This material has been compiled from information found in various
books and online sources (see Bibliography). The Sequim Dog Park
Rules are listed for clarity purposes to support safe use of the
Sequim off-leash City Dog Park. Names, addresses, and phone numbers
of local medical and veterinarian services are listed for convenient
reference purposes only. None of these listed parties are in any way
connected with the information printed herein or necessarily agree
with the information printed herein. USE THIS INFORMATION AT YOUR
OWN DISCRETION. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE AND LIABLE FOR YOUR OWN DOG'S
The Sequim Dog Park Pals are a loosely organized group of dog owners who advocate for the education of dog owners to be accountable for the behavior of their dogs at the Sequim off-leash dog park. Our goal is to help make the dog park a safe and enjoyable experience for dogs and their owners.
It is important for all dog owners who use the off-leash dog park to know that they assume full responsibility for their dog's behavior and they use the dog park at their own risk. You are responsible for damage and/or injury inflicted by your dog(s).
The purpose of this document is to provide you with information that may be useful in making your dog park experience positive and enjoyable. This information is a compilation of information taken from various sources (see Bibliography).
You are expected to use your best judgment as to when it is safe to intervene and when it isn’t. This is true in both human and canine interactions. If you feel threatened, contact the Sequim police department at 360-683-7227 or dial 9-1-1. NOTE: Please, ONLY use 9-1-1 is you believe this is a life threatening emergency!
For more information, see our Dog Park Rules Page.
Whenever a new dog enters a dog park certain behaviors will typically occur. Initially, there may be an increase in activity, noise and sniffing. Eventually, with mounting, wrestling, possession claiming, posturing, and vocalizing, ranking orders are adjusted to make room for the newcomer. Some canines enter this group as lowly underdogs, and others come in like leaders of the pack, moving up fast in rank.
Spend some time observing dogs playing together including your own. Dogs may have different playing styles based on size, breed and temperament.
Dog mounting can cause the less animal-experienced owner great embarrassment or annoyance but is a perfectly natural mode of canine interaction. Dogs may mount one another for amorous reasons, regardless of gender, especially during adolescence (anywhere from 4 months to 2 years of age), regardless of sex or being neutered. Most of the time mounting behavior occurs between adult dogs to establish dominance; a dog that assumes the mounting posture is informing the 'underdog' clearly that it is subordinate in rank. When the mounted dog tolerates the other's behavior it is yielding to the dominating dog's higher rank. This is a much ritualized mode of canine interaction that helps dogs to establish ranking order without violence.
Dog-to-dog interactions follow rules of etiquette that make perfect sense to the dogs. Inexperienced dogs and young puppies can be overwhelmed, terrified, or traumatized by suddenly finding themselves in the middle of a canine melee.
Dogs that roll on their back are signaling that they are withdrawing from active, solicitous interaction. If their limbs and tail are flaccid and their neck is fully exposed, they may invite/tolerate more passive interaction (e.g. sniffing, petting) from others. If they tuck their tail and put their paws over their chest and groin, they do not wish to interact, period.
A normal dog recognizes this and withdraws, not because the first dog "submits" to them, but because they are capable of responding appropriately to the signals.
Owners with timid, overwhelmed or fearful dogs should introduce their dog gradually to the park by:
Special steps should be taken if a dog is behaving defensively, running to its owner for protection or behaving in a defensively aggressive manner. Advise owners to be careful not to pick the dog up unless it is the only recourse and the dog truly is in danger. A panicked pet picked up by its owner may bite accidentally. The owner is also undermining the dog’s confidence—giving the dog the message that he can’t handle the other dogs.
Dogs have different play styles. Rough play is only allowed if consensual and both dogs are having fun. Owners are responsible for their dog’s behavior. If a dog is playing too rough or behaving in an aggressive manner, ask the owner to step in and control their pet. They may need to move to another area of the park or leash him or her and leave the park. Rough play and chasing is not acceptable if any of the dogs involved are not enjoying it.
During play it is normal and appropriate for dogs and puppies to:
Request that owners intervene when:
Dogs can be bullies, competitive over resources, socially uncomfortable or defensive. Male dogs are statistically at much higher risk to tangle with other males (although this statistic includes intact dogs, the risk for a neutered male is much lower). This mix can make for regular excitement at dog parks! The solution lies in owner constant observation, surveillance and intervention.
If dogs play well usually but seem to target certain dogs for bullying, they can be given a time-out for their bullying behavior. If dogs are strong resource guarders, this can be ascertained and managed. If dogs are under-socialized, their confidence can be gradually built up with careful planning.
There always is the risk that two or more dogs will engage in a serious, possibly injury-causing fight. Injury can happen at any time, especially when dogs are engaging in rough-and-tumble play together. Redirecting a dog’s attention at exactly the right moment can make all the difference. The tone of voice and body language can also make a big difference in preventing a dogfight. Advise owners to keep calm and don’t reinforce fearful or aggressive behavior by soothing the dog with petting or cooing sounds. Try to keep the owners moving around the park to help break up dog packing behaviors.
Every dog (regardless of parentage, pedigree or personality) posses the full repertoire of normal canine behavior:
All of the above are normal canine behaviors and are an integral part of canine communications.
The breed or gender of the dog is no guarantee that dogs will or will not fight. As a general rule of thumb, females usually fight females, and males usually fight males. All dogs don't (and won't) get along. Dogs can be just like people in that they may just not like a particular dog ... no reason, "I just don't like you." And other dogs may hold a grudge (just like some people do).
The only difference between individual dogs and the larger group of individual breeds is the readiness with which various behaviors can be triggered and the extent to which a dog will carry his aggression. Dogs created to guard (for example: Chows, Akitas) or fight (for example: Pit Bulls, American Staffordshire Terriers, etc.) may be more quickly triggered to act in aggressive ways than a dog bred to work as a bird dog or as a lap dog, but this is no guarantee that a dog will not fight.
Most dogs (with the exception of dogs bred for fighting and the rare individual) don’t enjoy arguments, altercations or fisticuffs any more than the average human being does. Being angry, defensive or afraid are not enjoyable for the canine either.
The easiest way to handle a dog fight is to prevent it. Learn to read dog language and posture. Immediately separate dogs who project fighting posture. Separate means to remove both dogs from the area. A 'time out' or 'cooling off' period may be in order.
The speed of warning signals and the progression from mild irritation to more serious phases can vary greatly. Just as some humans have a very long fuse there are others that will react like a grenade with a pin pulled.
Dogs that disagree with each other usually bark, growl or snap, and almost never make contact. When they do, there is usually a nick on an ear or the top of the head or shoulders. Hanging or biting on the neck is not normal dog to dog behavior. They are behaviors that are associated with predatory events.
These tips are from Ed Frawley from his web article “How to Break up a Dog Fight Safely”. You are under no obligation to use any of these techniques or to break up a fight. Dog fights are very dangerous to try to break up. You may be hurt, so it is totally up to you the degree that they want to be involved. If you choose to do so, then this is a technique that will work with minimal damage to the humans or dogs.
NOTE: Never, ever, rush in and try to grab the dogs to pull them apart. Their adrenaline is pumping and they will bite anything and anyone, including you.
First Aid for Dogs and Humans
It is recommended that owners take dogs to their vet. Bite wounds are often more serious then they appear because the damage on the surface of the skin is usually less severe than the injury to underlying tissue. The muscle under the skin is often bruised, crushed or torn and the wound can be extremely painful. Bite wounds often become infected.
Human bite wounds should always go to the emergency room or their family doctor.
Primary Health Care Urgent Care
Jefferson General Hospital
Olympic Medical Center
Clinicare of Port Angeles, Inc
Greywolf Veterinary Hospital
Pacific Northwest Veterinary Hospital
Heat stroke is a common occurrence during the hot months of the year. Dogs are prone to overheating because they do not sweat. Other factors such as obesity, advanced age or infancy can also make a dog more vulnerable to heat.
Symptoms (some or all may be present)
Cool the dog down immediately by soaking with water (use a piece of clothing in the dog watering facility to wet the dog down if nothing else is available). Transport to emergency hospital immediately.
Wet your dog down periodically. Offer water frequently. Dogs at risk should not use the park during the heat of the day.
If a dog suddenly starts clawing at their face or drooling excessively they may have been bit or stung. The owner should contact their vet in case of an anaphylactic reaction.
Dog Body Language 101
Website Last Updated: Tuesday, March 08, 2016
Photos at the park