It’s the time of year when everyone is enjoying the outdoors. It’s a great time to get out and about with pets. Over the past several years, the New Orleans metro area has become more of a dog park community, with great outdoor spaces being designed specifically for spending time with our pets. While the concept of bringing a dog to one of these parks is a good one, the outing can quickly turn sour if the humans involved do not follow the rules. Here are some guidelines to make a romp in the park a positive experience for all:
Pay attention: In this day and age of electronic devices, pet owners are often distracted and do not monitor the behavior of their dogs and of the other dogs. Just like with children on the playground, altercations can quickly arise, and pet owners must always be alert to their pets and the surroundings.
Practice good manners: Please scoop the poop. It is a health hazard that can harbor lots of diseases and parasites. Make sure to have plenty of bags on hand and clean up after your pet.
Must play well with others: If Fido does not share well with others, the dog park may not be right for him. The potential for disaster greatly increases if a dog does not do well with sharing toys or treats.
Dogs that are not dog-friendly do not belong at the dog park: If a dog prefers to ride solo, bringing him to the dog park is not going to change his mind. Do not risk putting him or other dogs in danger if he is not sociable. A walk on the levee or around the neighborhood on a short leash may be a better alternative.
Off-leash areas mean off-leash dogs: Owners new to the dog park world and the off-leash concept may attempt to keep their dog on a leash to feel more secure. Bad idea! This will actually make a dog feel more insecure and can trigger fights. Dogs need to feel they are on equal footing with the other dogs around.
Spayed/neutered pets only: This is a no-brainer. A female in heat and unneutered males should never be at a dog park: ever.
Puppies are not quite ready to enjoy the dog park: Puppies under 12 weeks of age and/or dogs that are not up to date on vaccinations should not visit a dog park. A dog park can be a breeding ground for disease, and new puppies are highly susceptible. Wait until he is old enough and the vet gives the green light before venturing out to the park.
BUDDY BREAK: The Jefferson SPCA will sponsor a Buddy Break from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at Lafayette Square in the New Orleans Central Business District. Buddy Breaks provide brisk afternoon walks for office workers and shelter dogs; everyone gets the fresh air, camaraderie, exercise and tail-wagging they need. For information, email email@example.com.
ADOPTION EVENT: Animal Rescue New Orleans will hold an adoption event from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at Petco, 3520 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie. For information, email adopt@animalrescuenew orleans.org.
BOXER ADOPTION EVENT: Friendly Powersports of Slidell will hold an open house and adoption event for Louisiana Boxer Rescue from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at 888 Old Spanish Trail, Slidell. For information, visit louisianaboxerrescue.org.
CRITTER CINEMA: A Critter Cinema event for children ages 5 to 10 will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Louisiana SPCA, 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd., New Orleans. Animal-loving, pizza-eating, movie-watching kids will play with puppies and kittens and enjoy a G-rated critter movie, crafts, games and more. Participants are invited to bring a sleeping bag, pillow and pajamas.
ADOPTION EVENT: The Louisiana SPCA will hold an adoption event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Petco, 3500 Williams Blvd., Kenner. For information, call (504) 368-5191 or visit la-spca.org.
BEGINNING MANNERS FOR DOGS: The Louisiana SPCA will begin a five-week class in manners for dogs Monday at 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd. The class is limited to six students and is suitable for dogs who are easily distracted or handlers who are new to training. Dogs must be friendly to other dogs and people and nonreactive. The cost for the five sessions is $115 and registration is required. For information, visit la-spca.org/grouptraining.
LOST OR FOUND PETS: In Orleans Parish, send a photo, description of the pet, date lost/found and contact info to firstname.lastname@example.org. In Jefferson Parish, send to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. In St. Bernard Parish, send to email@example.com.
Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.