avoid the dog park if your dog:

  • Isn’t vaccinated or doesn't have flea and tick protection
  • Isn't spayed or neutered
  • Is in heat
  • Is what the ASPCA calls a "dog dork." These are dogs that just don't know how to interact, no matter how hard they try. Other dogs may find them just as annoying as puppies.

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Reviewed on February 08, 2015

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