You drive down the gravel path, your dog whimpering with excitement at the idea of what is in store. You pull into an open parking spot and your pup is jumping and drooling with excitement. The dog park. If you’re lucky to have one in our area, you know how your four-legged friend waits all day for their much-deserved playtime.

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 to others.

#1: Clean Up After Your Pup

Pick up after your pet box at park

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. It’s important to bring your own poop bags in case they are out at the park. Keep some in your glove compartment or invest in a bag dispenser that can conveniently fit on your dog’s collar.

#2: Make Sure Your Dog is Vaccinated

small dog receiving shot at vet

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? Dog insurance can help mitigate your out-of-pocket expenses and help keep your animal happy and healthy for their whole life.

#3: Keep Dogs Not Spayed or Neutered Away from Other Pets

Dog walks in a heat park

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 Aggressive Behavior Before Visiting a Dog Park

Aggressive dog behavior at dog park

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: Keep Small Children at Home, Please!

Kid and dog lean on the wall

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: Don’t Bring Bones or Chew Toys

two dogs with frisbees

If you have a dog who loves chewing on toys or bones, remember to leave them at home before visiting the dog park. Not only will they get dirty, lost, or broken, but other dogs may attempt to “borrow” their toys/bones which could lead to aggressive behavior. These items are best left in the safety of your home. Instead, opt for tennis balls or frisbees.

#7: Keep a Collar or Harness On Your Pup

Keep dog collar at dog park

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!

Enroll In Pet Insurance Before Heading to the Dog Park

Dog parks are usually safe spaces for dogs and people to come together; however, it is always possible to encounter an aggressive dog or unfamiliar terrain while exploring. Not to mention, other dogs who don’t know good, dog park etiquette and aren’t vaccinated. Before heading to your local doggy watering hole, enroll in pet insurance from Prudent Pet that always has your back. Dog insurance can help cover expensive vet bills that could arise from accidents or illnesses. At Prudent Pet, we offer coverage for any breed or age. If you like to travel around to different dog parks, you can have peace of mind. When you enroll with Prudent Pet, you can enjoy reimbursement for any vet, specialist, or emergency room in the U.S.

So what are you waiting for? Click here to get a FREE quote or give our insurance agents a call at 888.820.7739. Prudent Pet is here, offering exceptional coverage for extraordinary customers.