Welcome to Poochie’s Proper Dog Park Etiquette, by David K.
Rule number one: Always be nice, no matter what. Dogs that are mean or humans that are mean are not tolerated at Poochie’s Park.
“3 Strikes and You’re Out” Policy: We expect all humans to be proactive about following the rules and respecting other park goers. Dogs will be dogs, they can’t read the rules, their actions come from their feelings and instincts, we can’t blame them for not following a rule. But if their human is not proactive about controlling their dog’s unwanted behavior on more than 3 occasions/incidents then unfortunately they won’t be allowed to come to the park anymore. *in some situations, 3 strikes will not apply.
LEASHES/COLLARS: Dogs should be leashed until you are inside the double gates, then they should be unleashed before opening the next gate and entering the park. It’s better that EVERY dog is off leash vs. on leash when in a safe environment. Some dogs can get tense and defensive or nervous when leashed to their master. All dogs must wear collars, no metal choke collars. Metal collars may be a good tool for leash training, but they can get tangled in another dog’s mouth during play resulting in the dog wearing it getting strangled. The best collars for the dog park are those that have an easy quick release snap on/off connector and fit with just enough room for two fingers to slide under easily.
ENTER WITH EASE: If your dog is acting like a maniac at the gate and has all the dogs on the other side of the gate upset, then do not open the gate. Walk away from the gate and go back into the parking lot. Wait for as long as it takes for everyone to relax before entering the next gate into the park. Or, even better, start off by going through the nature trail entrance and burn off some of that high energy with a long walk/run.
3 DOGS MAX: Only 3 dogs from the same household per adult may be brought at one time. If you have more than 3 then you’ll need to bring someone with you to keep up with all of them!
PICK UP AND CLEAN UP: Always have eyes on your dogs. If your dog digs a hole, fill it back in. If he poops, pick it up. It is your responsibility to pick up after your own dog and it is okay to nicely point out to someone else that missed theirs. We supply poo bags at many places around the park for your convenient and enjoyable poo patrol.
KIDS MUST BE CALM: Children under 4ft tall must either be carried or within arm’s reach always. ONLY DOGS may swim in the pond or play on the agility equipment. Please do not allow your children to do either. Children may not use park equipment improperly. No running, playing near the water’s edge, screaming, or chasing dogs.
Small dogs vs. Big dogs- Small dogs are welcome to ALL AREAS of the park but owners must realize the risk of allowing a smaller dog to play in the big dog area. Some dogs are attracted to small dogs and simply will not leave them alone. If your dog is one of those, move to a different area in the park. Big Dogs are NEVER allowed in the small dog side of the park! The only exception would be if the big dog is a sibling of a small dog and they are either so calm/timid/elderly that they do not play or they are on a leash the entire time they’re in that area.
PETTING: Only pet another dog if they approach you and always ask the owner first.
TOYS: It’s not recommended that you bring your own toy unless your dog is the sharing type and/or you don’t mind another dog running away with it. We have plenty of tennis balls and Frisbee’s here for you. Never bring a toy that is too small and could be choked on by a big dog!
FOOD/TREATS: No food or treats inside the park, not even in your pocket. Some dogs will act defensive if they smell treats in someone’s pocket.
BULLYING/UNWANTED ROUGH PLAY/HUMPING: Do not allow your dog to bully another. If a dog is reported to be a bully on different occasions, then that dog may no longer use the park (see 3 strikes rule at the top)…. To report a dog or human that’s not being nice: First, move away. Relocate to a different area or leave the park to dissolve the situation before contacting the office. Once you are away, report the situation to us by calling or texting the front office. They’ll tell the manager and we’ll be out there to observe and talk with the owner ASAP.
Territorial behavior- (for frequent dog park users) If your dog is used to you always sitting in the same spot in the park, then they might become territorial of that area. Move around or go for a walk if your dog starts to act aggressive around you.
Rough Play: Every dog has different play styles, keep an open mind. Never allow your dog to pick on or dominate another unless it is mutual. Some dogs actually ENJOY being dominated and they even “ask” for it. If you’re not sure, just come ask us to monitor the behavior and we will let you know what we think. Rough play is acceptable only if both dogs involved and their owners are consensual. If your dog is the one playing rough and the other dog does not like it, or the owner doesn’t then be respectful and move your dog to another area, take a walk or leash them for a time out. Do not just give up or assume that the other owner/dog is okay with it. Ask them! Say, “Is this kind of play too rough for your dog?”
Should any injury occur, be responsible not emotional, remain calm and follow these guidelines: Exchange phone numbers before leaving and agree to talk about it later after things have calmed down and the hurt dog has been taken care of. Let the office know about the incident so that a record can be made. Keep in mind that any incidents are to be handled between the parties involved only. The park is not responsible for an incident or injury involving another dog and yours. However, we can help by: 1) Giving you all the supplies from our First Aid Kit in the office. 2) Directing you to the nearest Vet if your dog needs further treatment. 3) Getting you, the phone numbers of the parties involved if you haven’t gotten them already. 4) Explaining to both parties involved, the details of the Liability Policy that we have everyone agree to and sign before entering the park.
YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE: You should know that whenever you go anywhere with your dog… YOU are always financially responsible for any damage or injury that your dog does to another dog, person or property–EVEN if “it was in self-defense” or if “it was an accident” or “he had it comin!” you must pay for the medical bills involved for the damage that your dog did during the incident. Its Florida law and it’s the same deal when you’re in the dog park off the leash.
Did I miss anything? Don’t let that last paragraph scare you. Incidents in the dog park are very rare. The park is for friendly dogs just like yours. You and your dog are going to have a great time!
If you’re not sure how your dog will behave in the dog park environment, please call ahead and ask the office to set up a behavior check before entering. We are here to help you and your buddy become a part of the Poochie’s Park family!