14 Dog Park Etiquette

Dog Park Etiquette
Most dog park etiquette is common sense. A dog park is a place for dogs to have fun and socialize with other pups, but this can only happen if everyone follows the same rules. Keep your dog calm and obedient, and respect the boundaries of other pets and owners (i.e., never feed someone else’s dog!).

1. Pick it Up!

The number one rule of dog park etiquette is to pick up your dog’s waste!

Nobody wants to stand in dog poop, especially when it’s not even from their own dog! Take an ample supply of poop bags with you and dispose of any ‘number twos’ in the designated bins.

2. Doggie Diets

One of the most crucial dog park rules is never to feed somebody else’s dog. Even if a dog bounds up to you off-leash and sits politely while you reward your own dog, remember that it’s never okay to feed somebody else’s pooches!

This is the case for a number of reasons. Firstly, if you start giving dog treats to any dog with a wagging tail, it will encourage bad behavior and begging.

Secondly, you don’t know if that dog is on a diet or has any specific dietary requirements – even if you have typically dog-safe food, your good deed might be putting a pup in danger!

3. No Place for Kids

Try to avoid bringing young children to the dog park – both human and canine! A dog park is a place designed for dog play and to allow them to run around in a safe off-leash area. It’s unsafe for the toddler, who might get knocked down, and it’s also not fair on the dogs!

Try to avoid bringing young puppies as well. Though socialization is important for a dog’s behavior development from only a few months old, bringing an untrained puppy to the local dog park is unfair. When your pup is old enough for its first visit, keep it on leash until it has settled.

4. Bring the Right Kit

Always make sure you bring a leash and collar to the dog park.

Many dog parks are within larger recreation areas, and you’ll have to walk through public spaces to get to the dog area – and no one wants an excited off-leash dog charging through their picnic! It’s also important to be able to restrain your dog if something goes wrong, so come prepared!

5. Toys Toys Toys!

bring toys to dog park
Bring toys to dog park

Dog toys are welcome! Bring balls, chew toys, and anything your good dog might enjoy playing with. And be prepared to share: even dogs with good behavior don’t understand material possessions!

6. Stay Out of It

If a dog fight breaks out, it is recommended that dog owners do not get involved.

If your dog is not one of the fighting parties, get it quickly on a leash and withdraw to a safe distance. If your dog is fighting, try to get it away, but do not put yourself in danger.

7. Approach the Human First

It’s important to approach the pet parents before the pets. If you want to say hi to a dog, or introduce your pup to a new potential friend for a play date, always ask the human.

The dog might be being trained or nervous. For your safety and the dog’s comfort, always check before approaching.

8. Vaccinations, Please

If you are bringing your dog to the dog park, ensure their vaccinations are up to date.

Big dogs, small dogs, male dogs, female dogs – no matter how strong you think your dog’s immune system is, for the safety of everyone: no socializing until the dog is vaccinated!

9. You are there for your Dog

play with your dog
Play and focus on your dog

While at the dog park, keep your focus on the dog! That is why you are there, not to scroll your phone or natter with human friends, both of which can be done later.

Not only is it dangerous to lose track of your furry friend, but it’s also not fair to them: they will have an amazing time if their human is as excited to play with them as they are to be out!

10. Keep Your Eye Out

As per Sniffspot, over 15% of dog owners in the US have reported their dogs being attacked at a public dog park. So, be sure to watch your pet at all times. Even the best-behaved dogs need watching. You never know what might happen, so keep your eye on your pooch!

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11. Hydration Station

Always carry your own water to ensure your dog stays hydrated. It’s a good idea to carry water bowls and a bottle of water and encourage your dog to drink regularly, especially if they are running around!

12. Best Behaviour

Try to keep your dog’s behavior in check. If your dog is showing good manners, being playful but not rough, and not bothering other people, you’re sure to find loads of playmates for your canine companion, but aggressive dogs, or those who can’t be controlled, will be resented by humans and dogs alike!

13. No Sick Dogs

Don’t bring a sick dog to the dog park; they can spread their illness to other pups. Whether they’ve got kennel cough, a stomach problem, or anything in between, if they are sick, stay home!

14. Read the Rules

Most dog parks will have a set of rules to follow. Familiarize yourself with those rules and follow them! They are there to ensure everyone’s safety and enjoyment, so follow them and enjoy your day out!

When should you intervene at a dog park?

Dogs playing sometimes looks rough, but most of the time, it is friendly. You should only intervene if a dog or person looks in real danger of coming to harm.

What are the worst dog park behaviors?

The worst dog park behaviors are:

  • Aggression
  • Disobedience
  • Jumping up at humans
  • Hurting other dogs

What should you do if a dog is bullying your dog?

If a dog is being mean to yours, approach the owner and politely ask them to control their pet.

If they refuse to do so, don’t make a scene – quickly get your dog on leash, withdraw from the situation, and come back at another time when the bad pair is not around.

What should you do if your dog gets into a fight at a dog park?

If your dog gets into a dog fight, there are a number of ways to safely break it up. Try to distract your dog with toys or treats, drawing them away from danger.

If that doesn’t work, making loud noises can distract the dogs long enough to break them up. As a last resort, intervene physically, getting your body between the dogs and pulling yours away.

What should you do if a dog is aggressive at the dog park?

If your dog is aggressive at the dog park, you should quickly remove it from the area. Apologize to other owners and discipline your dog. Sometimes even the best dogs have a grumpy day, so try not to panic if it’s a one-time thing.

However, something might be wrong if your dog is continuously aggressive toward others. In that case, invest in a dog trainer, and don’t return to the dog park until you are confident your pet can behave.

Jack Fairey

Jack is a writer based in west London, England. He is a keen traveler, and has a particular interest in the fascinating differences in etiquette across the world. When not writing, he can be found dreaming up his next trip to far off places.

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