Dog Park Etiquette


Everyone loves taking their dog to the dog park. Watching the dogs run and play really brings out the joy that we have for our animals. The exercise and socialization impacts the dogs as well, improving the behavior and their general attitudes. However, so many dogs and owners coming together in this public forum requires a certain form or etiquette. A set of do’s and don’ts that everyone needs to go by so that everyone can have a fun and safe time.

First and foremost, never bring your dog to the dog park if they are sick or have not been vaccinated.

Any communal area is a hot spot for illness to spread, and that goes for our K9 counterparts as well. All sorts of bodily fluids get mixed and tossed around as the dogs play. It is up to you to make sure your dog is protected and up to date on his shots. It is also up to you to make sure you don’t take a chance on getting other dogs sick if your pupper is under the weather. It is good practice to bring your dog a bowl and water, and prevent them from drinking from the public bowls and fountains, to help lower the chance of illness.

Clean up after your dog.

This should be common sense, but I have seen so many dog owners just watch their dogs drop trowel and sprint off and never move a muscle. Noone wants to be covered in poo because their dog ran through your dogs poop and then jumped on them. Please clean up behind your dog. If you don’t have a poop bag, I am sure everyone else there does, just ask.

Leave other people’s dogs be

Very few instances I can think of where I would call down someone else’s dog, and that is pretty much to prevent escape or injury. If another dog is not playing nice or is behaving badly, leave it to their owners to deal with. If needed, call your dog to you and get them out of the situation. If further attention is required, tell the owner about the issue and ask them to correct it. It is not your place to correct someone else’s dog.

Don’t bring treats to a dog park

You know how in school, your teacher would always say “Well did you bring enough for everybody?” One of the most common causes for aggression in dogs is food. They may not have an issue on a normal basis, but when you pull out a treat and all the other dogs come running, your pooch may behave differently towards his new competition.

Know the difference between play and aggression, especially in large dogs

This is a big one for me. My dog is rather large and when she is playing with a group of other large dogs it sounds like they are killing a gazelle. But of course, it is normal play behavior. I have seen many dog owners who get frustrated either at their own dog, or someone else’s, for displaying signs they took as aggressive, when it was completely benign.

The end result for everyone to have a safe and enjoyable time. Follow these rules and enjoy your K9 friend to the fullest. Don’t forget to be social and talk to the other owners if they are sitting in a group. I have learned so much from sitting at a table at the park talking with other owners. Dog people always seem to be talkers in my opinion, so jump in there and have a good time as well.

Have any other etiquette tips or pet peeves from the dog park? Comment below and let us know!