7 Tips: How to not be THAT pet parent ūüĎÄ

7 Tips: How to not be THAT pet parent ūüĎÄ

Fun fact: 60%¬†of Central Texans have pets in their household (we take the bronze medalūü•Č¬†nationwide in pets¬†per household).

And, with so many pups in this town, we all gotta do our part to ensure our own pets are upstanding four-legged citizens, keeping our city clean and trails clear for our neighbors.

Here are a 7 ways to keep your pet safe, healthy, and happy in the Hill County:

    It's the leash you could do...

    Having spacious, open parks like Zilker and beautiful, scenic spots like Auditorium Shores make Austin the perfect destination for pet parents.

    While your doggo might be the friendliest pup around, it's important to know the difference in on-leash and off-leash parks in your area and respect local leash laws for a variety of reasons. 

    Dog walking by owner with leash

    On-Leash Parks

    There are two big reasons for parks and public areas for being on-leash: safety and the environment.


    All dogs are different. This means all dogs react differently. It's important to have safe, protected, and comfortable spaces for dogs who aren't as social, don't have a solid recall or aren't in the mood for playing.

    Having your pet on a leash in these areas creates a safe environment for people and pets. Adults get to relax while their kids run around and dogs can hang out without any added interruptions. 


    The Leave No Trace Campaign is a city initiative to protect and enjoy our outdoors responsibly, i.e. clean up after yourself. On-leash park policies are in place to do just that.

    With your dog leashed, it's easier to pick up after your pup and dispose of dog poo bags in the proper way: bagged and in the trash!

    Also, these parks could have protected wildlife. Leashing your dog helps to not disturb the flora and fauna that frolic nearby. 

    When not in a specified off-leash area, the Austin leash ordinance requires dogs to be on a leash no longer than 6 feet on all City land. The maximum fine for not following this ordinance is five hundred doll hairs ($500). 

    Dogs having fun at the dog park

    Off-Leash Parks

    Check out this interactive map for off-leash parks in Austin. 

    These areas are large, outdoor spaces for dogs to run around, play, and socialize to their hearts desire. Parks like these have numerous waste stations, sometimes bark rangers, and a fence or natural barrier to corral dogs into a general area. 

    Off-leash parks are great for non-reactive dogs who are people-friendly and play well with others. It's very important to have a good recall for your dog when visiting any off-leash park. 

    Learn more about Austin Dog Parks & Park Conduct here.

    Do you recall?

    Recalling is the act of calling your dog and always expecting them to respond and return. It is one of the most important things to teach your pup.

    Having good recall is an essential tool in pet ownership, especially at off-leash areas and parks. It ensures that if your pup goes too far or if there is a dangerous situation, your dog will return when called back. 

    Dog training with treats on how to recall

    How to train and practice recalling

    American Kennel Club recommends making training a game for your dog!

    Start your training in a slow, low-distraction environment, like inside your house.

    First, show your dog a toy or a treat, praise them as they are coming to you, then reward them.

    After a few repetitions, whenever your dog looks at you and starts to move towards you, add in your chosen verbal cue (come, here, etc.). Make sure to only add in the cue when you are confident your dog is moving towards you.

    You can slowly up the ante by asking your dog to come before showing them the treat.

    But, be sure to reward with a high-value treat like these chicken bites, when they get to you. Also, try slowly adding distance within your low-distraction environment.

    With proper teaching, your pup will be a recall pro!

    Scoop tha ūüí©

    Cleaning up dog poop in the park

    I'm sure you hear enough about this topic in your NextDoor feed. But, properly disposing of pet waste is Pet Parenting 101: don't leave your pet's poo in the park or a neighbor's yard, and definitely don't bag it up and leave it on the trail. 

    Always pack your your biodegradable poo bags!

    While our baggies are biodegradable, they are not to be thrown back into the woods. The great outdoors should look like the great outdoors, not your pup's personal litter box. 

    Always pick up after your doggo by scooping and disposing of their poo bag properly. If there isn't a dog waste receptacle near, dispose of them in your own landfill trash can. 

    Did you know it's a City Ordnance¬†to pick up after your pet?¬†With up to a $500 fine ūüė≥

    Table Manners

    Dog at Restaurant on Patio

    Austin is a pet-friendly city! And, many restaurants allow dogs inside and out on the patio. But just like people, dogs need to learn table manners. Here are some tips from our crew for your next outing:

    Feed them beforehand

    Your pet will likely be surrounded by food. If they are food motivated, this can be a challenge. Make sure you give them a good meal before heading out so their temptation is lessened.

    Keep your pet leashed and at your side

    Just like on-leash dog parks, this rule is all about safety. Other dogs might not be as friendly, staff might trip over your pet, and your dog could get into something they are not supposed to. Keep them locked by your side for their safety.

    Bring high-value treats

    To keep their attention on you and reward them for good behavior bring high value treats! At some bars, like Yard Bar, you can order treats and food just for your pup.

    No treats? Bring their favorite toy. This will keep them busy and entertained.

    Travel water bowl

    Many restaurants might have water bowls available for you but it is good practice to bring one with you just in case. 

    Respect boundaries

    Girl walking dog down the sideway and road

    Who doesn't love a good walk? Whether you and your dog are walking the neighborhood or local trail, it's important to respect leash laws, other walkers, and their pups. 

    Even if your dog is friendly, do not let them approach other dogs without the consent of the owner. There could be many reasons why pet owners don't want you to approach them, but leash aggression is a common problem.

    Leash aggression is when a dog becomes territorial or overly excited when encountering another dog while on a lead. However, this same dog could be perfectly fine at an off-leash dog park.  

    Think about it: if you were restrained and someone ran right up to your face, wouldn't you feel startled and uneasy? Dogs feel the same way!

    Take social cues: if the owner is prompting or pulling their dog in the opposite direction, pausing for you to pass, or the dog is barking or lunging, give them some space. Walk around them or safely cross the road to give them enough room to breathe. 

    Shots, shots, shots, everybody!

    Staying up to date on your pet's vaccinations not only protects your pet, but any other that might come in contact with your dog or cat. 

    Here are some core vaccines that you should get annually for dogs and cats:

    Dog Vaccinations
    Rabies (ask your vet for the 3-year dose)
    DHPP (distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, hepatitis)
    Parvovirus (every 3 years)
    Cat Vaccinations
    (ask your vet for the 3 year dose)
    Feline Distemper 
    (every 3 years)
    Feline Herpesvirus (every 3 years)
    (every 3 years)
    (every 3 years)

    It is important to note there are other vaccinations that are not categorized as a "core vaccine". But, other vaccines may be administered based on your pet's lifestyle. For example, the Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) vaccine is administered to kittens. However, this vaccine should only be kept up to date if your cat ventures outside. 

    For a full list of core vaccinations and non-core vaccinations, click here. 

    Tag, you're it!

    Having an ID tag is essential to having a pet! 

    First, double-check that your pet's collar is appropriately snug. You should be able to fit no more than two fingers snugly under your pet's collar. 

    Next, make sure that their tags are legible and up-to-date, including your rabies tag.

    And if you haven't already, get your pet microchipped. If in a worst-case scenario your pet breaks free from your home or yard, a microchip is the best way to getting your pet back to you. 

    Don't have a microchip? Here is a list of vet clinics in Austin. Specifically, Emancipet is a great option for quick microchipping.

    Girl hugging Dogs with Collars and ID Tags

    Need more pet advice? 

    Tomlinson's is your go-to pet supply store for natural, healthy pet products in Austin and the Central Texas region. Let us help prepare you and your home for your pet(s). 

    Visit our shop full of products sold through team members trained in animal nutrition. Pass by our stores with your adorable pet for some treat samples and loving ear rubs.

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