By MICHELLE SCHMIDT
In case you hadn’t heard yet, Pullman is now a legitimate metropolis: It has its own dog park.
The 2-acre membership-maintained park opened at the Whitman County Humane Society last week and features two play areas, one for larger dogs and another for smaller dogs. There are dog waste stations, benches and a drinking fountain that also has a spigot further down the pipe to allow for an easy fill of the water bowl. The grand opening, complete with treats and free play, is Saturday.
Yes, Pooch Park is the only public place in Pullman where Fido can run free, but a dog park is more than just that, explains Lauren Young, Pooch Park committee member.
“This is a social outlet as well,” Young said. And she’s not talking about the owners. She’s talking about the dogs.
“It’s good for my dog to play with other dogs,” she said. Dogs that aren’t used to interacting with other dogs are more likely to be aggressive, simply because they don’t know how to get along with them.
So Pooch Park is a place for everyone to polish their social skills. No one wants to be “that owner” with “that dog,” so in preparation for the grand opening, Young highlighted basic “petiquette” to follow at this — or any other — dog park.
1. Follow leash protocol
Dogs off a leash and those on a leash don’t mix well. Even dogs that behave perfectly can become aggressive when they’re the only ones stuck on a leash — especially when excited, unleashed dogs run toward them.
Unless you’re going for the “sorry, I can’t handle my dog” image, keep your dog leashed as you walk from your car to the park, then remove the leash in the tri-gate area through the first security gate.
2. Dog parks are for dogs … not kids.
Sure, lots of kids love dogs and lots of dogs love kids. But there are enough exceptions that the Pooch Park committee decided to keep this park from becoming a petting zoo involving frightened animals and wounded children. Kids under the age of 8 are not allowed at the Pooch Park.
3. The dog park is for socializing … but not THAT kind of socializing.
The dog park is a cute place for humans to find a future mate. But it’s not where your dog wants to find theirs. For that reason, no female dogs in heat are allowed at the park and any dogs older than 14 months must be spayed or neutered.
Not only does this prevent unwanted and aggressive behavior, but as Young reminds us, this dog park is a project of the Whitman County Humane Society, an organization aimed at reducing the number of unwanted or homeless pets.
4. Like any play date, stay home if you’re sick.
Just like people, when dogs play and interact, they share whatever germs they’re carrying. If your dog is not well, stay home and get better. And keep your dog up-to-date on vaccinations.
5. Play nice.
You don’t want to own the playground bully. Know what appropriate play looks like so you can avoid being the arrival that clears out the park.
“All dogs play differently, and what may be appropriate play between two labs can easily overwhelm a smaller or more submissive dog,” said Young in an email. She adds that excessive pinning, growling and chasing can be signs of inappropriate play.
According to the ASPCA website, dogs often play-bow, paw at each other and bounce like puppies when they are playing. Their bodies are relaxed and they are likely to switch between games and between roles within them.
Schmidt can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (208) 305-4578.
if you go
WHAT: Pooch Park grand opening
WHEN: 10:30 a.m. Saturday
WHERE: Whitman County Humane Society’s Pooch Park, 1340 Old Moscow Road, Pullman
ADMISSION: Free. Pooch Park memberships for use after the event are $60 per year or $25 per trimester.