The Do’s and Don’ts of Dog Park Etiquette

dog park etiquette

As the temperatures rise, dog parks grow crowded. This is a wonderful thing – as long as dog owners understand dog park etiquette.

For our four-legged family members, a trip to the dog park is the height of entertainment. We also get a kick out of seeing our fur babies enjoying their freedom and making new puppy pals. That is, until someone does something that sours the whole experience – such as let their dog intimidate your dog.

Thankfully, most dog owners want the experience of visiting a dog park to go well for everyone. Often when something happens that shouldn’t, it is simply because dog owners aren’t aware of dog park etiquette. We’re here to remedy that situation.

Obey the Park Rules

The number one rule of dog park etiquette is to follow the park’s rules. In Dallas, we are fortunate to have several great dog parks in the area, and Dallas Parks and Recreation has defined clear Dog Park Rules for guests to follow. These rules are put in place to protect dogs and humans. Therefore, the biggest breach of dog park etiquette is to knowingly disobey these rules.

Mind Your Leash

If you visit an off-leash dog park, you need to keep your dog off his leash. The point of an off-leash dog park is for dogs to enjoy a bit of safe freedom. When they are leashed while other dogs are running free, it can trigger a negative response. Plus, dog leashes are massive tripping hazards in off-leash dog parks.

Don’t Bring Aggressive Dogs to the Dog Park

Some dog owners mistakenly believe they should take their aggressive dogs to a dog park to properly socialize them. Wrong! No one wants to risk their dog getting hurt (or themselves) by an aggressive dog at a dog park. Your dog won’t make any friends, and neither will you.

Scoop the Poop

One of the dog park etiquette fundamentals is to scoop the poop. Don’t be that person who visits a dog park, lets their dog poop, and leaves the poop behind for someone else to clean up (or worse, another dog to eat).

Dogs in Heat Should Stay Home

Unless you want to cause a whole lot of commotion, leave your dog in heat at home. Save the dog park for another day.

Keep Food Outside the Gates

As tempted as you may be to give your dog a treat in the dog park, refrain! Dogs have a great sense of smell, so if you pull out food in the dog park, you will get some unwanted attention. This includes human food, too.

One more food note – you should not give another dog food. You don’t know if the dog has a food allergy or if his owners have him on a special diet.

Watch Out for Little Kids

Toddlers and dog parks are not a good mix. Many dogs are scared of little kids, and their behavior may come off as aggressive to children. Likewise, children may be too rough for the dogs. Moreover, bigger dogs may accidentally knock little ones over while they are enjoying their unleashed freedom.

Dogs Should Always Have a Collar

Most dog parks are fenced, but that doesn’t mean dogs always stay inside the fenced enclosure. If your dog is an escape artist, it is important to always have them in a collar with updated contact information.

Ask Permission Before Petting or Playing

Dog lovers have to practice some restraint when visiting a dog park. As much as you want to pet a cute dog, proper dog park etiquette requires asking for permission. Similarly, if your dog seems drawn to another dog, it is polite to ask the owner if the two pups can play together.

Pack a Doggy Bag

Parents of little ones never leave home without a diaper bag. Put this into practice when going on ventures with your four-legged family member, too. Pack a doggy bag with poop bags, a portable water bottle and dish, a towel, sealed treats, and a toy.

You may be tempted to forego the water, but shared water dishes in dog parks are not the safest. The American Kennel Club (AKC) explains, “Communal water bowls allow dogs to share parasites, bacteria, and viruses.”

Puppies Aren’t Allowed

As much as you want to show off your new fur baby, the dog park is not a safe place for puppies. Moreover, they are not allowed at most dog parks because they have not received their vaccinations.

Similarly, don’t take your older dog to the dog park if he isn’t up to date with his vaccinations. AKC suggests that dogs spending time in dog parks be vaccinated for bordetella, leptospirosis, and canine influenza. They should also be treated with flea, tick, and heartworm.

Don’t Spread Germs

If your dog is sick, stay out of the dog park. Dog illnesses–such as kennel cough– spread easily amongst dogs in these types of environments.  

Master Basic Obedience Commands First

The dog park is not the place to teach your dog basic commands. Instead, proper dog park etiquette suggests only taking your dog to the park once she has mastered basic obedience commands. Understanding and following these commands will help keep them safe.

Say No to Mounting

Many dog owners are not thrilled to see a dog they don’t know mounting their sweet innocent pup. If your dog is doing the mounting, find a way to put a stop to it.

Be a Watchful, Mindful Dog Parent

Dog park etiquette begins and ends with you. As their owner, you are the one responsible for your dog’s behavior in the dog park. This means you need to watch what your dog is doing (put down the phone) and pay attention to his behavior. Intervene when necessary and know when it is time to say goodbye.

If you manage a local dog park, contact Super Scoopers to learn more about our commercial scooping services and pet waste station installation and maintenance.