6 Tips For Dog Park Etiquette

It’s not all chasing balls and sniffing butts at the dog park.

The dog park can be an essential part of your dog’s socialization and exercise routine. That being said, dog parks can be a bit of a nightmare, especially when another dog or pet parent isn’t prepared for the excitement and doesn’t play well with others. To avoid trouble and to ensure your pooch as a safe and carefree time, please keep these tips in mind when you’re visiting your local dog park:

Follow the rules

Hey, they’re there for a reason—to make sure everyone has a safe and enjoyable time. The rules are usually posted at the entrance of the park, and every dog park has its own set. If your community has a dog park, it’s in your best interest to follow them, as well as alert others to the proper procedures. Remember that these facilities are for everyone to take advantage of. You may find that some parks cater to smaller dogs while others are strictly for larger breeds (most public dog parks are a free-for-all). You are responsible for your dog’s behavior and actions while in the park… and that includes cleaning up after his bathroom breaks!

Keep Your Eyes on Your Dog

Put the cell phone down and watch what your dog is doing. There’s nothing wrong with chatting with other pet parents, and it’s awesome to make new human friends while your pooch is getting to know other dogs. But it only takes a second for a situation to get out of control. By keeping a close eye on your dog, you can put a stop to potentially dangerous situations before they happen or keep them under control. It doesn’t matter which dog started the kerfuffle—this falls under the “Pet Parent Responsibly” rules while you’re in the park.

Vaccinate Your Dog

Make sure that your dog has all of his vaccinations up to date before you visit the dog park. There are lots of diseases, bugs and parasites your dog can up home with. And even if vaccinations don’t cover your dog 100%, there’s a better chance that your pooch that won’t have to deal with stomach issues, nasty pasts or a hacking cough.

Dog Obedience

Sure, your dog comes to you when you call—but that’s when you’re at home or it’s just the two of you. Add a bunch of happy dogs into the mix, and you’re pup will be pretending he doesn’t even know you! If you’re unsure how your dog will react to voice commands, go to the dog park during off-peak hours. You’ll be able to practice with distractions—be sure to offer rewards when he does respond. After you start to see consistent progress, slowly start to bring him to the park when you know it will be busier.

Energy of the Dog Park

When you walk into a dog park, be aware of the energy in the dog park. Are the dogs high strung and out-of-control, or are the humans not paying attention and talking amongst themselves (or worse… both)? It’s time to find another dog park to play in. Your dog will have more fun if the other dogs are the same size as him and display a happy, calm demeanor. For the most part, they should listen to their moms and dads when they call – just like your dog does!

Body Language

Dogs often get into playful wrestling matches, and that’s normal behavior. But, you need to watch for signs that it may turn aggressive. When a dog has another dog pinned for longer than five seconds, it’s time to put a stop to the game. Calmly move in and separate them from each other. Or how about it your dog is hiding under a picnic table with his tail is under is legs? It means that he doesn’t want to be there anymore—time to call it a day and go home. Don’t force him to play with the other dogs if he doesn’t want to.

Meet the Author: Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic is the Editor of Petguide.com, the flagship site to over 70 different pet communities, which offers pet parents a one-stop-info-shop for all things dog and cat related. Amy's been with PetGuide since the beginning, guided by the wisdom of her Shih Tzu mix and furry roommate, Oscar. Together, this pet power couple has their paw on the pulse of the pet industry, sniffing out trends, advice, news, tasty treat recipes and other tail-wagging stories.

Pros and Cons of Hiring a Groomer vs DIY
7 Tips for Managing a Territorial Dog