Dog Park Etiquette
Here at Healthy Paws, we love to hit the dog park with our pets. Dog parks are fun ways for pet parents to socialize and exercise pets! Dog parks are also shared spaces. Respecting the rules and etiquette of the dog park keeps it a safe, enjoyable place to be.
After choosing a dog park and preparing your dog with basic commands (many trainers say your dog needs those recall skills first), you’ve got one last thing to go over – the basic guidelines of all things proper at the park.
Dog Park Dos and Don’ts
Don’t bring puppies under four months to the park. Young dogs’ immune systems aren’t fully developed and they can catch all sorts of diseases. Dog parks are breeding grounds for intestinal parasites, parvovirus, and kennel cough.
Do know your pet’s personality. Is your dog a bit of a bully? Nobody’s pet is perfect! If your pet likes to be top dog, the dog park may not be the best option. Dog parks can be overwhelming for anxious or shy dogs. If you have any doubts about your pet’s behavior, keep Fido at home.
Do leave the park if your dog becomes a nuisance. If your dog starts humping or harassing other dogs, or even jumping on people, it’s best to pack it up and leave the park.
Do clean up after your pet. Although doggie bags are available at some parks, always bring your own! Dog parks are free, public places – it’s common courtesy to keep them clean.
Do have your dog up-to-date on all vaccinations. Basic vaccinations all dogs should have include distemper, rabies, hepatitis, Bordetella (kennel cough), parvovirus, and parainfluenza. Some vaccines require booster shots, so it’s best to schedule yearly vet appointments to keep your pet fully vaccinated.
Don’t bring your intact dog. If your dog isn’t neutered or spayed, do not bring them to the dog park. An unneutered male is a particular target, and a female in heat can most certainly come home pregnant. Also, do not bring a pregnant dog into a dog park.
Do supervise your pet at all times. Never leave your dog unattended in a dog park, especially when there are other dogs around. Avoid talking on a cell phone and don’t turn your back on your dog.
Do BYOW. (Bring your own water!) Have a bowl and bottled water on hand to quench your pet’s thirst. Communal bowls or troughs at dog parks are breeding grounds for all sorts of parasites. Hookworms, roundworms, giardia, and coccidia can all be spread through water.
Don’t bring treats or toys to the dog park. These can attract other dogs and start fights. If you want to reward your pet, do so before or after you get to the dog park.
Do stay vigilant and know when to intervene. Put your phone away so you can keep watch on your dog and those around. Stiff body language, stalking, and a pack of dogs chasing a much smaller dog are all signs to intervene before something happens. In fact, if at any point your dog doesn’t seem to be having a good time, it’s a safe bet to head home.
Dog parks are great ways to provide your pet with exercise and new playmates. Remember that the dog park is a shared, public place. Use common courtesy and follow any posted rules at the park. To find a dog park near you, use online resources like DogPark.com or DogGoes.