Going to the dog park in your pet-friendly city is a great way to socialize your pup, and let them get out all their doggie energy. It’s also a fantastic place to meet other dog owners, and on sunny days, it offers a relaxing way to spend time outside, without being tethered to a leash. However, to keep your local dog park safe and fun for everyone, it’s imperative to follow dog park rules and etiquette. To new dog owners and park visitors, we’ve put together eight tips for success, so you and your dog can enjoy the park while being courteous of others and the space.
#1: Clean Up After Your Pup
This is a major tenant of most dog park requirements. With all the play going on, your pup is very likely to need to use the bathroom at some point. You must do your job to help keep the park clean, either by using bags provided by the park, or your own doggie bags to clean up after your animal.
#2: Make Sure Your Dog is Vaccinated
By law, all dogs are required to have a yearly rabies vaccine. Dog parks may also require additional vaccines , such as Bordetella, Lyme, and canine influenza, to help halt the spread of dog park diseases. Check with your local park and your veterinarian to see what vaccines you should be getting, before heading out with your pup. Are you worried about the cost of vaccinations? Pet insurance can help mitigate your out-of-pocket expenses and help keep your animal happy and healthy for their whole life.
#3: Leave Dogs in Heat and Unneutered Males at Home
Female dogs in heat can cause inappropriate dog park behavior, especially if there are unneutered males at the park. Generally, unneutered males are not allowed at dog parks, but you cannot guarantee that other dog owners will be aware of or respect this rule. If an unneutered male scents your female pup, they will become aggressive due to their instinct to mate, which could end in dog park fights, or leave you with a litter of puppies a few months later!
#4: Curb Dog Park Aggressive Behavior
Sometimes, dogs get over-excited at the park and can exhibit dog park behavior problems such as resource guarding, rough play, or even outright aggression. As a responsible dog owner, you need to be aware of your dog’s behavior at the dog park, and remove them from any situation that is getting heated. If you cannot control your dog’s behavior at the dog park off-leash, the best thing to do is to leash your dog and leave for the day. Come back when your pup is ready to play nice!
#5: No Kids, Please!
There are two main reasons not to bring your small children to the dog park. First, not all dogs have been around kids, or play well with them. While dog parks require all doggie visitors to be pup-friendly and get along with adults, there usually aren’t requirements regarding children. The other reason to keep your kids at home is for their wellbeing. Kids are fun to chase and play with for dogs, but if your child is fearful, they may become more scared by the overwhelming amount of dog energy at the park. It’s best to introduce kids to dogs one-on-one in a familiar, controlled environment.
#6: Clean Up After Yourself
Just like your pup, cleaning up after yourself is an essential part of dog park etiquette. Whether it’s putting dog park equipment such as balls and other dog park toys away, or taking all your belongings with you, make sure you leave the dog park just the way you found it. Even better, if you see refuse left by others, pick it up and help keep the dog park clean for everybody!
#7: Keep a Collar On
When you’re at the dog park, it’s important to keep your dog’s collar or harness on them. This provides easy identification but is also useful if two dogs are playing roughly or get into a fight. The collar acts as a last resort to help you keep control over your dog, or remove another dog that is misbehaving with your animal.
#8: Don’t Bring Treats or Food
Put simply, food and treats are just too tempting for the pups at the park. Since many dogs have allergies and food sensitivities, there’s no easy way to share with everyone. Plus, the smell of your food goodies may cause some dogs to exhibit inappropriate behavior, such as jumping or lunging. If you are working on training with your dog at the park, we recommend non-treat rewards, such as vocal praise or toys, as long as your dog will share their toys with others.
Now that you’ve learned everything you need to know about dog park rules and etiquette, it’s time to get outside and have fun with your dog! Have a favorite dog park pic? Share it with us on Instagram or Twitter!