Dog Park Etiquette: How You and Your Best Friend Can Play Well with Others

After a long cold winter, lots of dogs and their owners have cabin fever and are eager to get to the dog park for some springtime play. Here are some basic rules of good dog park behavior that every good dog and owner should know.

Be prepared before you go

Make sure a few simple things have been taken care of before heading out. Your dog should be spayed or neutered and all shots should be up to date. Double check that your dog’s collar is secure and tag information is current, in case he gets loose. Your dog should also know at least a few basic commands, and know to come when you call.

Know the Rules

Different dog parks have different rules and regulations, depending on the situation. Learn and follow the rules of each dog park you visit, such as when and where your dog can be off-leash, how many dogs are allowed per person, and if young puppies (and young children!) are allowed.

Clean up after your dog

Bring some baggies for poop clean up, in case there aren’t any bags or waste containers there. You can also share them with other people who didn’t bring their own. Fill in any holes your dog might dig in the park…some places require this, but it’s good manners anyway.

Bring water, not food

Even though many dog parks have water fountains, it’s a good idea to bring some fresh water and a collapsible bowl for your dog, just in case. But don’t bring food or treats, as they could lead to aggression or fights among the dogs, and leave a mess if not picked up.

Mind your manners

Keep an eye on your dog at all times and avoid distractions like texting and talking on the phone. It’s also a good idea not to smoke or eat while at the dog park. Don’t touch or yell at someone else’s dog that’s engaging in bad behavior. You can politely bring it to the owner’s attention.

Mind your dog’s manners

Dogs that are overly aggressive or fearful with unfamiliar humans or other dogs are not the best candidates for the dog park. Ideally, your dog should be friendly and outgoing. It’s best to remove your dog if he is engaging in annoying behavior like bullying, mounting, or excessing barking.

...And finally, make sure you have cooler clothes than all the other dog park parents!



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  • Aaron Seminoff
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