February 09, 2023 5 min read
To outsiders the dog park may look like a patch of land where dog owners meet and where puppies get to socialize.
For dogs, it is the canine version of Walt Disney World. For dog owners, a trip to the dog park is guaranteed to be a cocktail of fun and awkwardly embarrassing moments. It is a whole world of its own, complete with its own social codes.
And, what’s more? Our dogs are blissfully unaware. This can only lead to experiencing painfully embarrassing moments that all good pawrents will spend the rest of the week ruminating over.
Don’t get us wrong. A dog park is a fantastic place where dogs can run safely off the leash and play with other dogs. Not only does this help with their socialization skills but it also allows them to build strong bonds. The dog park is one of the only public places where dogs can interact with other dogs and develop their natural communication skills. From sniffing to digging, there are endless ways for our pups to explore their surroundings.
And, this is all without mentioning the human benefits. The dog park is a fantastic way to meet other owners and form friendships with like-minded people. Not only will other dog owners jump at the opportunity to see the gazillion dog pics stored in your phone but they will also be the first to sympathize with you when your dog is causing an embarrassing situation.
Picture this: It’s a warm sunny day, a handful of people are gathered at the dog park and all the dogs are happily playing. Everything seems under control. Except, out of the corner of your eye you spy a rogue dog who is displaying an overly zealous approach to making friends. It’s your dog who has decided that they are the canine Cassanova. While mortal shame rushes through every cell of your body, everyone is making awkward glances in your direction leaving you with no option but to separate your dog from its unsuspecting victim. Welcome to the joys of being a pawrent! While you cannot control your dog’s lust for “life”, being aware of their stress levels can help minimize their chances of reacting in a more than PG-13 way.
It is easy to throw on some old clothes and head to the dog park. After all, you will literally be in a muddy field with a dozen dogs all jumping up wanting to be petted. Yet, there is a fine line between dressing for muddy footprints and looking like a crazy person. And, the chances are the day you dress looking a little less put together is the day you bump into your dog park crush - with a big bag of steaming poop in your hand to top off the look!
It can’t be helped. That big pile of poop in the far corner of the dog park is calling your dog’s name. It is like a magnet, drawing your dog closer and closer until suddenly it disappears and your dog comes running up to you, proudly licking its lips. All of this before the other owner has time to clear up their pup’s mess. It doesn’t matter how tasty your treats are, nothing tastes as gourmet in your dog’s mind as poop. Pawrents: 0 Dog: 1.
We can guarantee that the one thing dogs love more than their owners is food. Gifted with an elaborate sense of smell, our pups can sniff out a tasty morsel a mile away. Nothing is safe from their superior olfactory system. We need eyes in the back of our heads at the dog park, especially when other dog owners come armed with delicious dog treats. Just one sniff and your dog is snout deep into the bag leaving you red-faced and pleading for forgiveness.
Regardless of the amount of poop your dog has done before entering the park, there is something about the natural environment that encourages them to listen to nature’s call. And, you can guarantee that this will happen on the day you used your last poop bag before entering the park - queue a sudden panic and social awkwardness as you ask the other pawrents for a bag.
The dog park is all fun and games - literally. But when someone brings out a tennis ball all hell breaks loose. Suddenly your dog decides that it’s their ball and that no other living being, canine or otherwise, will be allowed to play with it. Within seconds they have the ball between their jaws and they are skillfully chewing it to shreds leaving you with no other choice but to hand over cash for a new one. Sound familiar?
Following on from the previous embarrassing incident, sharing is a foreign word when it comes to most dogs. Whether it is a stick, treats, a water bowl, or a tennis ball - there is nothing stopping them from wanting to dominate. We know this is not correct or friendly behavior yet, in the moment, all we can do is try to distract them so that the object can be returned to its rightful owner.
It is common knowledge not to wear our best clothes to the dog park. But, it doesn’t make it less embarrassing when your dog accidentally jump up and leave muddy footprints on someone’s shirt. Of course, the other person will dust themselves off and say something along the lines of “It’s ok, it’s an old t-shirt” but we all know that deep down they are annoyed by your dog’s lack of manners.
If there is something dogs love more than eating poop it is rolling in it. A primal instinct that we wish decades of breeding had eliminated, rolling in poop is a common puppy pastime. When all other dogs are playing and having fun, your dog has decided to try nature’s perfume. Now wherever you go you will be followed around by a bad smell. It is a good job that they are cute!
Prepare for a full-blown meltdown if you attempt to cut playtime short. Other dogs appear to be able to control their emotions and rationalize the fact that they are likely to return to the park again soon. But your dog decides to lead you on a mad goose chase around the park and eventually play dead giving you no other option than to drag them out of the park.