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Dog park etiquette: The dos and don'ts of using off-leash areas – ABC News

Dog park etiquette: The dos and don'ts of using off-leash areas
Charlie Brown the chocolate Labrador enjoys meeting other pooches and running around Canberra dog parks.
His owner, Stephanie Tamm, has been taking him to dog parks at least once a week for more than two years.
"Primarily it's for his socialisation," Ms Tamm said.
"It's lovely being able to play freely and run around with the other dogs and he's a very sociable dog, so having that interaction is great.
"He's much more settled dealing with dogs of different types and different personalities when he encounters them on his walks and other activities."
Dog parks are a place for humans to socialise too.
"It's a great way of meeting other doggy parents and talking about your dogs and finding things in common," Ms Tamm said.
Brea Richardson and Brian Kay also take their dogs Mattie and Indie to dog parks a few times a week so they can socialise with other canines.
"It's really so good for them to meet and play with other dogs, I think it makes them happier dogs," Ms Richardson said.
"The socialisation between dogs isn't as good when they're on the leash."
Ms Richardson encouraged everyone to take their dog to a dog park.
"Their world is fairly limited when it's only your house," she said.
"But when you bring them somewhere like this, they can literally run around and sniff everything they want to sniff and they have such a good time."
With all these dogs off the leash, what should owners consider to ensure their visit to a dog park is a positive experience?
Firstly, dogs should be fully vaccinated, desexed and registered before going to a dog park.
Jane Gregor from RSPCA ACT said dogs should also have had previous interaction with other canines.
"A dog park should not be used to teach your dog how to behave with other dogs," she said.
"You should already have a dog that is good with other dogs before you go into an off-lead area."
Park dos:
Park don'ts:
(Source: ACT Government)
Owners needed to have full control of their dog in the enclosure.
"An owner should be able to call their dog and their dog should be able to come when called," Ms Gregor said.
"If it's not that reliable, they should still have a dog that they can just go over and get straight away."
Before entering an off-leash area, watch how the other dogs are interacting and make sure they are all having a good time.
Do not go into the enclosure if it is already crowded.
Once inside, pay attention to your dog's cues and respond to their posture and body language accordingly.
"If they're hanging around your legs, they're obviously not enjoying being in that park area so take them out," Ms Gregor said.
"Don't try and push them into having these interactions. If a dog's not enjoying it, take them out and take them for a walk instead.
"You don't want to make it a bad experience for them because if they learn from a bad experience it can then actually make them become dog aggressive."
Keep an eye on your dog at all times and don't get too caught up in socialising yourself.
"If owners are not watching what the animals are doing, the dogs can get into a fight and then it's too late — it's a bad experience for the dogs," Ms Gregor said.
Finally it is important to note that dog parks are not suitable for all dogs, and those that are aggressive or overly shy should not be taken into an off-leash enclosure.
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