For most dog owners, going to the dog park is a fun way to let your dog get exercise while socializing with other dogs. In order to keep the dog park fun for all visitors, we all need to be mindful of proper dog park etiquette when we visit.
Once you and your dog get to the dog park, it may be tempting to just stand back and watch all the activity while your dog runs around. Everybody will have a much more rewarding time if you observe some basic etiquette for visiting a dog park.
Many of the suggestions below are more common sense than anything, but they should be heeded. These may not be official dog park rules, but following this etiquette will make the dog park / dog run a better place for all who visit.
- Never, ever, leave your dog unattended and always keep your attention on your dog.
- Keep use of mobile phones to a minimum so that your focus can always remain on your dog.
- Always clean up after your dog. Most parks have poopbags, so use them, or bring your own! This is a primary reason that dog parks get complaints, so pay attention and pick up the poop.
- If you see trash, debris, or anything else that’s out of place, pick it up or put it back so none of the dogs get injured.
- Make sure your dog is up-to-date on all vaccinations and has a valid dog license.
- Don’t bring puppies under 4 months to a dog park. They won’t have had all the necessary inoculations that allow them to play safely with other animals.
- Don’t bring a female dog in season into the park.
- Spayed/neutered animals are recommended.
- Before coming to the dog park, as your veterinarian if your dog is healthy enough to play.
- Don’t bring more than two or maybe three dogs. It subjects parks to overuse, and if they’re not your dogs, you may not have full control over them. It’s hard enough for many people to watch one dog.
- Keep your dog on-leash until you get to the 'off-leash' area. This is not just respectful to other park users, it’s much safer for your dog.
- Close all doors to the dog park or dog run after entering or exiting.
- If your dog becomes unruly or plays rough, leash him and leave immediately.
- If you must bring children to a dog park, supervise them closely.
- Don’t smoke or eat while at the dog park. Cigarette butts and food wrappers are tempting treats to dogs, but bad for them.
- Don’t scold or touch someone else’s dog. You wouldn’t want them to do that to your dog.
- Don't give treats to other dogs - certainly without first asking owners permission - dogs may be allergic to certain foods.
- If it seems like a group of dogs are bullying another dog, make sure your dog isn’t participating and encourage other owners to do the same.
- Be friendly with other dog owners. It’s more enjoyable if everyone is nice to each other.
- Always observe all of the rules posted at your local dog park. Each town has its own set of regulations: please follow them.
Dog parks provide a fantastic opportunity for off-leash play when owners are alert and conscientious. Few things can happily tire out your dog like a fellow canine playmate. With a few precautions, your dog can play, play, play at the dog park with the only telltale signs being a sleepy, dirty, happy doggie.
There are a number of Dog Park Finders depending on which country you live in. Here are a few suggestions to help you look in your area.
Dog Park (USA) DogPark.com was created to help dog owners find local dog parks in their city or neighborhood. Whether you just moved to a new city, are on vacation with your dog, or just wish to find another great place to take your dog to exercise and socialize, DogPark.com can help you find a local dog park.
Dog Park Finder is an app you can download if you live in the USA. It’s a comprehensive list off-leash areas and on-leash dog walks. The information comes from DogGoes.com, a site that reviews pet-friendly and pet-unfriendly places.
Doggo lists Dog Friendly Beaches & Dog Parks across Australia. Users can also post their own suggestions for new places and comment on existing ones.
Walkees for everything dog friendly in the UK. For every walk that a member adds to Walkiees, they will donate £2 to a dog charity. The more walks that get added, the more money they donate. Add your walk today, and you will have helped dogs less fortunate than or own.