A Concise Guide to Dog Park Etiquette

Reading Time: 4 minutes

illustrations of rules in dog parks

Whether you are a seasoned dog walker or a first-time pet owner, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with dog park rules. Some parks may have signs listing their rules and regulations at their entrances. However, some may not. So, here is our list of things to keep in mind when taking Fido for their daily constitutional.

A Lesson on Manners for a Dog Park Near Me

Our dogs love their outings to the park. They get to run and play. Sniff interesting smells and meet new friends. Maybe even have a swim. To make trips to the park a peaceful and pleasant experience for all dogs and owners, there is a list of dos and don’ts that we should all bear in mind.

10 Ways to Make Dog Parks Safe and Fun for Everyone

Walking your hound in a scenic park where they can have fun and meet friends is truly a top prize for most pet owners. But it’s not quite as simple as just taking your dog to the park and letting them run free. For the sake of your animal’s safety, and that of other dog park users, make sure you have a read through the following dog park rules.

Make Sure Your Dog is Vaccinated

While all canine dog park visitors should be vaccinated, this might not always be the case. To prevent your pet from contracting awful diseases such as rabies and canine distemper, make sure that they stay up to date with their vaccinations. Similarly, it is incredibly important to make sure that your pup is appropriately protected against fleas, ticks, and intestinal parasites.

group of dogs running in an off leash dog park near me

Don’t Take Young Puppies to the Park

Puppies younger than 16 weeks are not ready for the park. Only take your puppy to a fenced dog park once they have had all the necessary vaccinations. When you do take your pup to the park for the first few times, make sure to keep them away from dogs that might show aggression towards them. The first few socialization experiences in a young dog’s life play a big role in forming their confidence and personality.

Keep a Close Eye on Dogs Who Aren’t Neutered or Spayed

Female dogs that are in season, or in heat, should not be brought to a park for dogs. Their scent can lead to aggression and fights between other dogs, especially unaltered males. Most importantly, dog owners will want to avoid the risk of unintended mating and the subsequent puppies.

Know When You are in an On-Leash or Off-Leash Area

Dogs behave quite differently towards one another when they are on a leash as opposed to being off-leash. Make sure to be aware of the different on- and off-leash areas in the park. Moreover, stick to the rules of the different dog areas.

Remove Your Dog’s Lead Before They Play

Horrific accidents can happen when dogs play with their leads on. As soon as you see that your dog is interested in playing with another dog, clip their lead off!

Pick Up That Poop!

Nobody likes to see, or accidentally stand in, dog poop on their afternoon walk! It is unhygienic. And, it can lead to the spread of parasites and disease. Some parks might have poo bag dispensers. Nevertheless, always be sure to carry your waste bags with you. So that you can pick up your doggy’s doo-da along your walk.

Don’t Bring any Toys if Your Dog Doesn’t Like Sharing

For canines that have a strong resource guarding instinct, special toys are better left at home. Does your pooch love his plushy a little too much? Don’t risk the start of a fight or negative vibes. Rather leave your doggo’s toy at home.

Pay Attention at All Times!

You are relaxed, switching off. Your pup is having a whale of a time. You might be tempted to check your mails or your IG feed. Don’t. Our furry friends can sense when our focus is not 100 % on them. That is when they might take a chance and do something that they know that you won’t like. Also, accidents and altercations can happen so quickly. It’s best to keep an eye on your pet, their body language, and their surrounds all the time.

two dogs greeting each other in a dog park near me

The Most Important Dog Park Command: Recall

If your dog has a great recall, you can get them out of just about any sticky situation. Combine this with pet parent vigilance and almost all your dog park visits should remain altercation free. Use your recall to call your pooch away from an aggressive looking dog or potential danger, for example, a moving vehicle.

Make Sure You Know How to Break Up a Dog Fight Safely

Despite our best intentions, dog fights do happen. Even if it is not your dog that is part of the fight, it can be helpful to know how to respond. Know the dos and don’ts of breaking up a dog fight:

  • Break the dogs’ concentration by throwing something at them. For example, a jacket or sweatshirt.
  • Distract them with loud noises and/or shouting.
  • If possible, spray the dogs with water.
  • Try to place something big and solid between the fighting dogs. For example, a backpack.
  • Grab high up on the back legs of the dog and pull them away.

Dog Water Park Rules and Manners

Are you fortunate enough to have a body of freshwater at your local dog park? Be extra vigilant when your hound is playing in the water. If your Golden Retriever loves playing fetch in the water, take care where you aim their toy. In other words, don’t throw it at other dogs or swimmers in the water. Also, don’t throw their rubber ducky to a distance that they are not able to swim to.

On the other hand, there might be a body of water at the park that is not suitable for dogs to swim or play in. For example, a duck pond that is for “Ducks Only”! Or perhaps the water is unsanitary and could make your dog ill.

Indoor Dog Park Near Me? What are the Rules?

The rules for an indoor facility are much the same as those mentioned above. With an indoor park, there may be designated off-leash play areas for small and large dogs. Be sure to abide by these guidelines.

When entering the indoor dog park, make sure that your dog does so in a calm and orderly manner. You might need to enter with your dog on-leash so that they can settle a little first.

dogs playing in a fun indoor dog park

Ask Yourself: Is My Dog Ready for an Off-Leash Dog Park Near Me?

For you and your pet to have an enjoyable, stress-free time at the dog park, you should have a few things in place:

Does your dog respond effectively to a recall cue?

Is your pup well socialized with both humans and dogs?

Do you feel that you can trust your doggo to behave appropriately in an off-leash dog park? Yes? Well, then, what are you waiting for? Pack in the dog treats, recall whistle, and the poop bags, and off you go!

Common Questions About Dog Parks

How old should a puppy be to go to a dog park?

Can I bring my pup’s toys to the park?

How to break up a dog fight?

All product and Company names are Trademarks™ or Registered® trademarks of their respective holders.

Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase CertaPet.com may earn a commission. Keep in mind that we link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission we receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.