8 Ways to Practice Proper Etiquette in Dog Parks

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Don't bring a favorite toy.

By all means bring a plaything, but leave your pet's absolute favorite toy at home because chances are good that it won't make it out of the park unscathed.

Pick up the doo-doo!

A dog park is not a public pet toilet. Always dispose of your "doggy bags" properly.

Don't bring a sick pet.

When pets are under the weather they can be really grumpy and overly aggressive, and can risk passing something on to other pets. Most importantly, make sure that your pet is completely vaccinated.

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Control your dog.

Your dog should know and respect the basic commands (come, sit and stay) before you take it to a dog park, so you can prevent it from harassing other dogs and their owners. "Your dog has to respect you as a strong pack leader," says Smith. Also avoid correcting the behaviors of other people's dogs without receiving permission from the owner first -- or the scrap might end up being between humans!

Don't bring small children.

A dog park is no place for small children. They run and yell, and dogs will instinctively chase them because that's what dogs do.

Repair any damage.

Besides stepping in doggy droppings, there's nothing worse than twisting your ankle in a hidden hole in the ground. If your dog is a chronic digger, take the time to refill the holes.

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Don't bring food and treats.

Unless you want a pack of scavenging mutts descending on you and your pet, leave the food at home.

Don't bring dogs in heat.

Aside from the potential for an unspayed dog to become pregnant, the mere presence of a hot-to-trot female can send normally well-behaved males into a frenzy, which can be traumatic for your pooch. In general, it's best to have your dog spayed or neutered.

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