That is ShadowDog and he is not happy people can be poop-poop heads at the dog parks.

I was a founding member of the Augusta Dog Park committee and enjoy checking out dog parks where ever I travel. But when I hear stories of bad dog park encounters it is an opportunity to step back and look at how we should think about dog parks and what we can do to keep everyone safe and happy.

Here is the link to the Augusta Dog Park Guidelines on the Augusta, Maine website.  I will tell you it is great advice for ANY dog park encounter…so let me walk you through some of my suggestions:

-You are responsible for you and your dog.  As you will see most of my other suggestions are just an expansion of personal responsibly.

-These are public parks so you are using it at your own risk.

-You are dealing with other members of the public, so please follow the leash laws outside of the park and be police and courteous in the park.

-Keep an eye on your dog and be ready to act IF something happens.

-IF something does happen and your dog was involved, don’t run away.  If there was a scuffle and some dog was injured it is good to know that the other dog are current on vaccinations or info like that.

-POOP will happen. Clean up after you dog!  Many parks even provide bags…NO EXCUSES!

-If you insist on smoking (against the rules or not) don’t leave the butts in the park. They are dangerous if a dog were to eat one.  OH ya…and take your trash too.

-If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable with what is happening…leave and come again another day.

-If you dog is not reacting well with the other dogs in the park…leave … come again another day. I have had to do this many times, some dogs just to mix as well as others.

-Don’t bring a female in heat. Some unaltered males can get a little dominate at time. If you dog is not fixed just keep an eye on the mix of dogs and how they are getting along.

-Keep your dog up to date on shots and medical care.

-Gees, don’t being dog toys, treats or human food in the park.  Talk about asking for trouble.  DON’T feel other people’s dogs.  Just think…how many ways this could go wrong.

-Puppies.  I love puppies, but leave them at home until they are a little older.  Let their immune systems build up and get them grow into their body a little. Then it can be a great chance to let them burn of some energy and learn ‘dog stuff’. Ask you vet for advice.

-Dog bites/attacks and things that are real crimes, call the police! For example, the Augusta Dog Park is a City of Augusta property.   If there is a big or serious issue and the people leave…see if you can get the license plate info or type of car or if you can remember the name of dog or what the person looked like.  IF the police have some info they might be able to help resolve the issue.  Don’t just complain to the next person you see and expect that to magically resolve the issue.

AND last but not least…my biggest pet peeve….

-These are DOG parks …not kid parks. We have lots of kid parks. Take your kids there.  Let me walk you through this.  First, not all dogs are good with kids and this is a dog park. If you have to bring you kid in don’t let them run round around...please keep your kids calm and hold the little kiddos.  DOG PARK!  Also, parents, every inch of that park has been pooped and peed on. Every. Inch.  Get the picture?

OK…I am done.   I guess I am just asking you to respect others, take personal responsibility and remember every person in the dog park has one big connection to you…you are both ‘dog people’. Let's just have fun!