As of 1/24/21, SWCDP has 698 member households and 898 member dogs. Ever changing stats, 5+ more in the queue as blog is published. This translates into well over 1,000 humans in our database and email distribution – and that number, too, grows weekly. We are always excited to meet new members! Welcome all.
A reminder to all members – terms in accepting your membership is that you read SWCDP rules & City required waiver – and by signing both you agreed to abide by those requirements. The agreement also signifies that every member understands that SWCDP has no official supervisor on site and every member agrees to use the dog park at their own risk.
This, of course, applies to everyone, new and returning members. Assuming you are following SWCDP rules – and thank you for that – we ask you to help us to remind others regarding rules, protocols and general dog park etiquette.
As needed, we ask returning members with SWCDP experience to help our new members get acclimated to life on the playground. We have reached the tipping point for having more new members than returning members. Partly due to normal attrition, aging out, relocations, etc – but mostly due to our huge membership growth. We have had a large uptick in new members this year – and – we had a significant uptick last year, too. So even some of our returning members this season may still be fairly new, depending on what time of year they joined last season.
Current Household Stats: New Households: 348 Returning Households: 350
To be clear – we are not suggesting that rule breaking is caused solely by new members – we already know the sources of issues comes from both member groups. What we are suggesting is that those members who are most familiar with all things SWCDP reach out and help members who need guidance. For SWCDP to run smoothly and safely requires all hands on deck – everyone needs to be going in the same direction.
Sampling of rules that continue to be broken or at the very least “stretched” beyond what is appropriate SWCDP behavior.
Most Frequent Issues, Ongoing Problems
- Absolutely no non-member dogs – ever! This violation completely breaks down member accountability and safety protocol – eliminates our ability to contact owners in case of a problem, creates an environment in which we have non-vetted animals (no vaccine records) on dog parks grounds and no owner accountability via signed agreements and user fees.
- No Tag No Admittance No Exception
- Honor system for current members to register any new dog in household
- No Food or Alcohol. This includes doggie treats. Do not feed dogs while inside dog park! Some member dogs have resource aggression issues (they don’t like to share their food, or toys); some have allergies or other dietary problems; and more. Just don’t do it! Treat your dog before/after dog park visit. Trust us – your dogs are plenty happy to just be at the park with their pals.
- No Children Under 8 Years Old. This includes babies attached to parent via backpack, harness, etc. This is non-negotiable. Please do not dump the burden of safety on the shoulders of rest of the SWCDP membership.
- Age appropriate children – absolutely no running, waving arms, screaming, teasing dogs, climbing on trees, equipment, etc.
- SWCDP dogs must be non-aggressive – but being “kid-friendly” is not a requirement. Many canine members have little to no experience with children
- Gangway Problems – Greetings Gone Wrong If you know your dog gets over zealous when approaching dogs entering dog park – it is your responsibility to keep your dog out of the greeting zone – play further into the park, create a diversion. Many well intended and high spirited hellos have happened in this space – but often such intensity will overwhelm the arriving dog – and these dynamics will sometimes lead to a fight (and occasional injury). A dog being cornered or piled on to by several excited dogs is not good.
- Remove leash in entry area – co-mingling leashed & unleashed dogs is definite trouble; leashed dog feels trapped and cannot move about freely to be on equal footing with unleashed dogs.
- Arriving dogs deserve same play opportunities – don’t let your dog be a hindrance to good play time for all.
- Keep gates to both Main and Alternate areas SAFE for incoming / outgoing dogs.
- Don’t smother your dog – Don’t ignore your dog – unfortunately, we are experiencing both extremes. Most dogs will work out their differences on their own if given a chance – let your dog be a dog. Peer dogs are the best teachers (in most cases). Dogs learn what is acceptable behavior by watching other dogs and they learn how to read the cues from other dogs . . . however, sometimes it is by trial and error. Your dog will actually learn through the growls and smack downs! Sometimes, dogs may require humans to redirect energy (move your dog out of the negative circumstances or go home for the day). Know your dog. Learn the various dog play styles and dog behavior so you better understand what is happening with the other dogs, too..
- Helicopter Pooch Parents are not helping their canine by stifling their growth – Allow dog to develop confidence naturally.
- Inattentive Pooch Parents are not helping their canine by allowing inappropriate behavior and bad reputation to develop – Don’t let your dog be a jerk.
- Let’s not reward bad behavior. Misbehaving . . . go home for the day . . . loss of dog park privilege is the consequence for bad behavior. Eventually, your dog will learn his play stops every time he does certain things.
- Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Playground dynamics change constantly. And what seemed like acceptable play one minute may become a problem with a different combination of dogs minutes later. It is important that members talk to one another about varying comfort levels and their dog’s preferences and play styles. Humans should stay alert to this and help their pooch find the appropriate play partners. A dog who likes it rough and tumble will not be suited to a dog who just likes to hang out and watch, or play ball instead of wrestle.
- SWCDP has both rough=necks & thrill seekers and gentle-souls & watchers . . . we have room for all.
- Each member is accountable for their dog (s) actions. Do the right thing – always.
- When problems arise – you must be ready to separate the dogs – don’t expect other members to do it for you. Work together immediately to find resolution. If you need to control your animal beyond voice command – this would be the time to leash your dog and face him away from the ruckus while you assess the situation.
- Never hit or kick a dog.
- In fight – go home for the day (all dogs involved) – Any dog whooped up into a frenzied, agitated state needs to go home to settle down.
- Injuries (always check your dog before leaving dog park) – You must exchange contact info with all those involved (as you would in a car accident, etc).
- Get witness contact info, when appropriate, if you plan to submit an incident to SWCDP SAIC (Safety and Incident Committee).
- Follow Alternate Dog Park Usage Guidelines – Check pecking order; small dogs have top priority.
Clarification Regarding Alternate Dog Park Usage
It is not ok to use Alternate as a time-out space when your dog has been in an altercation or other trouble –
go home in those situations. When we refer to “time-out”, we mean if your dog is simply getting overly stimulated, wound up (not fight induced) – and needs a few minutes of quiet time to refocus or
you want to play solo with your dog or one other dog and need a quiet space to do so.
Provided Alternate is not in use or in need of use by those higher up on pecking order –
you may use Alternate until the space is needed for higher ranking needs.
Always ask others of their needs – small dogs, recovering dogs, older or low energy dogs have priority.
- Follow Covid-19 Guidelines – remember social distancing.
WOW – That’s A Lot!
We know – we know . . . SWCDP expects a lot from our members but we hope you will agree that members get a lot in return as well.
We are fortunate to have so much City land for our dogs to socialize and we think SWCDP remains a top notch dog park – ongoing, positive member feedback reinforces this sentiment. But SWCDP is a very robust venue – and a constant challenge to keep everything running smoothly. With so many animals and humans co-existing – all with different experiences, opinions, play styles and attitudes – inevitably, conflicts will arise. If we all follow the same rules we can at least keep the conflicts to a minimum – and resolve the ones we have amicably. So, again, thanks to those helping us keep peace on the playground.
If you want the full scope of details on any of above topics – or simply want to refresh yourself – you can read the entire document by clicking on the link below.
SWCDP Waiver (required by St Louis City Ordinance)
SWCDP User Guide (Dog Play Styles/Dog Language/Behavior on Pages 7-9)
Guidelines for Alternate Dog Park (and Tiny Paws / Big Play). Check out TPBP times on our calendar.
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