Dog parks are fenced-in areas where canines can roam and play unleashed. While it’s desirable to let your dog play with others in a controlled environment, not every dog – or owner – is suitable for play at the dog park. Below are some tips to make sure your dog is ready to interact with other dogs in an open environment, plus advice on how to make sure you and your dog are following the best etiquette at the dog park.

Socialization

If your dog isn’t socialized to interact with other dogs, then it’s best not to take him or her to the dog park. This includes puppies. Even though dog parks are enclosed areas and owners are present, a small altercation between dogs can quickly grow out of control. Therefore, it’s important to first spend time introducing your dog to other dogs on a leash. Some dogs never become socialized because they are shy or aggressive. So, if you think your dog simply does not get along with other dogs (which is totally okay), it’s best to avoid the dog pack altogether. It’s also important to remember that your dog may not like every dog they meet.

Vaccinations

To help keep your dog and others safe, experts recommend having your dog’s vaccinations up to date before visiting a dog park. Also, be sure your dog is treated for fleas and ticks and is up to date on their heartworm medicine as well. If you have a puppy, make sure you refrain from visiting a dog park until your puppy is fully vaccinated. One expert suggests waiting until your puppy is at least 20 weeks old before taking a trip to the dog park. This is always good etiquette at the dog park

Picking Up After Your Dog

If your dog happens to do his or her business (aka poop) at the dog park, be sure you pick up after them. To ensure you’re always prepared, attach a dog waste bag dispenser to your dog’s leash. This way you’re ready for any mess your dog leaves behind. Most dog parks supply pick-up bags and designated trash cans for you to properly dispose of your dog’s poop. However, not all dog parks do. Picking up after your dog not only keeps the park clean, but it prevents other dogs from eating it. It also prevents other owners from stepping on it. This helps make the dog park a much cleaner space for dogs to play.

If Your Dog Is In Heat

If your dog is in heat, do not bring her to the dog park during the three weeks it lasts. Doing so will make the dog park an unpleasant experience for your dog, other dogs, and their owners.

If Your Dog Is Sick

Even if you’ve been told your dog’s sickness is not contagious, your dog may still feel weak and vulnerable. Before heading back to the dog park, give your dog plenty of time to rest and recover from its sickness. Be sure your dog is 100% recovered before going back to the dog park. Your dog’s immune system could be compromised enough that she could possibly bring home an illness from another sick dog.

Basic Commands

Does your dog respond to your voice commands? If not, it’s important to take the time to train your dog before letting them off the leash at the dog park. Click here for 10 Basic Commands your dog should know if you plan on taking them out in public spaces.

Even if your dog is properly trained to obey your basic commands, it’s important to make sure that your dog will respond amid the distractions of the dog park. Once your dog is off-leash, she must be able to obey you in order to stay out of trouble.

Paying Attention To Your Dog

Dog owners get annoyed when they see other owners not paying attention to their dogs. Chatting casually with other owners present is okay. You should stay off your cell phone while your dog is unleashed. It’s important to show that you are ready to respond in the event of an issue involving your dog

Leave If Your Dog Is Not Behaving

Leaving is not the same as admitting defeat. Even if your dog is normally a good fit at your local dog park, he may be having an off day. And that’s okay! It’s better to leave before he becomes involved in an altercation with another dog. You can always try coming back when there are fewer or different dogs for him to interact with. The other owners will appreciate your willingness to leave if things aren’t going well for your dog.

Leave Food & Favorite Toys at Home

Because dogs are naturally territorial, you don’t want to introduce items from home into the dog park. This rule especially goes for food, treats, and toys as dogs are particularly territorial over these items. Introducing your dog’s favorite item to the rest of the dogs at the dog park could confuse your dog and cause her to grow protective, potentially causing a fight.

Conclusion

We all know how much our dog’s love getting outside and mingling with other dogs. However, you should always ensure that your dog is up to date on their vaccinations, well-behaved, and is following the rules. Doing so will not only ensure that your dog has fun, but that the other dogs at the park get to enjoy their time as well.

Additional Resources:

  1. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/dog-park-etiquette-tips/
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_KZ2w8-nF0
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLKybIx74VA

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