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Dog Park Etiquette


If you’re fortunate enough to have a dog park in your town, congratulations! The dog park can be a wonderful place to exercise your dog, get him better socialized, and most of all have some fun! But, nothing ruins a trip to the dog park like owners who ignore dog park etiquette.

In addition to regular rules of the dog park, usually posted at your local park – rules such as, dogs must be up-to-date on vaccines, dogs must not be left unattended, owners must pick up after their dogs, etc – familiarizing yourself with these important dog park etiquette tips, provided by, can make your (and your dog’s) trip to the park a fun one!

  • Call your dog away from the gate while other dogs are entering or leaving.
  • Pay close attention to your dog and keep it out of trouble.
  • Always be aware of your dog’s location and the body language of the dogs your dog is interacting with
  • Acceptable or unacceptable dog behavior depends on the age and temperament of your dog. Dogs will bark, snarl, and even snap at each other as part of their normal socialization. Interfere and stop the interaction if it appears to be escalating into a fight.
  • Immediately stop aggressive behavior towards humans.
  • Do not bring your dog to the dog park if it is sick, has parasites, or has fleas. Do not bring animals that are not dogs
  • Be responsible for your dogs behavior
  • Do not discipline someone else’s dog
  • If you see a dog on leash or with its owner off to the side, please respect their privacy and don’t approach until the owner says OK
  • Do not bring in people food to eat.
  • Do not hand out dog treats to other peoples dogs.

Some of these tips may seem obvious, like keeping an eye out for your dog and keeping him at home when he’s sick. But, before you visit the dog park, take the other dogs and dog owners into consideration. You might think it’s a great idea to bring treats for your dog, to reward him with good dog park behavior, but the truth is, there will be many other dogs there and you don’t know how they’ll react when your dog gets a treat and they don’t.

In addition to dog park etiquette for your dog, here are some guidelines for people to follow, too!

  • Call your dog away from the entry gate when a new dog is entering. A dog trying to enter the park can become anxious or overwhelmed when greeted by many unfamiliar dogs. A tense or uncomfortable dog is more likely to become aggressive or frightened.
  • If your dog wears a metal collar, including spiked collars or choke chains, remove these before allowing him into the park. Dogs at the park often play and romp, even rough-house with each other. If your dog is wearing a metal collar, his playmate may get injured just from playing with him.
  • Don’t go to the park wearing your Sunday best. It’s nearly impossible to get in and out of the dog park without at least some dirt, mud, or drool on yourself. The beauty of dogs is that they love us no matter how we dress!
  • Be cautious when bringing young children to the dog park. Nearly every time I take my dog to the park, I see a small toddler running around unattended. And, almost every time, I see them knocked down or charged at by a running dog. What’s funny, is that the toddlers parents usually scoop them up and get angry at the dog or dog owner that knocked them down. The truth is, you’re at a dog park, not a playground. Bringing your kids can be a wonderful experience for them, just make sure to keep them close and teach them that not all dogs will welcome their attention.

Follow these guidelines of dog park etiquette to ensure a great trip for both you and your dog! And most importantly, have fun!

To read more great tips, click here.

Do you take your dog to the dog park? Have any other dog park etiquette tips not mentioned above? Share them with us!

15 Responses to Dog Park Etiquette
  1. ruthmoseley
    April 13, 2014 | 2:45 pm

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  2. Jennifer
    April 10, 2014 | 11:40 pm

    I would like to take my dachshunds to the local dog park, but I worry about how they would react to other dogs. They tend to be very territorial; when I let them out to “do their business” right around my house and someone else is walking a dog nearby, they sometimes get aggressive, even to much larger dogs.

  3. French Bulldog Times
    April 10, 2014 | 10:25 am

    […] Acceptable or unacceptable dog behavior depends on the age and temperament of your dog. Dogs will bark, snarl, and even snap at each other as part of their normal socialization. Interfere and stop the interaction if it appears to be escalating into a …read more […]

  4. Polly
    April 10, 2014 | 10:04 am

    Don’t give treat to other people’s dogs – YES! Not sure if this is a Greek thing, a necessity to feed all the time – but it’s so annoying when I’m trying to train my dog through rewards, and teach her not to eat from strangers (due to the disgusting practice of poisoned treats in Greece). Not to mention weight!

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    April 10, 2014 | 9:18 am

    […] By Brandy Arnold […]

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    […] By Brandy Arnold […]

  7. Georgia
    June 6, 2013 | 10:11 am

    I have a question: What if you have a breed that many people don’t like or trust e.g a Doberman even if it’s a lovely dog that is well trained and friendly and a bit of a sook should you bring it to the dog park and if you do should you let it off the leash? I just want to know what to do and how to deal with what people might say.

    • LeslieKinney
      June 6, 2013 | 10:24 am

      Don’t let people’s prejudices hold you back! I have a rott/shep mix, boxer mix and a pittie/bull dog mix. They are well trained fun-loving dogs and are enriched by the socialization. They help change people’s minds about breed specific mannerisms. Also-You should let your dog off the leash immediately. A tethered dog is more likely to either guard you or feel panic if it can not run from an onslaught of “hello’s”. If drama occurs during greetings and there is a fight, concentrate on YOUR dog. If it is unsafe to grab a collar, grab the back legs to separate. Rarely (in our park) is there a scuffle that draws blood when these rules are followed. But Definitely give you dog the chance to prove his/her worth!!

      • Marilia
        April 10, 2014 | 10:58 am

        Well said!… :)

    • Ruth
      June 24, 2013 | 6:36 pm

      At my dog park in Las Vegas we have ALL breeds of dogs at the same time. We have a Big Dog park and a Small dog park. My Chocolate Lab just loves to go.

  8. Bruce Shaw
    June 6, 2013 | 10:07 am

    We have a dog park near us specifically for small and elderly dogs. It’s actually pretty boring. They all stand around eating grass except for one of my dogs that likes chasing a soccer ball. Hysterical to watch because she gets so excited and the ball is bigger than she is.

    • Barbara
      April 13, 2014 | 2:17 am

      LOL…that is funny Bruce. I have a 6 year old Grey Hound mix that I took from the streets of Panama. All she does is sniff the ground. She never gets in other dog’s faces nor does she do the hand shake, she totally ignores other dogs.

  9. AAC
    May 6, 2013 | 5:05 pm

    Big issue at the dog park….be aware of your dogs size in relationship to other dogs. If you have a toy or small breed, it may be a bad idea to have them with the larger dogs. Even if you can say “my small dog plays with big dogs all the time”….it doesn’t mean your dog will do well with ALL large dogs. Some dogs have a prey drive and even if they behave well most of the time, a scared small dog can trigger the need to chase. And even if everyone is behaving, a small dog can get hurt easily if several larger dogs are playing nearby. If you have a dog under 10lbs, you may be better of finding a park with a designated small dog area.

    • Cait
      April 21, 2014 | 11:12 am

      Amen! It also doesn’t mean that every large dog gets along with small dogs. My lab was attacked by a yorkie when she was little (because the owner thought it was cute that her would growl and bite, her response was “oh he only has little teeth, it doesn’t hurt”, I was livid!) and is now traumatized by small dogs.

  10. Diana
    May 1, 2013 | 11:30 pm

    Two very important things you forgot to mention: (1) please pick up your dog’s poop and (2) NEVER take a dog in heat to a dog park. Many of them don’t allow any dog that has not been neutered/spayed.

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