Community dog parks have lots of advantages for both dogs and owners. But inappropriate behavior can put both the owners’ and the dogs’ safety in jeopardy. Dog park visitors will have a much more rewarding time if basic etiquette is followed. These etiquette suggestions may not be official rules, but they will make the dog park a better place for all who visit.
1. Make sure your eyes are on your dog at all times. The dog must be in visual and voice command control at all times. Dogs should never be left unattended under any circumstances.
2. Be sure to clean up after your dog. Most dog parks have bags or scoopers available.
Prong, spike or choke collars, and retractable leashes are not safe for dog parks and are prohibited in some. These can cause injury or death during play.
3. Do not bring a sick dog or those with fleas, ticks, worms and other parasites. Diseases can spread rapidly and jeopardize the health of all dogs.
4. A common rule for most parks is proof of current vaccinations and a valid license.
5. Make sure you have these documents with you in case you’re asked to show them.
6. Young puppies should not visit dog parks until they have had all of the proper vaccinations, so consult with your veterinarian first to make sure it’s safe to have them around older dogs.
7. It’s best to bring dogs that have been neutered or spayed.
8. Keep the number of dogs you bring to a minimum. Some dog parks have a rule of two dogs per owner at a time because of the difficulty of keeping track of multiple dogs.
9. Dogs should stay on their leashes until you get to the off-leash area.
10. Be sure to close all doors to the dog park or dog run after entering or exiting.
11. Watch for aggression. Dogs becoming too rough or showing bullying behavior should be leashed or taken home.
12. Try not to bring children to a dog park. If you must bring them, supervise them closely. Most parks have a rule that no children under age 12 are allowed. Don’t let them approach unfamiliar dogs.
13. Do not bring food or smoke. Alcohol, smoking, human food, and glass containers are strictly prohibited.
14. Be careful about the toys you bring. Bones, rawhide, and squeaky toys can trigger aggression and are prohibited in some parks. Frisbees, balls and small training treats are usually acceptable.
15. Each dog park has its own set of rules and registration procedures. Check the rules before entering the dog park or check the park’s website before visiting.
Enjoy the park!