Doha’s first free to use off-lead dog park has been open for 4 days at the time of writing and it’s been a roaring (or should that be barking?) success so far. We’ve had loads of fun and so have the dogs who’ve come down to visit us.
The park provides a great opportunity for you and your dog to come down, get some exercise and socialise with other pooches and their people. In the interests of making sure that the park stays as fun for everyone as it is now, we thought that we’d give you a quick rundown of dog park etiquette. This guide isn’t just for Barker’s and Mitten’s park, but can be applied anywhere you and your dog go.
Most of them are pretty common sense, but it’s always best to be clear, just in case.
- Pick up the poo
It’s a fact of nature- dogs out on a walk will poo and the park is no different. It goes without saying that bagging and binning is far better than leaving it there. Picking up after them will help keep the park clean, tidy and sanitary for everyone meaning that there’s even more fun for us all to have.
Our park provides free bags for your convenience, but you should always have some with you while out and about in the company of your dog. You can even get biodegradable ones which help to reduce you and your canine companion’s impact on the environment too.
- Don’t bring a dog in heat to the park
If your dog isn’t spayed, it’s not a good idea to let them off the lead while they’re in heat. All it takes is a few moments inattention and you could be bringing home more than you took with you. Not only is an unwanted pregnancy a risk, otherwise chilled out males might start to compete with each other and stir up trouble.
While this definitely applies to the park, where we want to avoid any drama, it’s also important if you’re out walking where there might be other dogs- accidents do happen. Puppies might be cute, but do you really want a surprise litter?
- Make sure they’ve had their jabs and don’t bring them if they’re ill
Vaccination has been a hot topic for the last couple of years for obvious reasons. They’re important for people, but they’re absolutely vital for our pets. There are a number of really unpleasant diseases that dogs can get from each other; Parvo Virus, Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza and many others can all be spread easily. Luckily, it’s standard to inoculate puppies against all of these which vastly reduces the risk.
Of course, sometimes our pets get sick even with their jabs up to date, just like we do. In this case, it’s best to stay home and rest up rather than risk spreading things. Coughs and sneezes spread diseases after all.
- Don’t bring a picnic.
It might seem like a nice idea to take a little something to eat, but food and strange dogs can cause problems. While your own dog might have impeccable manners, you can never be sure about strangers. Rather than risk another dog catching the scent and acting aggressively, it’s simpler to leave the sandwiches outside.
The same goes for treats for your dog. Remember, it’s not just tasty snacks that your dog wants when they do as you ask- they also love getting praised and a little scratch behind the ears. The last thing you want is for a treat to start a fight between your dog and another.
- Keep the kids close.
Dogs and kids are often great friends and it’s lovely when they all play nicely together. While your own pup might be a big softy who’s gotten used to being poked and pulled, you never know a strange dog has had those experiences. To avoid any unfortunate incidents, it’s always best to keep a close eye on your children when they’re around strange animals. This goes double for younger kids.
Our park has a rule that any children under 10 must be accompanied by an adult for the safety of everyone involved. A nasty experience with a strange dog can cause a lasting fear in both the dog and the child, so it’s always best to be safe. We don’t want anything to get in the way of their love of dogs!
- Keep the lead with you.
The park is a great place for some off-lead adventures, but it’s always a good idea to keep it close anyway. While the vast majority of dogs are happy to play together nicely, you never know when you might need to quickly get them out of a situation.
As well as letting you take control of a situation, a lead makes getting them to leave the park much simpler too. Ask anyone who’s ever tried to get their kids to leave a playground - it’s not always as easy as just saying “home time” when you’re all having so much fun.
- If it all goes wrong, take a break
Most of the time, our canine buddies are great with each other when they’re introduced. Dogs love to run and play and we love to run and play with them. That being said, sometimes a little trouble might break out. If your dog gets into a scrape with another, take them out of the park until they’ve calmed down a bit and are ready to play nicely again.
Dog parks are exciting places for your pooch. There are new smells, new people and of course, new dogs to play with. It can be a little overwhelming for them, which is why it’s a good idea to take a little breather from time to time before things get out of hand.
There we have it, 7 simple rules to ensure the park remains a place of fun for us and our furry friends.