Written by Emily Bayne
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 04/07/2023, edited: 04/07/2023
Dog park etiquette doesn't exist to prevent embarrassment (although it definitely can). Obeying park rules and taking precautions can help furry parkgoers avoid injury and illness.
Following these etiquette tips will ensure you never have a dog park "faux paw" again — and may even make you a favorite dog park patron! Read on to learn precisely what you should and shouldn't be doing at the bark park.
The first rule of the dog park is to pay close attention to your pup — this means don't play on your phone or pull out a magazine. Things can happen in an instant; all it takes is one second for a fight to break out or for your dog to bolt.
Use your time at the dog park to bond with your pet and watch how they socialize with other dogs. Taking the time to be present will make the trip more enjoyable for you and Fido, and give you the opportunity to brush up on training skills.
Signs are posted everywhere, yet the most common complaint of paw park patrons is that park-goers don't pick up their dog's poop. Besides being gross, poop can contain parasites that are easily spread to other dogs who step on it or eat it.
Have your waste bags at the ready while you're in the off-leash area. No one wants to pick up your dog's poop, so do your part and clean up after them. Not only is this common courtesy, but it's actually required by law in certain cities, like NYC and San Francisco — local pet parents who skip out on their doggy duty could face hefty fines!
That leads us to our next dog park etiquette tip: vaccinate your dog. Parvo spreads quickly from soil contaminated with infectious poop. Parvo is a serious illness that can cause rapid dehydration and death in young dogs.
Respiratory viruses, like kennel cough, are another danger that can lurk in the dog park. Protect your pup and others by vaccinating them against these preventable illnesses.
The last thing you want is for your dog to be the reason another dog has fleas. Besides being an itchy nuisance, fleas can transmit tapeworms. Keep the flea population down by giving your woofer a flea bath before and after you go to the park. The furry park patrons will thank you!
The best way to "pawtect" your pup from fleas, ticks, and other pests is to administer a parasite preventative like K9 Advantix or Frontline Plus. That way, your pooch will still be protected even if they play with other dogs at the park who haven't been treated for parasites.
Females in heat can spell big trouble at the dog park. Estrus often causes male dogs to act aggressively. And, of course, unwanted mating can occur. It's best you keep your pup at home when they're in heat. Heat cycles only last for a few weeks, so your woofer won't have to miss out for long.
Keep your pet away from the gate when dogs are coming or going from the enclosure. It's easy for pups to make a quick escape when the gate is open, but there can be other issues as well. Dogs tend to congregate around woofers as they enter an enclosure, but these enthusiastic greetings aren’t always welcome.
Consider how scary it would be if you were swarmed by a mob of excited people when entering a store. As you would imagine, this is the same distressing feeling pups get when arriving at the park. Prevent fighting and scaring park-goers by keeping Sparky away from others until they're inside the enclosure and comfortable with the attention.
We know — it's a bummer having to leave your pup behind on a park trip, but it's simply not worth the risk. The dog park is unsafe for dogs who are too young to be vaccinated.
It's best to leave the human littles at home. Bringing kids is risky due to the potential for dog bites or falls into holes made by the furry park-goers. Most dog parks don't allow children under 12 to enter the off-leash area anyway, so it's best to leave the kiddos at home until they get a little older.
We recommend bringing a short leash (rather than a retractable one) so you can maintain control over your pup in case your dog park excursion goes south.
If your dog ordinarily wears a spike or metal collar, be sure to replace it with a regular collar before heading to the dog park. Sure, they look cool, but metal and spike collars can seriously injure other dogs while playing.
Here's a quick review of our dog park etiquette tips:
If everyone respects park etiquette, it'll be a smooth (and safe!) experience for everyone!
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