Here are a few more tips for dog park goersTips for pros and beginners in dog parks in Melbourne
1 TRUE dog park etiquette is NOT a list of what dog's can't do, but a guide to how you want all dogs to become. Yes you carry a lead, carry poo bags, and watch your dog play. This is common sense.
2 About asking other dog owners if it is ok for your dog to say hello to their dog
This is about your 'level of understanding dog behaviour' not a RULE. If a dog is on lead in a dog park, it is usually because it doesn't have recall yet, or it could be anxious/ aggressive BECAUSE OF lack of socialisation. If in doubt if your dog can say 'hello' - of course ask. BUT the other owner SHOULD have a muzzle on their dog if there is any doubt about how friendly it is. Why council wants to put the onus back onto the social dog is beyond reasoning.
3 During walks I usually include time for dog play or sniffing. I stop walking and I let them rest or play as they want. I don't throw a ball as this takes a dogs mind off being social and can set up for aggression.
A lot of working dog owners regularly play retrieve the entire time they are in the park. I dont think this is healthy but just a attempt to tire their dogs out. But if dogs can do this and remain friendly, its their owners choice. Dog parks are ideally for socialisation, not just somewhere to repetitively throw the ball, to solve the owners problem. Toy guarding and fights are a potential issue - but again we learn what dogs want and avoid if they have issues.
4 Some people have the ludicrous notion that dogs should only interact with their own breed or dogs of the same size. This is how you set up anti social dog behaviour. If you look at any of the photos or videos of my dog pack in my car or on bench seats in my fb posts, you will see that there is a massive variance in breed and size. Puppies that are social want to play with almost any dog. But as dogs become older they restrict their desire to play with every dog, because this in an adult often means a challenge to pack status and can lead to play becoming too serious,
The very point about Professional dog walks is safely exposing dogs of all breeds and sizes to each other. As long as a dog is social (because its been walked regularly, or has a gentle confident nature) this mixing with new dogs of all sizes each times reinforces to a dog that there is nothing to fear just because a dog is different from them. Us humans could learn a lot from watching SOCIAL dog behaviour.
5 We need more dog parks, with less restrictions rather than the current trend which is opposite to this. Its great having trained dogs, but training has nothing to do with a dog being social or happy. Dog socialisation takes much more time so is less attractive.
Dog parks are currently set up mostly on dump sites where townhouses can't easily be built and are begrudgingly maintained by council. Often those in charge dont understand the vital part that their parks play in keeping a community happy, by keeping dogs social and happy.