8 Ways to Practice Proper Etiquette in Dog Parks

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Don't bring a favorite toy.

Don't bring a favorite toy.
By all means bring a plaything, but leave your pet's absolute favorite toy at home because chances are good that it won't make it out of the park unscathed.

Pick up the doo-doo!

Pick up the doo-doo!
A dog park is not a public pet toilet. Always dispose of your "doggy bags" properly.

Don't bring a sick pet.

Don't bring a sick pet.
When pets are under the weather they can be really grumpy and overly aggressive, and can risk passing something on to other pets. Most importantly, make sure that your pet is completely vaccinated.

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Control your dog.

Control your dog.
Your dog should know and respect the basic commands (come, sit and stay) before you take it to a dog park, so you can prevent it from harassing other dogs and their owners. "Your dog has to respect you as a strong pack leader," says Smith. Also avoid correcting the behaviors of other people's dogs without receiving permission from the owner first -- or the scrap might end up being between humans!

Don't bring small children.

Don't bring small children.
A dog park is no place for small children. They run and yell, and dogs will instinctively chase them because that's what dogs do.

Repair any damage.

Repair any damage.
Besides stepping in doggy droppings, there's nothing worse than twisting your ankle in a hidden hole in the ground. If your dog is a chronic digger, take the time to refill the holes.

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Don't bring food and treats.

Don't bring food and treats.
Unless you want a pack of scavenging mutts descending on you and your pet, leave the food at home.

Don't bring dogs in heat.

Don't bring dogs in heat.
Aside from the potential for an unspayed dog to become pregnant, the mere presence of a hot-to-trot female can send normally well-behaved males into a frenzy, which can be traumatic for your pooch. In general, it's best to have your dog spayed or neutered.

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20 thoughts on “8 Ways to Practice Proper Etiquette in Dog Parks

  1. I really enjoyed (not) the day that a couple brought their dog and a three year old and a toddler in a stroller into the dog park with a blanket and food and then told us to keep our dogs under control because they were bothering them and scaring the children.  They were informed as to the purpose of a “DOG PARK” and it was “suggested” that one of the parents take the children to the playground area while the other supervise the dog at the “DOG PARK.”  The rest of us couldn’t believe it!

  2. I really enjoyed (not) the day that a couple brought their dog and a three year old and a toddler in a stroller into the dog park with a blanket and food and then told us to keep our dogs under control because they were bothering them and scaring the children.  They were informed as to the purpose of a “DOG PARK” and it was “suggested” that one of the parents take the children to the playground area while the other supervise the dog at the “DOG PARK.”  The rest of us couldn’t believe it!

  3. We have a wonderful dog park not far from home and my Sheltie loves going.  My advice is be aware from the time you get there of the behaviors of other dogs as well as your own.  Often you can avert a problem by stepping in and redirecting the dogs.  Also it isn’t always the unaltered that mount.  One day three altered dogs in a row (not mine thank goodness)  were going at it for quite a while.  At first we owners were giggling at the “menage a tois” but after several minutes it just got tacky and the owners finally broke them up.

  4. Also. . . monitor your dog’s level of aggression.  If she is playing with another dog and always dominating, have her take a break.  When two dogs are playing, they should take turns “winning” (being on top in a tussle.)  It should be about equal, one dog shouldn’t dominate more than the other.

    And, if your dog gets in a fight – take her HOME.  Once she is riled up, it is likely to happen again and again.

    I like to keep a spray bottle with water with me – works great when I need to break up a disagreement.

  5. I think that while some of these tips should just be common sense, I found others to be very helpful.  I love #5 as we have seen this happen numerous times and can never understand what goes through the minds of the offenders.

  6. Don’t NOT take your dogs to a dog park for those reasons.  I love the one near my home, most dog owners are aware of their dogs behavior and if there are problem dogs the owners don’t usually come back since they would have been given tips on how to control their dog from seasoned park goers.  The other part is that no dog is on their own territory so they are all trying to make friends with the other dogs.  I was amazed at how well the dogs got along, just so darn happy to be running and playing with other dogs just like them, like a bunch of really happy kids squealing in delight at a great play ground!

  7. Great tips for all dog owners. I don’t take my dog to the dog park because I worry that some dog owners may not take into account these common sense rules.

  8. Great tips for all dog owners. I don’t take my dog to the dog park because I worry that some dog owners may not take into account these common sense rules.

  9. Unneutered dogs are a real problem too!  A male dog that had not been fixed, wouldn’t leave my spayed service dog or my neutered male dog alone at our last trip to the dog park.  It made our visit quite unpleasant!

    1. keep in mind also, a dog who seems overly amorous can also be displaying dominance and I have seen this time and time again.  It can become unpleasant for everyone.  I have a tiny grey hound and mostly keep him home because other agressive dogs make going to the park a nightmare for us both.

  10. I have to wonder why RD has such light type in the tips of the E version, are old people with poor eyes not meant to read these? I where glasses and still barely can make out the tips. 

  11. I have to wonder why RD has such light type in the tips of the E version, are old people with poor eyes not meant to read these? I where glasses and still barely can make out the tips. 

  12. I have to wonder why RD has such light type in the tips of the E version, are old people with poor eyes not meant to read these? I where glasses and still barely can make out the tips. 

    1. I couldn’t agree more.  I have to struggle to read the tiny pale type.  I hate having to click on so many panes to read the stuff, too.  Why not just give us the whole article at once?  Sometimes I skip articles I would like to read becausse getting to them is so annoying.

  13. Wow!  Great article!  These should be posted at your local park!  I would have brought treats and a toy.

  14. Funny that 6 of these applies equally to bringing children to the park!

  15. Funny that 6 of these applies equally to bringing children to the park!

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