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A Quick Guide to L.A. Dog Park Etiquette

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One of the great benefits of Los Angeles weather to man and beast is the year round use of Dog parks. As a playground for hounds and a social gathering hot spot for owners, dog parks provide an enjoyable, mostly incident free outing at any given time of day. The odds are there is one near you that hopefully is not being tested for radiation like the one in Brentwood.

However like any community there are occasional problems and repeat offenders who screw up or "Rumsfeld" it for everyone (I hope that catches on so I can make the T-Shirts). As a frequent dog walker of my best friends Lab Tiki and her smallish German Shepherd mixSven Hoek, I have witnessed my share of mishaps, usually involving Sven.

I should point out here before I go on that Sven is not your average Dog. Oh, how I wish he were. According to people in the know Sven is a male Dog that gives off an unusually strong scent that other male dogs confusedly respond to in a most sexually frenzied manner. When he’s shaved which he is a good deal of the year, the problem stops, but in the winter, well that’s another story.

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Wholly Sven can have the effect of turning a normally pastoral stroll in the park into a disco throbbing mid 70’s bathhouse orgy minus the breath mints. The one amusing aspect however is watching pumped up muscle guys look on with dismay and confusion, as their equally buffed up male dogs make the not so subtle moves on Sven. Looks of bewilderment and reassessment about which side of the bowl their hounds walk on usually follows. It’s all good Günter, Fido is just exploring and I’m sure he will still spot you in your home gym later on as usual.

The following are some observations, and suggestions designed to provide as Disneyfied a Dog park experience as possible:

Pay Attention. Seems simple enough but my last trip to the park nearly ended with me being violated by a pitbull mix while his owner decided to crack the books on a nearby bench. His Dog was exceedingly aggressive and I had to carry Sven above my head to protect him. Much to my dismay this critter was pretty all right with testing the limits of inter species relations or, if you prefer, the love that dare not bark its name. Soon after he gave up reaching Sven he gripped my sides, and I felt the nature of his pursuit shift towards me in a most alarming way.

What followed was a very rude kind of sideways conga line with me, buttocks now tightly clenched holding a kicking Sven Hoek above my shoulders as I yelled and tried to shift away. A horrified onlooker pointed to the owner who lazily sauntered over and scolded his oversexed canine. If it weren't for the fact that I find her and her ever present vintage Chanel suit equally disturbing I would have surely called Gloria Alred.

Clean Up. Another basic or so you would think. I am referring mostly to the owners of larger dogs whose Labrador land mines and Shepherd mix pies litter the landscape. In almost all dog parks, there is a dispenser where you can use a plastic baggie to scoop away doggie refuse. Rest assured it's not there so you can skip over to the farmers market later with baggies in hand to fill up with 14 dollar organic grapes.

Don't be a Dog park Mac-Daddy. Yes, I have found it to be true that there is a good number of attractive single females walking their pooches at Dog parks. The one in El Segundo used to be a mini pick up joint when I went there. Still, don't go overtly trolling for dates Boys, the rule of beautiful women getting hit on everywhere to the point of numbness also applies here with the exception that here she can also sick a Doberman Pincher on your ass. As far as advice for ladies well, just watch the male Dogs. Same thing, just add an opposable thumb and college loans to the mix.

Refrain from being an amateur Behavioral Scientist. If your Dog has a history of being bat shit crazy or inhaling smaller animals in the past, don't bring him to the dog park unleashed on the hunch that you have watched enough episodes of the Dog Whisperer to stem the evil tide. Also don't bring your big Dog to the small Dog park because forcibly removing a Bichon Freeze from Brutus mouth is one of those awkward moments in life that's very hard to comeback from.

Have to go, walkies you know.

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