Dog Park Etiquette

Finally, we’re experiencing warm, dry days! It was a long winter and everyone — kids, dogs, puppies and grownups — are itching to get outside. This seems like the perfect time to talk about dog parks.

Dog parks are a great place for dogs and dog lovers. Your dog gets to run around with four-legged friends and you get to hang out with like-minded dog people. To make sure that your visit goes smoothly, follow these basic rules of dog park etiquette.

Follow the Rules. Though each dog park is set up differently, they all have list of rules to ensure everyone enjoys their time at the park. Take the time to read the rules – usually posted at the entrance — and please respect them.

Look Around. Before letting your dog out of the car, look around. Are the dogs getting along? Keep your eyes peeled for the bully—just like a schoolyard, there are always one or two tough guys (or gals) who think it’s fun to terrorize the other kids. A dog park can be unsafe if these poorly socialized dogs are allowed to run free. (continued on next page)

Come Prepared. Most parks have water and poop bags available, but it’s always wise to bring your own supply. Some dogs don’t like to drink out of the communal water bowl, so bring your own water dish, too.

Reinforcements. Bring a supply of food rewards and favorite toys. Offer one whenever your dog returns to you. Your dog may be well behaved at home, but the freedom and fun of a dog park will test his listening skills.

Know When To Go. Some days will be perfect – your dog will meet nice friends, you’ll bond with the other pup parents and your dog will sleep like a log when you get home. Other days, the bullies will be running the park, no one will laugh at your jokes and your dog will throw up in the car. That’s ok. Just leave. And always leave – right away – if any dog (maybe even yours) is being aggressive. While it’s rare, serious dog fights have erupted at dog parks.

For more information, read my article “Know A Good Dog Park?.”