Going to the dog park is a great way to get your dog some exercise and give them a chance to meet and play with other dogs! However, it’s important to keep etiquette in mind to make sure the experience is safe and positive for everyone (and every dog) at the park.
Dog park etiquette tips
There are some general things to keep in mind when you go to the dog park, regardless of your dog’s size or temperament:
- Always pick up after your dog (and pack doggy bags!) – This should be a no-brainer, but if your pet poops, you need to pick it up. If left on the ground, someone may accidentally step in it or a curious dog might get too nosy. Typically, dog parks provide bags to pick up after your dog, but in the event that they do not, make sure to bring your own.
- Don’t bring a puppy less than 12 weeks old or unvaccinated dogs – Dog parks are a social setting, and that can mean lots of new germs. If your puppy is very young or is not vaccinated, they can pick up new illnesses from other dogs at the park.
- Don’t bring aggressive dogs or dogs that do not socialize well with others – If your dog does not play well with others, do not take them to the dog park. It can be hard to control your dog when there are many around, so avoid any issues by finding a private outdoor area for your dog to play.
- Step in if your dog is playing too aggressively – Some dogs, especially larger breeds, can play too roughly with other dogs. Be prepared to step in and control your dog so that other dogs don’t get hurt and other owners don’t become worried.
- Remove prong collars before allowing your dog to play – Often, dogs will play by biting or pawing near the neck. Leaving a hard metal prong collar or harness on can lead to broken teeth and unnecessary injury. Before allowing your dog off-leash, remove any pronged collars.
- Exercise your dog before going to the dog park – This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s best to have your dog get some exercise before they get to the dog park. Dogs with too much pent-up energy can be easily overwhelmed and overstimulated when they get to the dog park and are more difficult to control.
- Keep your leash on you at all times – You never know when you’ll have to step in to control a dog, so keep your leash at hand.
- Don’t bring your dog’s favorite toy – Although your dog may want to play with their favorite new ball, frisbee, or chew toy, if there are many other dogs at the park they’ll likely want to play too. Bring a toy that your dog will not be too territorial over and that you wouldn’t mind losing – you may not get it back!
- Don’t spend too much time on your phone or chatting with other owners – While you can certainly check your phone and socialize with the other people at the park, it’s important to keep a watchful eye on your dog in case they get into a situation that becomes too aggressive.
- Leave the food at home – Keep snacks and other food out of the dog park. Other dogs may smell the food and become aggressive if they want some, too. Reward your dog with verbal praise or physical touch and leave dog treats in the car for afterward.
- Be careful bringing young children – If you have young children, a dog park with lots of large, energetic dogs might not be the best place for them. Larger dogs can knock children over or accidentally hurt them.
With these tips, your trip to the dog park should be fun and safe for everyone. Remember to always keep a lookout and be ready to step in if a dog starts behaving inappropriately.