Etiquette in dog-friendly parks

Most South Wales parks are dog-friendly, and 95% of dog park etiquette is just common sense. Always carry plastic bags and pick up after your pooch, and make sure they’re either kept on a lead or trained to come back at your call no matter what else is going on. That might mean abandoning an interesting smell, a rabbit in the bushes, or another dog- big temptations!

In local parks most people keep their dogs on leads, but in country parks they’re often allowed to run free. That’s fine most of the time as long as the dog is friendly to other walkers (including kids) and other dogs, who might also be enjoying a dash around outside. However, problems do sometimes arise.

The most prevalent issue pops up when dogs meet livestock. Most country parks back onto farmland or common land, and while dogs might be perfectly welcome in the public parks they aren’t at all welcome to chase sheep or scare cattle. If you plan to walk your dog in the countryside it’s always a good idea to keep them on the lead around animals. Make sure they’re accustomed to walking calmly past a field of sheep before letting them run free anywhere they might encounter livestock. It’s not just about the wellbeing of the chased either- an angry cow can kill or do a lot of damage to the chaser.

It’s also worth remembering that large dogs, however friendly, can be frightening. A Rottweiler or a German Shepard might just be bounding up to a stranger to say hello and get a pat on the head but the stranger will not know that and may get quite a scare. Keep your dogs close by even if they aren’t on the lead and be sure to call them away from other people. That goes double for children.

Thankfully there are very few serious incidents in dog-friendly parks in this part of the world and still plenty of places where dog owners can let their animals run around off the lead. As long as everyone pays attention to signage and sticks to a few simple rules it should stay that way, and both dogs and people will be able to enjoy the outdoors together in years to come.