By Traci D. Howerton, Animal Rescue New Orleans

Now that the weather is turning cooler, many people are enjoying the outdoors with their pets. We have several great dog parks in the New Orleans area, and while the concept of bringing your dog to one of these parks is a good one, the outing can quickly go sour if you, the dog owner, do not follow some rules. Here are some guidelines to make a romp in the park a positive experience for all.

  1. Pay attention to your dog: In this day and age of smart phones, pet owners are often distracted and do not monitor the behavior of their dogs and of the other dogs. Just like with children on the playground, altercations can quickly arise if you are not paying attention.
  2. Pick up after your dog: Its just good manners to scoop your pup’s poop. It is also a health hazard since lots of diseases and parasites can be found in dog poop. Make sure you have plenty of bags on hand and clean up after your pet.
  3. Do not bring dogs with resource guarding issues: If your dog does not share well with others, the dog park may not be right for you. Your dog could become a potential danger to other dogs that want to play with toys and do not know that your dog has a problem with this. This goes for treats as well.
  4. Dogs that are not dog friendly do not belong at the dog park: If your dog likes to ride solo, bringing him to the dog park is not going to change his mind. Do not risk putting your dog or other dogs in danger if you know your dog is not sociable. A walk on the levee or around the neighborhood may be a better alternative.
  5. If you are in an off leash area, then your dog should be off leash: Owners new to the dog park world and off leash concept may attempt to keep their dog on a leash to feel more secure. Bad idea: This will actually make your dog feel insecure and can trigger fights. Dogs need to feel there are on equal footing with the other dogs around.
  6. Your dog needs to be spayed/neutered to enjoy the dog park: I believe this is a standard rule at dog parks but it is a no brainer. A female in heat and unneutered males should never be at a dog park…ever.

Puppies do not belong at the dog park: Puppies under 12 weeks of age and/or dogs that are not up-to-date on vaccinations should not visit a dog park. A dog park can be a breeding ground for disease and new puppies are highly susceptible. You’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the park together once your pup is fully vaccinated and old enough.