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kima

Dog Parks

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kima   

So I am very new to the dog park scene, my previous dog (mini schnauzer) was a bit of a loner and was not at all interested in playing fetch, chasing balls or water so we tended to just go for walks on leash in our local reserve. Now i have an extremely energetic, boisterous stafford who loves to run and chase the soccer ball so we are venturing into the world of dog parks. Having no idea of the etiquette at dog parks I decided to have a read on here first to make sure we knew what was what. And i am thankful i did! Whilst i knew it was imperative to have good recall, i always assumed dog parks were a place where dogs could meet and play with other dogs, it didnt occur to me that people may go with the purpose of training their dog or tha some dogs in an off leash area may not respond well to other dogs approaching them.

Happily i can say that our first trip to the dog park was a success! Little Marlo came instantly every time we called despite the excitement of seeing about 5-6 other dogs playing not far away. We were careful not to let him approach other dogs and tried to be aware of people who were trying to do some training with their dogs and gave them a wide berth.

So half of the point of this post is to say thankyou for helping me and Marlo be respectful park users and helping us avoid upsetting any other dogs and owners.

The other half of the post is to ask, what are the "unspoken rules" at dog parks? I found that most do not have any guidelines on signs or websites so for people like me who are new to the scene it would be great to get an idea of what to do and what not to do.

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The guidelines are your state dog laws .

And common sense which is sadly lacking .

I concur..

Sadly though, one persons common sense is not the same as another's.

I have a boisterous staffy cross, who is very friendly and can be quite in your face with other dogs. But he is also quite submissive and rolls over at the first sign of a more dominant dog..

My old boy didnt likemother dogs, so we never went to dog parks..

The environment can differ from park to park, depending on the dogs and people there.. The same park can also be different depending on what time you go.

Ziggy has a ball when we go but we don't go as often as we used to when i first got him, as he tends to forget his recall when he spends to much time at the park. He is much better if we only go about once a month and only for about half an hour at a time..

I tend to call Ziggy away from people and dogs who have moved to the far end of the park or if I see a dog that doesn't seem comfortable running with him (he takes a ball but is happy for other dogs to have the ball as all he wants to do is run with any dog that is running).

I am pretty lucky as he seems to know he has to be more gentle with smaller dogs and pups and he can be more boisterous with bigger dogs.

But like all dogs, he can get caught up in the moment and run to close to smaller dogs.. So we try to keep them away from the smaller dogs when the bigger dogs are having a rougher play or run..

It's really not that hard if you meet up with the same group.

Ziggy plays with the same group most of the time... There are about 8 dogs and they range from a really big lab to a pom that is so tiny..

He plays with a huge boxer and another staffy most of the time.. He loves the working dogs but they tend to snob him a bit.. We also have a very bossy Lab x poodle that thinks all the toys are his but it doesn't bother the rest of the group..

It is common sense in the end... If you or your dog feel uncomfortable at one park, try a different one or go at a different time.

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kima   

I don't believe the 1994 Domestic Animals Act (Victoria) says anything about dog parks from what i could see.

I was more curious as to the etiquette rather than specific legislation (as i imagine legislation would be more around dangerous dogs, where dogs need to be restrained etc.). I was hoping to hear from people who regularly use these parks as to what is acceptable or not acceptable as I acknowledge that dog parks are a public space with a potential for danger and would like to educate myself as much as possible so as to be respectful of others who use these parks.

Edit: Thanks Staffyluv :) that sort of stuff is helpful to know.

Edited by kima

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Dogsfevr   

The dog act & local council acts cover what is offleash ,sone local councils have more detail

Here's an example on one

Order of the Moreland City Council Section 26(2) Domestic Animals Act 1994 Dogs must be under effective control

The owner of any dog must keep their dog in effective control by means of a chain, cord or leash held by the owner and attached to the dog while the dog is in any public place, other than designated off-leash areas.

Designated off-leash areas

A dog may be exercised off a chain, cord or leash in designated off-leash areas, subject to the following conditions:

the owner must carry a chain, cord or leash sufficient to bring the dog under effective control if the dog behaves in a manner which threatens any person or animal

the owner must remain in effective voice or hand control of the dog so as to be able to promptly bring the dog under effective control by placing the dog on a chain, cord or leash if that becomes necessary, and

the owner must not allow the dog to attack, rush at or threaten any person or animal.

Moreland City Council has off lead parks available. See the list of off-leash parks for dogs

If a dog is not restrained by means of a chain, cord or leash in a designated off-leash area, the owner must bring the dog under effective control by means of a chain, cord or leash at all times when the dog is within:

15 metres of:

any playground or children’s play equipment

the principal location of an organised sporting or community event or festival

the principal location of an organised public meeting, or

a permanent barbecue or picnic area when in use.

1 metre of:

a shared pathway (and at all times while on the shared pathway).

Prohibition

Dogs are prohibited within the immediate perimeter of any playground at all times.

Dogs are prohibited within any Creeks and Waterways at all times.

Review

Council may, by order of resolution:

remove a reserve or part of a reserve

add a reserve or part of a reserve, and

to the list of designated off-leash areas.

Definitions

'chain, cord or leash' means a chain, cord or leash which effectively restraints the dog,

'designated off-leash area' means a park or reserve or other place which has been designated by an order of Council under Section 26 of the Domestic Animals Act 1994, as contained in the list above,

'owner' has the same meaning as in the Domestic Animals Act 1994,

'public place' has the same meaning as in section 3 of the Summary Offences Act 1966

'shared path' has the same meaning as in Road Rule 242 of the Road Rules – Victoria

That the above order take effect from Monday 3 April 2006.

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nawnim   

These are some of the guidelines for use of off-leash dog parks in Canberra. It is taken from the DAS website.

Key things to remember

•Body language – learn to read and respond to your dog’s posture and body language.

•Packs – several dogs joining together as a pack can lead to problems. Lead your dog away from the group to a neutral area.

•Possession – dogs can protect their toys, treats and people. Shared toys can also lead to the spread of disease. Toys and food, with the exception of discrete small training treats, should not be brought into the enclosure.

•Behaviour – if at any time your dog becomes overly anxious, annoying or aggressive leave the park and come back another time.

•Control – dogs should be under the care of an owner who is at least 16 years old. They must be fully responsible for the actions of their dog at all times.

•Children – children in the enclosure should be supervised closely. Children under the age of 14 should not enter without an adult.

•Smoking – smoking is not allowed in the enclosure. Cigarette butts are potentially harmful if ingested by dogs.

There is also a useful book Meet and Greet, an etiquette guide for off leash dog park behaviour by Gwen McArthur.

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The ACT has a good set of guidelines for Dog Park Ettiquette

http://www.tams.act.gov.au/play/pcl/get_out_there/where_to_go/wherecanitakemydog/fenced_dog_park

The loudly yelled rules

* PICK UP AFTER YOUR DOG which implies the unspoken rule of Watch your dog all the time.

* GET YOUR DOG AWAY FROM MINE NO HUMPING - don't let your dog hump other dogs

* GET YOUR DOG AWAY FROM MINE no bullying - don't let your dog harrass other dogs unless you've discussed it with the other dog's owner and they're happy their dog is happy with the play

Unspoken rules

* Always ask the owner before letting your dog greet a new dog. do not let your dog greet new dogs unsupervised.

* if you have a ball and my dog steals it (because your dog abandoned it) - don't throw it again while my dog can still see you.

* carry at least two dog poo pick up bags. one for you, and one to share for that person who "forgot"

* if you see someone look at their dog's poo and then look around furtively - offer them a bag politely. Make it easy for them to do the right thing - point out the nearest bin too. Nothing like the fugue induced by an embarrasing dog to cause blindness (can't see the bags or the bin).

* keep your dog away from small children - they're unpredictable, sometimes savage and their parents are worse.

* no picnics on the ground in dog parks. If you have one on a table have at least two people who do not need to watch dogs - to guard it.

* do not feed children inside dog parks - dogs will steal the food.

* do not take dogs who hate other dogs into dog parks that have other dogs in. If you get to the dog park and there is only one dog in it or only one owner - ask before going in, to give them a chance to catch their grumpy dogs and leave or at least warn you to keep your dog away. Make sure you get an answer ok from them before going in. Your dog's life may depend on it.

* if there are six dogs waiting for your dog on the other side of the gate - do not go in unless you know all those dogs. Get the owners to supervise - on the flip side - do not let your dog wait at the gate for a new dog. Supervise, ask etc.

* if your dog is prone to crashing into things - do not let it run around near people - where it can cause serious damage knocking people over.

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nawnim   

The ACT has a good set of guidelines for Dog Park Ettiquette

http://www.tams.act.gov.au/play/pcl/get_out_there/where_to_go/wherecanitakemydog/fenced_dog_park

The loudly yelled rules

* PICK UP AFTER YOUR DOG which implies the unspoken rule of Watch your dog all the time.

* GET YOUR DOG AWAY FROM MINE NO HUMPING - don't let your dog hump other dogs

* GET YOUR DOG AWAY FROM MINE no bullying - don't let your dog harrass other dogs unless you've discussed it with the other dog's owner and they're happy their dog is happy with the play

Unspoken rules

* Always ask the owner before letting your dog greet a new dog. do not let your dog greet new dogs unsupervised.

* if you have a ball and my dog steals it (because your dog abandoned it) - don't throw it again while my dog can still see you.

* carry at least two dog poo pick up bags. one for you, and one to share for that person who "forgot"

* if you see someone look at their dog's poo and then look around furtively - offer them a bag politely. Make it easy for them to do the right thing - point out the nearest bin too. Nothing like the fugue induced by an embarrasing dog to cause blindness (can't see the bags or the bin).

* keep your dog away from small children - they're unpredictable, sometimes savage and their parents are worse.

* no picnics on the ground in dog parks. If you have one on a table have at least two people who do not need to watch dogs - to guard it.

* do not feed children inside dog parks - dogs will steal the food.

* do not take dogs who hate other dogs into dog parks that have other dogs in. If you get to the dog park and there is only one dog in it or only one owner - ask before going in, to give them a chance to catch their grumpy dogs and leave or at least warn you to keep your dog away. Make sure you get an answer ok from them before going in. Your dog's life may depend on it.

* if there are six dogs waiting for your dog on the other side of the gate - do not go in unless you know all those dogs. Get the owners to supervise - on the flip side - do not let your dog wait at the gate for a new dog. Supervise, ask etc.

* if your dog is prone to crashing into things - do not let it run around near people - where it can cause serious damage knocking people over.

Dog parks in the ACT and in SA may be different, but here there are no picnic tables and I can't imagine why anybody would want to have a picnic surrounded by a dozen salivating dogs.

I also have a concern about young children in dog parks. My dogs do not live with children and I do not know how they would react. I will not go into a dog park if there are young children there and if they should arrive while I am there I leave. Personally I would not take young children into a dog park especially if there were lots of dogs already there. Only recently I saw a woman with a GSD cross in a dog park with a child of about three months in her arms and a toddler of about two holding her hand. I don't know what she was going to do if her dog needed to be restrained. Quite frankly I think dog parks are primarily for dogs not children. Children have their own parks where dogs are not allowed.

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The guidelines are your state dog laws .

And common sense which is sadly lacking .

Basically all dogs should be under effective control on or off leash and you should be able to keep them from approaching any other dogs or humans without an invitation to do so. Off lead areas were designed to allow dogs to have much needed off lead exercise, so they could have a run, fetch a ball, etc. Somewhere along the line people started assuming that off lead meant a whole lot of dogs have a free for all and that was never the original intention at all.

Before there were any specific off lead parks I used to let my trained dogs off lead in safe parks to have a sniff and a run, but recall them and put them back on lead as soon as any person or dog approached. Now they are only supposed to be off lead in designated off lead parks and I have no intention of letting my dog anywhere near off lead dogs I don't know.

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Padraic, I find find it so frustrating when kids are running round the dog parks here in Canberra. Like you said, they are specifically dog parks, not shared areas and kids have their own parks to play in, as well as everywhere else that is on leash for dogs. I have a constant battle with preventing Quinn (10 month old Aussie Shep) from jumping on kids, who she may well accidentally hurt or knock over, in the dog park. She loooooves kids and I'm working really hard on teaching her not to jump up but it's so frustrating when she has to spend half our time there on leash while someone's kid runs around the park.

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Just wanted to add, Quinn now has excellent recall, especially now I've introduced cheese and taught her the word - she will come away from running towards a kid at the word cheese but I get sick of yelling "cheese" like an idiot every 20 seconds when she wants to run back over to the kid.

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Guest donatella   
Guest donatella
* no picnics on the ground in dog parks.

:vomit:

the fact that even had to be mentioned makes me lose faith in the human race.

Edited by donatella

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hankdog   

if you go at roughly the same time you may find a group of regulars. I've been lucky enough to live near two dog parks and my last big dog loved to run with his pack. They get to know each other as do the owners and a pecking order is established, I do miss my 5 o'clock ball game.

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Pippa   

* if you have a ball and my dog steals it (because your dog abandoned it) - don't throw it again while my dog can still see you.

Disagree. Don't allow your dog to steal other dog's balls and then run off with them and refuse to give them up. Teach your dog to "leave" and "give", or give him a ball of his own.

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megan_   

In Melbourne there are no dog parks, only parks for everyone that allow dogs off leash. My old off leash park had tables, people jogging, kids riding bikes etc. I loved it because everyone had great control over their dogs.

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percyk   

we dont go...

i think thxeyre mostly a melting pot..of potential trouble

its ok if they have plenty of room but it only takes one over-excited in your face dog to start trouble

too many people with very little knowledge of how to read their dog and others

saw a little dog die in a park a few years ago

and have seen fights...ears torn...dogs knocked for a six

people hurt too...knocked over by big boisterous dogs hitting them in the back of their knees

nup...not for us

we used to sit and watch from the outside ...nice to see some dogs having a ball but too risky for our dogs

we prefer to go on long walks...off leash stuff is reserved for long or deserted beaches unfortunately

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nawnim   

* if you have a ball and my dog steals it (because your dog abandoned it) - don't throw it again while my dog can still see you.

Disagree. Don't allow your dog to steal other dog's balls and then run off with them and refuse to give them up. Teach your dog to "leave" and "give", or give him a ball of his own.

The use of balls in dog parks is a contentious issue. I quote from my earlier post one of the rules here in the ACT taken from the DAS website.

Possession – dogs can protect their toys, treats and people. Shared toys can also lead to the spread of disease. Toys and food, with the exception of discrete small training treats, should not be brought into the enclosure.

I think this rule is a good one and prevents disputes erupting.

Edited by padraic

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Greyt   

Just be aware of your dogs propensities and have a plan for any behaviour issues at all.

When kids are about, I put my dogs on lead as the risk of a child getting bowled over is too great and the consequences too dire for me to even think about.

When talking to the friendly regulars, always keep both eyes on your dog.

Don't be scared to block another dog from approaching if you do not like its body language.

Don't let your dog engage in too rough play... learn to read any signs of escalation and step in quickly before things get out of hand.

Look out for other responsible owners dogs.

I like to get my dogs to drink straight from a tap as I hate the though of kennel cough infected mucous pits that shared water bowls can be.

Have fun:-)

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Just be aware of your dogs propensities and have a plan for any behaviour issues at all.

When kids are about, I put my dogs on lead as the risk of a child getting bowled over is too great and the consequences too dire for me to even think about.

When talking to the friendly regulars, always keep both eyes on your dog.

Don't be scared to block another dog from approaching if you do not like its body language.

Don't let your dog engage in too rough play... learn to read any signs of escalation and step in quickly before things get out of hand.

Look out for other responsible owners dogs.

I like to get my dogs to drink straight from a tap as I hate the though of kennel cough infected mucous pits that shared water bowls can be.

Have fun:-)

Great response...

The reason we only stay for about half an hour now is that seems to be Zig's limit before his excitement escalates to a level where he forgets his recall as he is just to excited with everything going on...

I forgot about the sharing stuff. We take our own water in a pop top bottle and he drinks from that...

I tend to move him away from any kids if they turn up.. He seems happy to avoid kids under about 10 anyway..

We do take a ball and the whole group that we see all the time play great with it together...

Dog parks are definitely a learning curve and I do understand why some people avoid them.. But if you are lucky enough to mix with a group where the dogs get along well, then it is a good form of socialisation in my opinion... Some dogs do better with it than others...

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@pippa

My dog will give up the ball on command - but it helps if the owner of the ball will give me time to get my dog back on lead and warn me they intend to keep throwing their ball for their dog who doesn't want it any more... Just give me two seconds to clip the lead on. Mostly she ignores the ball obsessed dogs and their balls.

Often I get the ball back the first time, and return it, but the second time - they get their ball back in little pieces. And as padraic said and the ACT park rules said - it's often a cause for fights - though my dog will give the ball back to any dog that wants it. She just loves the game of chase me that often ensues from a stolen ball - and some owners are good with that but some aren't and I'm not good with it if the ball is the sort she smashes.

That's the thing with dog parks - 90% of dog owners let their dogs go charging up to any dog they like, steal balls without returning them, scare little children, steal food... and a lot of other dog owners compound the problem by handing out treats or pats to a dog that is being called by its owner (nasty - rewarding someone else's dog for being naughty).

Quite a few of the dog off lead areas in SA are shared use eg the beach, a lot of sports ovals etc. And a lot of them have playgrounds and picnic tables and bbq areas. The better ones - the play grounds and bbqs are fenced off but a lot of people want to bring their dog as part of the family for a bbq / picnic. And while they can cope with their own salivating dog - it gets a bit exciting when there are 10 salivating dogs and one trying to guard his pack and salivate at the same time.

Not an unspoken rule but I wish it was...

if you have a slobbery dog - bring a suitable sized towel to wipe the slobber off other dogs and people - or keep your dog away from other dogs and people.

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