Off-leash areas and dog parks are great places to let your pooch socialize and exercise, but there are certain rules and etiquette that should be adhered to in order to ensure that all dogs and dog parents enjoy the off-leash experience equally.
Just because off-leash areas exist doesn't mean they are right for all dogs. Your dog should be at least six months old, healthy, have had all their shots, and of course, play well with others. Your dog should be responsive to basic commands so they can be controlled if required. Spayed and neutered pets are the best bet for an off-leash area.
Entering and Exiting
Off-leash areas can be an exciting place. Some dogs can get over-stimulated. A responsible pet parent will make sure their dog is calm before entering the off-leash area. Be courteous and aware of others entering or exiting the area. Remove the leash as soon as you enter the off-leash area. A mixture of leashed and unleashed dogs can lead to aggression. Keep your leash handy in case you have to quickly remove your dog from the area.
Use the same caution and awareness when exiting the off-leash area. Leash your dog just before leaving, make sure no other dogs are trying to get out, and ensure that the gate is properly closed behind you.
Arrive with all you'll need for any situation that may arise. Bring bags for scooping. It may be a good idea to leave the toys at home as dogs may have guarding behaviour issues. Have water ready for your thirsty pooch, but save the food and treats for later to avoid aggressive behaviour. If your dog usually receives a treat for obeying a command or doing their business, reinforce their good behaviour with verbal praise and a good petting.
Playing with other pooches
For the most part, dogs are at the off-leash area to play with other dogs, but before they do, it's a good idea to ask the other dog parents if it's okay. Some dogs play too roughly and some parents aren't looking for a play date. Always respect the other parents and other dogs.
By following proper off-leash petiquette, the dog park and off-leash area will be a fun and stimulating place to spend some time with your furry best friend.