An etiquette coach’s four tips to a doggone good time at the dog park

LIFE-1020-Beverly column

Beverly Randolph

Commentary by Beverly Randolph

We prayed to “make the cut” at the recently opened Central Bark Park in Carmel.  Fortunately, we did and it has transformed our lives. Honeybear, our 8 year old Golden Retriever, has found new energy and handsomely gallops around the park.  Pet-parents also get exercise, increased Vitamin D intake and get to make new acquaintances, like their doggie pals. It is my hope the following guidelines will ensure that you, too, have a doggone good, safe time.

  1. Have Fido decline serving on the greeting committee. Like with humans, proper introductions are important. New dogs entering the park can become anxious, overwhelmed and potentially aggressive.  Keep yours away and let newly arrived dogs integrate on their own schedule.
  2. Remove leash before entering. The double-gate system allows for leashes to be removed before entering.  This provides a safer environment for canines and humans alike, by preventing leash aggression incidents.  Your pups won’t dart around the park with their leashes flailing behind.
  3. Keep an eye on your dog at all times. Try not to look down on your phone or book, plop down on a bench, or chat with fellow pet lovers too much. Interact with your best friend and watch your dog’s body language. Signs to remove Fido include ears pulled back, dilation of pupils, and tails tucked.  Do not let dogs “work it out.”
  4. Advanced preparation. Wear clothes that you do not mind getting dirty. Bring a pack of wet wipes for when muddy paws unexpectedly jump. Also, bring your own water bottle and bowls, waste bags and pet-safe bug repellent.

Beverly Randolph, MA, is the founder and director of The Protocol School of Indianapolis and a certified Business Etiquette, Children’s Etiquette and International Protocol Consultant. Beverly lives in Carmel and is an Adjunct Instructor at Marian University teaching business-related courses.  Have any etiquette questions? Email her at


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