As someone who goes to multiple dogs parks every day, I run into a lot of frustrating, careless humans. I’m sure you’ve experienced them, and perhaps they are the reason you no longer enjoy visiting the many wonderful dog parks that we are blessed to have in our town. Or perhaps… you are one of those frustrating, careless humans! Either way, here is a rant… I mean a guide… on how to behave in the outside world!
- PICK UP YOUR POOP! gee wiz this seems like such a simple request, since you are actually required by law to remove your animals’ waste from any property that isn’t yours. The main reason for you to pick up your dog’s waste is so that other dogs (any animals) don’t eat it! Dog poop is one of the worst poops to eat! Yes, there are poops that are ok for animals to eat, such as deer, but dog poop is not one of them! I cannot tell you how many dogs I have met that have had to had gastrointestinal surgery due to eating dog feces! Would you want that vet bill? Also, every dog park and walking path is riddled with trash cans and poop bags, so it’s just laziness on your part.
- LEASH LAWS! So we all know Bend is dog friendly, but there are actually A LOT of places in town that require your dog to wear a leash. And no, it’s not because the city is run by jerks that want to keep your dog down, it’s for you and your dog’s safety! It’s real great that your dog is friendly to everyone they meet, but what happens when your off-leash dog encounters a dog aggressive dog that is on a leash walk with his human? If that leashed dog bites your dog, there is nothing you can do about it because you were breaking the law. You can try to press charges, but odds are the city will not be on your side, and you will be stuck with an injured family member. What happens when your off-leash dog approaches someone that is fearful of dogs? Well, in a terrible instance I have actually witnessed, your off-leash dog could get kicked in the face by a very large man. And again, nothing you can do about it, because you are not a law-abiding citizen. And worse case/pretty standard scenario, what if your off-leash dog is prancing around your feet through the parking lot (my god I hate when people let their dogs run around parking lots) and all of a sudden he sees a squirrel… or a deer… and he can’t control his instinct and he starts to run… and before you even notice he’s gone he’s hit by a car. Again, nothing you can do. The driver would most likely not be at fault, and would ultimately have to live with the fact they hit a dog for the rest of their life. The reason for leash laws is to protect your dog from harm. Don’t be the person that thinks “that’ll never happen to me”.
- LITTER! This is the same concept as picking up your poop, but I’d also like to mention if you’re somewhere like Big Sky or Good Dog and you see litter on the ground, feel free to pick it up. I carry a small pouch around that I fill with shards of glass found at dog parks and on trails. You don’t have to be that nerdy about it, but if you see something you wouldn’t want your dog to eat or step on pick it up and toss it in the many trash bins.
- CELL PHONES! I get it. You have a lot of business that needs to be taken care of right this very moment, but going out with your dog should be a bonding experience. And if you hate bonding with your best friend, then at least stay off your phone so you can watch your dog as he starts trouble. Don’t be loudly airing all your dirty laundry to the public while Rex is off neck pinning puppies and humping elderly labs.
- GRUMPY DOGS! Please do not bring your dog to the dog park if they are not dog friendly. I work early, so sometimes I go to the dog park before the sun is up. I have often run into people in the dog park who are frantically calling their dogs back to them once they see another dog in the park. “I’m sorry he’s not friendly. I didn’t realize anyone else was in here.” Good rule of thumb to follow, SOMEONE IS ALWAYS IN THE DOG PARK. And if your dog gets into a fight and injures another, DO NOT JUST LEAVE WITH YOUR DOG! It’s like a car accident. You have to swap info and you have to pay their vet bills. This is part of the responsibility of having a dog… and being a decent human.
- CHILDREN! Similar to off-leash dogs, remember that not everyone likes children. Some dogs do not care for small people, so please be cautious when bringing your small children to the dog parks. It’s a place where dogs of all shapes and sizes come to play and run off steam. They are often not aware of their bodies and they can send small children flying. Dogs also have sharp teeth, that can easily injure children, even on accident. Children under 12 are not allowed in dog parks without adults. If your 9 year old is at the dog park and your dog gets into a bad fight, how will your 9 year old handle it? Odds are, not much better than your 12 year old. Small children should be carried to avoid any injuries. And as a side note, baby strollers and small children on bicycles do not belong in the dog park. You could scare or injure a dog, and this is their space, not yours.
- WATER! This isn’t really a suggestion… just a thank you to all the humans that bring water to dog parks during the winter!