Dog Park Dos and Don’ts

Dog Park - Life of Luna the Aussie

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Ahhh, the dog park! It can be such a wonderful experience….or such a terrible one, depending on the behavior of the dogs and, more importantly, the owners. 

Here are some important etiquette tips to ensure everyone has a great time at the dog park. 


Do….Watch your dog

The number one most important thing at a dog park is to watch your dog. Things can escalate quickly with so many excited dogs. Be sure you’re ready to intervene if your dog – or someone else’s – gets out of control. 

Do…..Make sure your dog has good recall 

Teaching your dog good recall skills is important for any situation and in a dog park can help you keep your pup out of trouble. 

Do…..Pick up after your dog

This should be super obvious but not everyone does it. By the way, you need to be watching your dog to know when you need to pick up after him so always keep an eye on your pup! 

Do….Bring a portable water bowl for your dog

Many dog parks have communal water fountains but this is also a good way to spread disease or illness. Bring along a portable water bowl for your pup and then pick it up when he’s done. 

Do….Quickly intervene when play becomes too rough

Fun can turn to mayhem in a matter of seconds. Don’t wait to see if the dogs will work it out. If someone’s growling or showing aggression (whether it’s your dog or another dog), intervene quickly to avoid escalating issues. 

Do….Know your dog 

Be honest with yourself about your dog’s ability to be a good dog park citizen. If he has the slightest tendency to get into tussles, you may be better off staying away. 


Don’t….Ignore your dog 

Ignore your pup at your own peril…and his! If you’re not paying attention, you’re leaving your pooch and his friends up to their own doggie decisions and they aren’t always the wisest ones. Keep a close watch on your dog so you can intervene if necessary. 

Don’t….Bring young children to the dog park 

Most dog parks post rules about minimum ages for kids. The reason for this is to keep kids safe! Excited dogs who are running, jumping and playing can easily knock over a kid. And, should anything turn ugly, you certainly don’t want a child in the middle of it. 

Don’t….Bring treats for your dog or food for yourself 

The last thing you want is a bunch of dogs nosing at you because you have a pocket of treats or a peanut butter sandwich stashed away.  Leave the treats outside the dog park gates to avoid any issues. 

Don’t….Let your little dog play in the big dog area or vice versa 

There are large and small areas for a reason. Even if your teensy tiny maltese loves the big dogs, save that for another time. Little dogs can get in big trouble with dog park dynamics. 

Don’t….Let your dog run in a pack 

Dog packs form like snowballs….they start small and then grow quickly. The dogs may seem like they’re having fun, at first. But this dynamic can lead to problems. Get your dog out of the pack and away from it for your pup’s safety. Hopefully other owners will follow suit. 

Don’t…..Bring a puppy

Puppies under four months shouldn’t be at a dog park. They may not have all of their vaccinations and they’re still babies! Dog park dynamics can be overwhelming to a youngster. Give them a little more time to grow before introducing them to the dog park gang. 

Don’t…..Bring your female dog in heat 

Does this really need to be pointed out? Don’t bring your female dog in heat to a dog park, period. Nothing good can come of it. 

Above all, don’t hesitate to get the heck out if things don’t seem right. It’s up to all owners to be aware of what’s going on and monitor their own dogs’ behaviors. Dog parks can be as awesome as the dogs and people who congregate there! 

17 thoughts on “Dog Park Dos and Don’ts

  • April
    February 23, 2019 at 4:19 am

    Great advice — but don’t bring your female dog in heat is a no brainer, but I hope pet owners are SPAYING their females after their first heat! Please spay/neuter your pets to limit the pet population and for their good health. Spayed/neutered dogs also usually behave far better!

  • Kim
    February 23, 2019 at 8:43 am

    I love this article!! I especially liked the humor about peoples sometimes unwise behavior at dog parks. I really enjoyed it. Had lots of great tips!

    February 23, 2019 at 8:52 am

    I never knew about not bringing treats, but after reading what you wrote, it makes a lot of sense! Thanks!

  • Andrea New Chisari
    February 23, 2019 at 9:04 am

    It’s the idiots who bring toddlers that get to me. A 100lb dog running and playing can send a 30lb child flying, but some parents just don’t seem to get it.

    “Oh, my child is used to big dogs” one parent once said. Well, my 80lb dog is NOT used to toddlers! And it’s the DOG’S park!

  • Andrea Chisari
    February 23, 2019 at 9:07 am

    Would love to comment, but they just seem to disappear – never seem to post.

  • Elizabeth Rupe
    February 23, 2019 at 9:56 am

    First thing I don’t have a dog second thing is I don’t have license or a car so if I had a pet he’ll have to be happy living at home and really do you think I want more pets cause if I had a dog in heat the first place I’ll go with her is the animal clinic to get her fixed.

    • Annie
      February 23, 2019 at 3:21 pm

      What a strange comment??

  • Marilyn Long
    February 23, 2019 at 10:39 am

    My dogs have a fenced yard to play in but I have considered taking them to the local dog park just for the sake of variety and having other dogs to interact with. I appreciate the advice, all of which seemed quite sensible to me. Thanks.

  • Pamela
    February 23, 2019 at 12:52 pm

    To Elizabeth Rupe,

    If you have nothing of value to contribute, don’t. It makes you look really ignorant, does not help, and wastes readers’ time.

  • brook g
    February 23, 2019 at 5:22 pm

    Another biggie for the “do” area and for the “don’t” also

    DO control your dog around other people, no one likes a dog to jump on them or even worse to have a wet dog jump on them or shake the water off themself and onto a person.

  • Marie
    February 23, 2019 at 6:11 pm

    Spaying a dog in heat is dangerous and can be deadly. Wait until afterwards.

  • Linda
    February 23, 2019 at 9:37 pm

    Really Elizabeth Rupe? You don’t have a dog so why respond to this article at all since it obviously doesn’t apply to you.

  • Carol Lowe
    February 23, 2019 at 10:10 pm

    A friend had a mastiff that he often took to the local dog park. I don’t believe that there were separate areas for small or large dogs. A small dog decided to pick a fight with the mastiff, and the small dog’s owner put her hand down between the two fighting dogs. Needless to say, she got bitten, and she went to court to fight to get the mastiff put down. She won, the mastiff and his owner lost.
    Please, do not put your hand between two fighting dogs. This was not fair to the mastiff or the mastiff’s owner.

  • Shauna
    February 23, 2019 at 10:13 pm

    Another Don’t… Don’t bring an intact male.

  • Melanie Kaufman
    February 23, 2019 at 10:42 pm

    In Phx theres a wonderfull park were my furkid Teddybear goes she runs and plays, with her pupper friends for atleast 30 mins its a fantastic thing for them

  • Mary Stratton
    February 23, 2019 at 10:47 pm

    Most dog parks have rules in place. Please, follow them! They are in place for a reason. It is imperative that dog park “goers” study up on dog behavior and be willing to listen to those with more experience. If you choose not to follow the rules, don’t go to the dog park!

  • Pat Suit
    February 26, 2019 at 8:51 am

    Our dog park doesn’t seem to have ‘observing owners’ so we quit. However we have a place governed by excellent owners who offer a doggie daycare that is beyond compare! Big dogs with big dogs and small dogs with small dogs! Someone is always there to keep an eye out. Competence rules! So happy to have found them…they are awesome…Ohana!

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