1. Monitor your dog. Know where your dog is and what he is doing, and be ready to intervene if a situation amongst the dogs is getting out of hand. Usually, putting your dog on leash for a time out and walking him around the trail on his own until he has calmed down is sufficient. In cases of extreme overexcitement, remove your dog from the park and return another day.
2. Help others by reminding them to monitor if you see that someone is not paying attention when they should be (moments of inattention happen to all of us sometimes).
3. Keep moving, or go to the creek. Long experience at the dog park has taught us that most incidents amongst the dogs occur when a large number of owners have gathered in a stationary group to talk. The dogs mill around close to the owners and find reasons to quarrel. The best behavior occurs when the owners are walking around in smaller groups. Also, when the dogs are playing in the water there is virtually never any quarreling, even if there are a lot of dogs and the owners are sitting around watching the dogs and talking.
4. Give your dog a time out if your dog’s behavior is making another dog owner uncomfortable. This is a matter of courtesy, even if you believe that your dog’s behavior is normal and appropriate.
5. Be very careful about bringing food (either person food or dog treats) to the park. Competition for food can create unwanted incidents. If you must bring dog treats to the park for emergency recalls etc. keep them hidden and airtight so as to minimize its attractiveness to the other dogs. And never feed another person’s dog without express permission.
6. Don’t correct or restrain another person’s dog—instead, ask the owner to take action. Don’t take this upon yourself unless there are emergency circumstances.
7. Clean up. Clean up after your own dog, draw other owners’ attention to their clean up duties if needed, and be a good park citizen by cleaning up poop of unknown origin.
8. Keep your dog leashed in the parking lot. Please, please be careful about this because it is all too easy to back up without seeing a loose dog behind the car.
9. Remember to keep both your Montgomery County dog license and your Lower Merion Township Off-Leash Permit up to date—you need to renew both every calendar year. And of course, follow the Township’s off leash permit rules.
10. West Mill Creek works so well because we are all willing to work out issues courteously through civil dialogue. Keep up the good work folks!