We’ve been regulars at the dog park for nearly two years and our dogs love it. Actually, Rodrigo and Blue love the dog park. Sydney loves the ride and she has some friends that she likes, but she’s slow to warm up to new dogs. Going to the dog park has been fantastic for our dogs, it’s an easy way for them to get exercise and have fun, and I love the social aspect for the humans too.
The Dog Park Etiquette Game
I’m one of those happy people who can talk to anyone and I love striking up conversations at the dog park. Recently, a fellow dog parker said that what I really needed to write was a list of things NOT to do at the dog park. We had a fantastic time creating this list and I highly recommend that you do the same. You’ll be cracking up in no time as you share your dog park tales.
Dog Park Etiquette by Kimberly Gauthier + Other Dog Owners
We see your dog taking a dump; we know you see your dog too
It drives me nuts when people either ignore the obvious or shrug their shoulders and say that they don’t have a bag. Here, I have an extra. It blows apple chunks to step in another dog’s crap and track that back to your car, so please pick it up. Part of raising a dog is picking up their poo. It’s polite and it’s hygienic. Let’s keep the dog park clean so that our dogs can have fun running around, uninhibited, without tracking poo back home.
If you adopted your dog this morning, don’t take him/her to the dog park this afternoon
I’ve had three people tell me that their dog is shy or hasn’t been socialized, because he/she just came from the shelter. Give the little guy a chance to get used to his new family and home before introducing him to the dog park. Have you developed good recall? Does the dog know that when you’re saying “Barkly,” you’re referring to him?
On the other hand, I can understand a dog owner’s excitement about being able to go to the dog park and I have seen some smart dog owners who walked their new friends on the leash around the outside of the dog park area – allowing their dogs to see and smell, but not feel forced into interaction. These dog owners are comforting their dog the entire time, watching for his/her reaction to the stimulus, and communicating to other dog owners that they’re just checking the place out. Now that’s smart.
Don’t you DARE touch my dog
Dogs play and some dogs seem to play rough. When you’re not used to the growling, barking, and mouthing – it may seem like all the dogs are fighting each other. I will admit to feeling over protective at the park, but I learned how to read our dogs and I know when to intercede.
What I will not tolerate is when someone else reaches for my dog to punish him. I’m a sweet girl until you put your hands on my dogs and then I become straight hood and It’s On Like Donkey Kong.
If I feel that someone’s dog is behaving aggressively towards my dogs, I leave. I know that we shouldn’t have to leave the dog park, but I would rather leave than risk injury to one of our dogs. I will not try and punish another person’s dog. If I injure that dog, then I’m liable for the vet bills. And if I don’t know what I’m doing (which I don’t) I can end up making the situation worse or getting hurt.
Keep your aggressive dog at home
I once watched a man walk into a dog park, unleash his dog, and pull his dog off a crying dog, leash his dog, and leave. This happened in less than 5 minutes. The other dog was okay and the guy took his aggressive pooch home and I hope his first call was to a dog trainer. Yikes!
Too many times I’ve seen people with dogs that are too rough, too aggressive. I do believe that dogs should be allowed to work out their issues, but if your dog is injuring dogs, then it might be time to suspend dog park visits until you have a better handle on the issue.
There are various reasons why dogs who aren’t normally aggressive become aggressive and this is why we as dog owners should be aware of our dogs’ body language. We now have a puppy and Rodrigo is protective of both Blue and his sister Sydney. If a see Rodrigo herding dogs away from Blue, I’ll get prepared to leash him up and I watch for any signs of aggression. If Rodrigo get’s aggressive (shows teeth and growling in a “I’m so not playing” way) then he goes back on the leash and sits next to me. If he can’t keep it together, we go home.
Don’t ruin everyone’s dog park experience by allowing an aggressive (or temporarily moody) dog run the show.
Bring toys for everyone
One day I arrived at the dog park to witness a highly offended couple screaming at everyone as they were leaving the dog park with their 5 dogs and an arm load of toys. “We will never come here again!” Wow! They brought a lot of toys and were upset that other dogs were trying to play with their dogs and play with their toys. What they wanted was for everyone to leash up their dogs and keep them away while they had their fun. It was preposterous.
If you don’t want other dogs to play with your toys, then it’s best to go to the dog park during the off peak hours. If you arrive on a sunny Saturday or after work hours, you’re going to have to share.
And if you have a dog who is toy possessive – then consider working this out with a professional dog trainer. It’s important that the experience be fun for everyone, including your dog.
Don’t feed other people’s dogs
“This is wrong for a multitude of reasons – a dog could have allergies, be on a weight management program, or be being trained using treats. There’s a few people at my local dog park who regularly feed the Guide Dogs I walk – they then spend a great deal of time sitting and waiting for a treat, or following them around. It makes them impossible to train, and it’s hard to make sure their diets are maintained when you don’t know what has been fed!” ~ Elle Blake, elleblake.com
“Food can start fights and distracts the dogs from playing. Leave the treats in the car.” ~ Gina Mulligan, The Adventures of Canine Coda http://caninecoda.blogspot.com/
Don’t leave your things unattended
“Lots of dogs love to play with leashes or other objects. My dog has stolen several leashes and almost got a set of car keys. Yes, everyone has to watch their pet but why invite temptation? Dogs are fast.” ~ The Adventures of Canine Coda http://caninecoda.blogspot.com/ Gina Mulligan firstname.lastname@example.org
“Do not bring a large object in and leave it unattended. Once I was at a dog park and this lady came with her dog a few kids. They had their blankets and other miscellaneous items in this wagon which they left unattended. I think by the time we left, almost every dog in the park had urinated on the wagon.” ~ Gina Baker My Chocolate Peaces http://mychocolatepeaces.com
Get off the phone
“Too often people use the dog park as a low-maintenance substitute for walking their dog/s. They come in, set their dog/s free and then ignore them. They get on their phones, chat with friends, text or scroll through their Facebook page. Many can’t seem to both use their phone and watch their dog at the same time. This is also a great excuse for not having to pick up poop. These are the people who believe in the “didn’t see it” rule. If you don’t see your dog poop, you’re not responsible for picking it up. Right? Nine times out of ten, the dogs of these types of owners tend to be undisciplined bullies who steal other dogs toys and dominate the pack. And their behavior goes unmonitored.” ~ David Viggiano.
Little dogs deserve respect too
“Teach your dog to like ALL dogs. Dogs parks are usually populated with larger breed dogs who are great with dogs their size, but sometimes not so patient with small dogs. As the owner of two small dogs, I find people many people with bigger dogs get irritated when I bring my pups to the dog park. Mine play great with big dogs, but some big dogs don’t tolerate them. Often I’ve come across big dog owners who’ve had to hold their dog by the collar and stare me down impatiently hoping that I will turn around and leave because their dog would eat mine for a snack if set free. If your dog isn’t trained to play with all sizes of dogs, s/he shouldn’t be running free in a dog park.” ~ David Viggiano. email@example.com
Can we agree that sometimes the humping is annoying?
“People who let their dogs hump other dogs. I have a very shy 5 year old lab I rescued. There is nothing worse than taking her to the dog park and having another dog hump her. Recently we were there and another dog was trying to mount her. I continuously had to get him off her. The owner saw what was happening and just sat on the bench watching. We had to leave the dog park!” ~ Alexandra De Armas
I know that this doesn’t even scratch the surface of dog park etiquette, so I’d love to hear what you think should be added to the list!