Safety tips and etiquette when walking your dog through the park.

The park is often a great place to go and walk your dog to enjoy the fresh air. Parks can offer many different opportunities for socialization and environmental exposure. It’s also a great place to offer exercise for your pup, both physical and mental. Most people will take their dog to the park to run off leash with other dogs, in hopes they tire out and be calm back home.

However, this isn’t always the case. You will often be dealing with untrained dogs who spread their poor habits and behaviors onto your own dog. It can be a wild free-for-all without and rules or boundaries. In order to enjoy your walk with your dog, make sure to practice proper etiquette and safety tips when out and about.

Walking in the park is not necessarily great for everyone.

Before allowing your dog to run free, it’s important to know how prepared your dog is for social interactions with other dogs. Typically when dogs are exposed to other dogs often at an early stage, they develop excellent social skills which can reduce the potential for issues when around other dogs later in life. They typically get along with other dogs and humans well, lowering the risk of an incident.

If you are adopting an adult dog who may have missed out on this exposure training, you can try seeking help from a professional dog trainer. Through training, you can teach your pup to be neutral and confident when around other dogs.

Aside from monitoring and gauging your dog’s ability to be safe and social, it’s also equally important to consider your dog’s health condition. Some puppies aren’t fully protected from the outside world until all of their immunizations are administered. Some dogs at the park may also be seniors and more delicate, so you must be aware of your surroundings.

Using the proper leash.

You’ll have to be aware of your local leash laws if planning to be off leash with your pup. Ensuring you have the proper leash is important when in an area that requires you to have one. Having the perfect leash can be extremely helpful, so here are some things to keep in mind when shopping around:

    • Washability – If you hate dealing with a stinky or dirty leash, make sure you choose one that is easily washable to maintain a clean look
    • Material – There are a plethora of leash materials that can be used. Some of the most popular leash material types include:
      • Nylon – Nylon leashes are one of the cheapest, most affordable options. They are rather easy to clean and generally comfortable to hold in your hand.
      • Rope – A rope leash will be the go-to leash if you’re looking for highest level of comfortability. They are rather durability and extremely comfortable to hold.
      • Hemp – If your dog has sensitive skin, hemp might be the best option. They are hypoallergenic and environmental-friendly. Hemp leashes are also odor resistant because of its anti-microbial property which can be beneficial if you have a pup that likes to play and get dirty.
  • Time of day when walking – If you love walking with your dog at night, you may need a reflective leash. There are also collars and leashes with LEDs to help light you up at night.
  • Leash size and thickness – This may be needless to say, but if you have a small dog, you can utilize a thin, light leash. If you have a larger dog like a Great Dane, you’ll need a larger, thicker leash to maintain control.
  • Adjustable vs. retractable – Retractable leashes can have some allure to them due to the ease of use. However, they provide little to no control and may encourage pulling. That’s why it’s better to choose an adjustable type, or a leash with multiple loop straps along the leash. With a fixed leash, you have the ability to tighten up and get closer on the leash to increase control.
  • Types of clips on the leash– You can choose from several types of dog leash clips. Each type offers different advantages.
    • Trigger snap clip – It is an ideal option if you have a large and physically active dog. These are big clips designed to withstand pressure.
    • Bolt snap clip – These are best suited for medium sized dogs. If used on a dog that is a serious puller, these might break.
    • Carabiner with locking clasp – Most dog leashes come with built-in carabiner to hook on to. They are extremely durable and you can have the biggest peace of mind knowing your dog will be safe with these.

Mind your manners!

Unfortunately some park-goers will forget their manners at home. For instance, a lot of people may forget that not everybody is a dog person and not everybody loves to be approached by dogs. Especially when walking a large or hyperactive dogs, some people may be scared. As a dog owner, you are responsible for being aware of your surroundings. 

Do your best to show restraint and avoid petting every dog you see. Ensure you always ask for permission before petting a dog, as you don’t know if it’s in training, a service dog that is working, or an unfriendly dog. Keep in mind the following tips as well: 

  • Redirect your dog when they feels anxious or shows signs of fear
  • If you continue to be frustrated when taking your dog out on walks, consider training
  • Discourage your dog from wildly chasing wildlife
  • Avoid feeding any treats or dog food to other dogs when out for a walk
  • Always clean up after your dog

Most important – watch your dog!

There are rare occasions when ignoring your dog is recommended, like when jumping or barking to demand attention. However, when out and about in public, you need to keep an eye on your dog to correct and redirect bad behaviors. These behaviors include running wild in the park or aggressively lunging and barking at other passing dogs. Figure out what’s causing these behaviors and address them as needed.

Don’t be discouraged if your dog acts up at the park. Be persistent and continue to make forward progress with training your dog. Enjoy your next trip!