In her latest column, North Bend resident and dog trainer for Miss Lola’s Academy, Melissa Grant, reminds dog owners of the rules and ins-and-outs of visiting Three Forks Dog Park in Snoqualmie.
We are very lucky to have 8 beautiful acres of mowed open space for small and large dogs to run free in the Snoqualmie Valley.
Three Forks Off-Leash Dog Park is a great place to take your dog for a bit of free-range running and playing. Dog parks are supposed to be a fun activity for dogs and humans alike, but often they are not.
Here are ten things humans should NOT do to make sure their dogs have a good time at the park:
- Fail to read the rules – They are posted in almost all dog parks. Take a minute to read them before letting Fido run free. I might even suggest you let your pooch cool his heels for a minute in the car while you go in and read. They usually include things like vaccination and licensing requirements, the minimum age for handlers and park hours. Get acquainted with the rules for any and all parks you visit.
- Not picking up after a dog – First off, it’s gross to walk into a park and have it be covered in dog feces. Secondly, it isn’t healthy or sanitary for a dog to walk on, roll in or god forbid, eat poo. There are many diseases and parasites that are transmitted through fecal matter so be on top of it and have your poop bags at the ready. Be prepared to cover a lot of ground at Three Forks Park. It’s big and you need to get that poop – even if it’s way over on the other side of the park
- Bringing too many dogs – The Park in Snoqualmie has a two dog per handler limit. There is a good reason for that limit – any more than that and you start to lose control. I’m sure there are a few of you that can control six dogs all at once, while juggling your Starbucks, but that isn’t the norm for most of us. If you have three dogs, either rotate your dogs in and out of the park or bring a friend.
- Coming into the park leashed – I get it. You’re nervous the first couple of times you come to a new place with your precious pooch. Having your dog leashed makes you feel more in control. But you cannot come into the park with a leashed dog. It sets up all sorts of weird greeting behavior between the leashed and unleashed canines. Leashes can also be dangerous and catch on things causing choking hazards. There is what I like to call an “airlock” at the gate of most parks; two gates where you can come in with a leashed dog, unleash and then come in the next gate into the park.
- Not removing training equipment – Some people walk their dogs on pinch collars, choke chains or harnesses. All should be removed before entering the park. A flat nylon buckle collar is all that you should have on your dog at the park. Metal collars and harnesses can get caught on a playing dog’s tooth and break teeth or jaws. Also, if a dog gets caught and cannot free himself from another dog’s pinch collar, you could easily find yourself with a bad dog fight. Take off the complicated training equipment before entering the park.
- Chatting with humans rather than watching your dog – Your number one priority at the park should be watching your dog, not chatting or looking at your smart phone. You wouldn’t ignore your children at a playground – and they don’t bite. Never take your eyes off your dog. By the same token, don’t spend your time scrolling your Facebook wall. Eyeballs should be on your dog at all times so that you can intervene and redirect if play gets too intense.
- Bringing a rude dog to the park – Just like some humans, some dogs are a little socially challenged. Know your pet and don’t bring a dog who doesn’t know how to play well, humps excessively or greets badly. The dogs aren’t going to “work it out.” They just met and may be vaguely uncomfortable in their new surroundings. If you find you are the rude dog, take your dog and go home. If you encounter a rude dog whose owner doesn’t intervene, take your dog and go home.
- Bringing a dog who has no recall skills – If you can’t call your dog to you under most circumstances, don’t bring him to the dog park. Recall is about more than just getting your dog back to you when you are ready to leave. Good recall means you can interrupt problems by getting your dog back to you quickly.
- Having a small dog in the same area as the large dogs – I learned this the hard way. I took my 15 pound puppy to Marymoor long ago and she was mobbed by a group of Rhodesian Ridgeback’s that viewed her less as a dog and more as prey. Some small dogs do well and can play with the big boys and some do not. Know which kind of dog you have.
- Forcing a fearful or shy dog to play – Dogs with fear issues need to be socialized in a controlled, slow manner. A dog park is anything but slow and controlled. Do not bring a dog to the park that doesn’t want to be there or is fearful. Call a trainer and get help with socialization. The dog park will only make issues worse.
Dog parks can be wonderful things – or they can be a total nightmare. Be careful and know your dog when choosing whether or not to utilize beautiful Three Forks Dog Park.
Good Luck and have fun! Woof!