Dog Park Etiquette: How to Make Sure Everyone and Their Dogs Have a Great Time

As a dog owner, you know how important it is that you give Fido his daily walk. But, if you live in a city, it can be difficult to really let him let loose and run wild. Thankfully, dog parks have been becoming increasingly more popular in recent years, and they provide a place for dogs to run off-leash and really let out that pent-up energy. But, despite the freedom that dog parks allow your pup, you’ll need to stick to some rules, both written and unwritten.

Follow the Rules

Just like anywhere else, the rules are there for a reason. Rules allow everything to run smoothly and give everyone a fair experience. Each dog park is going to have the basics that you can expect–you must supervise your pet at all times, you must be of a certain age–but every park is different and is bound to have its own rules you must abide by. Look out for rules posted outside the dog park or, if the park has one, its website.  

Pick Up After Your Dog

Do you really need this one explained? Besides being a common rule at most dog parks, it’s also a common courtesy. How much do you like stepping in your dog’s unmentionables, let alone another dog’s? Even if you see evidence of other, lazier dog owners skirting this rule, it’s best for everyone that you practice the golden rule.

Make Sure Your Dog Is a Good Fit

Like sending your firstborn off to their first day of school, it can be a little unnerving letting your dog run free among other dogs. It’s normal to feel a little overprotective of you dog, but on the other hand, it can be dangerous to overestimate your dog’s ability to fit in with the others. If you have a feeling that your dog may not be able to keep up with the others, it’s probably best to sit out the trip to the dog park. This includes dogs who are still young, too small, or pregnant.

Pay Attention to Your Dog

With other dog owners there, chances are you’ll get caught up trading stories of the time your furry friend did that totally cute thing. Or, you might get caught up in a book or some social media drama you’re reading on your phone. Meanwhile, you don’t realize that the dogs have started fighting. Just like you would a child, you should keep an eye on the proceedings to ensure everyone stays safe. You needn’t keep watch at every moment, but make sure that you’re never too far away and too distracted from the action.

Don’t Let Your Dog Be a Bully

It’s funny how similar dogs can be to children. Just like children, they can get caught up in petty behaviors that ruin the experience for everyone. While it can be good to let your dog work out his social behaviors, you shouldn’t allow him to take advantage of the other dogs at the park. For example, while play-fighting can be healthy for dogs, you should put an end to it if your pet seems to be taking it too far. This also extends to toys – if you notice your dog repeatedly stealing others’ toys, you’ll want to curb this behavior. No one likes a toy hoarder.

The thing about etiquette is that it isn’t a set of hard-and-fast rules; it changes depending on the situation. The best way to find out what is and isn’t accepted at your local dog park is to go there yourself and see how everyone else acts. Chances are, if you just let your dog be happy and energetic while stopping any negative behavior, you’ll have figured most of it out.

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