Dog parks are a place for dogs to have fun and socialize, but sometimes things can go wrong and somebody or their pet can get hurt. To avoid upsetting or hurting someone, it’s important to be familiar with dog park etiquette. To prepare you and your dog for your first visit to a dog park, it’s best to go at a time when the park is the least busy. That way, you and your dog can scope out the park without the distraction or stress of other dogs. Every park will have their own set of rules that should be honored. The rules are put in place to keep everyone and their dogs safe. Most parks have their fields divided by weights, which helps keep dogs of the same weight division safe and happy. Keep the dog-human ratio manageable. A single person shouldn’t be managing more than 2 or 3 dogs at a time. Keeping your dog supervised at all times is crucial. It’s not a good idea to sit down and start immersing yourself in a book or your phone because you need to be able to immediately assist if there is to be an altercation. Also, you always need to clean up after your dog, which is another reason why they should always be supervised. Many dog parks have at least one trash can with small baggies in case you forgot your own.
Not every dog is a candidate for dog parks. If your dog has behavioral issues, is too young, or has medical problems, it’s probably best to keep your pet at home. The dog park is not the right place to try and correct a dog’s behavioral issues. Behavioral issues should be resolved in a more controlled environment before the dog is introduced to the dog park. Also, if your dog is not spayed/neutered or is not up to date with their shots, you shouldn’t bring them to a dog park.
Most dog parks will have their rules displayed, but in the case that they don’t, it’s always good to know basic dog park etiquette. If you see someone or their dog disobeying a rule or doing something that doesn’t seem safe, speak up! Safety should be the first priority and some people might not be aware of dog park etiquette. Don’t discipline another person’s dog, but instead politely let the owner know if their dog is misbehaving or if they themselves are not following dog park etiquette. Once you get the hang of dog park etiquette, you, your dog, and everyone else at the park will have a safer, better experience.