Top tips for Good Dog Park Etiquette

6 Nov, 2020

Top tips for Good Dog Park Etiquette

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As every dog owner knows it takes time to train a puppy for road sense and more importantly how to behave in a park. Some people say it’s the owner who needs training. Regardless of who’s leading who there are some very important tips for dog park etiquette.

dog park
Keep your dog on leash if you think they need restraining

What is dog park etiquette?

Dog park etiquette is a protocol for dog owner and dog on how to behave, what to do and what not to do in a public park. They are in a sense the unwritten rules of dog parks. There may be some dog park design guidelines at the entrance of the park.

It is worth reading them and understanding if there are restrictions for particular dogs in particular areas of the park area. It is also worth considering when are dog parks most busy, to ensure you choose the best time for you and your dog.

Being considerate when walking with your dog and playing in the park with your pet means that others will find this public space a safe place to be with their pets.

Remember these dog park etiquette top tips

When you visit a dog park, it’s a great way to meet other owners and let your dog socialize. There are etiquette and safety tips to remember, however.

For example, the last thing you ever want is for your dog to bite another dog or a person. Of course, you don’t want that to happen to your dog either.

With that in mind, the following are our recommended dog park etiquette tips and things to remember during your next visit.

Is your dog ready for a play in the park?

Not every dog is ready for dog park etiquette or well-suited to visiting a dog park. This is likely true for very young puppies who are still in training and socialising. A few situations where you might want to skip the park include:

  • A puppy younger than four months or one without all their shots should not go around other dogs that you don’t know. Even if your dog isn’t a puppy but isn’t up-to-date on vaccinations, the same is true. Dogs that will go to dog parks should be vaccinated for Bordetella, canine influenza, and leptospirosis.
  • If your dog is in heat, she should not go to the park.
  • A dog showing signs of sickness shouldn’t be around other dogs.
  • Your dog should be able to obey basic commands such as come and stay before going to a dog park.
  • If your dog is aggressive or reactive, a dog park might not be the best idea.
  • If your dog guards their things, they might not interact with other dogs very well.

Choose the right park for your dog

Consider what your dog needs in a dog park

There are certain types of dog parks that you should look for to make sure they’re the right fit for your dog.

You might want a dog park that requires you to register and show proof of vaccination, for example.

Be careful about communal water bowls because they can spread germs and viruses.

You also want to visit a dog park where it seems like other owners are attentive and making sure they intervene when necessary.

Ideally a park dedicated to dogs should separate big and small dogs into different areas. This is important in dog park etiquette and park design.

Be in ready and in charge when you enter the park

  • If you think your dog is ready and you’ve selected a dog park, you want to take charge when you’re entering, and throughout the time you’re there. You should probably pause before you enter. Most dog parks will have two gates. Don’t go in too quickly. Pause after the first gate so your dog can look around.
  • If there are a lot of dogs around the gates or there seems to be an aggressive situation going on, wait to go in.
  • When you’re in the park, pay attention the entire time.  It’s your responsibility to keep an eye on your dog and watch out for other dogs. You want to spot any trouble before it turns into something serious proactively.
  • You need to be able to read your dog’s signals.
  • When your dog has relaxed ears and a wagging tail, for example, things are probably fine.
  • When your dog’s tail is between their legs or their ears are pinned back, it can be indicative of a problem.

What if there’s a dog fight?

What is the dog park etiquette if a fight breaks out while you’re at the park?

  1. First, try to push them apart with a long stick. You can also bring a squirt gun with you to spray them.
  2. If the dogs still fight after a few seconds, approach from the rear.
  3. Grab your dog’s back legs and lift them like a wheelbarrow. You can then start moving back. Don’t reach for your dog’s collar—they might bite you.
  4. You should always be ready to leave the park if things start to become unfriendly.
Be mindful in case a friendly game with another dog turns unfriendly. Remember the dog park etiquette.

Don’t Bring Food

Avoid bringing any food to the dog park. Dogs can get aggressive if they smell food. You might also want to leave things like toys and balls at home, too—these can trigger fights.

Keep a Leash with You

Most dog parks are permit off-leash walking. However, you still need to have the lead/ leash with you at all times. You need to be prepared to remove your dog quickly from a heated situation.

Your dog should also always wear their collar at a dog park.

Your dog might try to race for the gate when it opens, and a collar can help you grab them before they escape.

Finally, ask permission before you pet someone else’s dogs. You never know how that dog will respond, and you need to make sure you’re respectful of other people and animals at the park.


Further reading about dogs and dog care

At we always try to share useful and informative blogs and practical advice with our members. Read on to find some helpful articles with useful tips for dog owners and dogsitters about dogsitting.

Dogsitters’ tips – Dog’s body language and how to read it

What is a dog sit?

What is a live in dogsitter

The Affordable Alternative to Dog Kennels

What is House Sitting?

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