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Are you the heaps proud owner of one beautiful doggerooni? Do you like to venture out into the big bad world with your BFFL, a stick-throwin’-and-retrievin’, treat-givin’-and-receivin’ machine?
This is good! I like your go-get-’em attitude. You are almost ready to take your pupper pal out for a friendly stroll – Lord knows he probably needs it, full of pent-up energy, and the desire to sniff ALL THE THINGS.
But there’s a few things you should probably know before you hit up your local with your wooferino – the unspoken rules of the dog park.
Don’t let your precious pup become a nefarious nuisance
No digging! No trampling the flowers! Do not let your doggo run loose in the community veggie patch! Basic stuff gang, which all comes down to keeping an eye on your guy in the dog park. You want ’em to stay safe and outta trouble.
While you’re keeping an eye on them, make sure they’re sticking to the size-appropriate part of the park – small dogs with small dogs, bear dogs with other bear dogs, etcetera. While your pal may get along with all sizes of dog, a small dog can be unintentionally injured by a bigger one.
“Bark Wahlberg, get off Jennifer Pawrence”
a) These are real dog names people have actually given their dogs, I did not make them up, and b) You will inevitably be faced by the trauma that is your dog trying to hump someone else’s dog. Do not let them do this. Like really, you should always be within like a hundred metres of your doggo so you can yank him off that poor canine.
Dogs are as horny like the rest of us, but their libido can be easily managed. If you’re not planning on fostering a litter, just get ’em desexed from the age of eight weeks, guys. According to the RSPCA, desexed pups are not only not getting pregs, they’re likely to live longer, are less likely to get diseases and certain illnesses, and will have less behavioural probs: boyyos will be less prone to aggression, urine marking and roaming, and gals mating behaviour and false pregnancy.
Clean up after them, pls
I should not have to say this, but for Christ’s sake, if your doggo goes number two, whip out the poo bag, scoop it up and bin it. Not only does it keep the park clean, and is the respectful thing to do (even other dog owners don’t want poop shoes), but it’s also important for your dog’s wellbeing.
Why? Well, because that poo may have worm eggs in it, and you do not, I repeat, do not want your doggo to get worms. Worms can not only be dangerous to your pal, causing life-threatening illnesses, or just the unpleasantness of gastro upsets, but to you and your fam as well. Something like roundworm, Toxocara canis, can srsly harm your nieces, nephews, little brother, with cooked consequences like seizures or blindness if worm larvae end up in the brain or eye.
But, cool fact, there’s a Milbemax tablet to protect your pet and yourself. Treat your pup every three months to protect against tapeworm, roundworm, hookworm and whipworm (now that’s a can of worms).
For the love of god, remember their leash
You know you can only take your dog bro outta the house when he’s on a leash – until you get to the off-leash section of the dog park. It keeps ’em from getting in the grill of scared dogs and stops tragic accidents, like your pup running off all of a sudden.
Once you make it to the off-leash section, you oughta remove his entire leash, or else your buddy may start running in circles dragging it behind him, or just generally lead to more aggressive behaviour. Turns out dogs off leash use the right body language to get dogs they’re not into to back off, and they themselves are more able to move away from threatening dogs.
Only give treats to your fur baby
It’s best not to give treats to other dogs: you don’t know if they’re on a special diet, or may be allergic to them. Your best call is to start up a chat with their owner and ask permission. While it is delightful to see another man’s dog ‘Sit!’ and roll over for a bikkie, it can actually be sorta dangerous.
Speakin’ of danger: while it’s not a treat, you should make sure your dog is flea- and tick-free, microchipped and vaccinated before you take ’em out for the first time. The needles are good for both your dog’s health and that of their new gang, and the microchip will put you at ease: should you and Puprah Winfrey be temporarily parted, his chip can be scanned by vets, animal shelters or local councils who have all your deets on file, and you guys will be reunited.
Congratulations! You are now ready to set your doggo free to play with all his canine kinsmen in the dog park.Image: Getty Images / Elizabeth W Kearley