Want exercise and socialization opportunities for your dog and you? Visiting an off-leash area or dog park can be the perfect way. Dog parks are recreation areas, usually fenced, created especially for dogs to run, work out, and play with their guardians and other dogs off-leash.
Consideration of park rules will make the experience enjoyable for all. Dog park etiquette comes down to one basic idea: always be considerate of others.
- Supervise your dog’s play. Be attentive and proactive.
- Dogs must be in view at all times, and should not be left unattended. If your dog becomes aggressive or disruptive, remove him from the area.
- Always scoop your dog’s poop immediately. Help with “stray poop” and keeping the area clean of other litter, as well.
- Have a leash in hand at all times. Leash your dog while outside the designated off-leash area.
- If an area is designated for smaller dogs, please honor size restrictions.
- You are liable for any damage your dog may cause. For a first time visit, consider visiting the park without your dog to become familiar with the area and rules.
When to avoid an off-leash area
- If your dog is overly reactive or aggressive to unfamiliar dogs or people, easily over-stimulated, unresponsive to commands, fearful or timid.
- If your dog is in heat.
- If your dog is ill or has parasites.
- If your puppy is under four months old or has not received all of her vaccinations. Young puppies are vulnerable to trauma from other overbearing dogs, and are susceptible to diseases.
Appropriate dog behavior
- Your dog should not make uninvited contact with other humans in the park (ie. jumping up on, mouthing, mounting, or “crotch-nosing”).
- Dogs should know basic commands such as “come,” “sit,” and “leave it.” Guardians should be able to get immediate control over their dog if necessary.
- Barking should be kept at a reasonable level.
Appropriate human behavior
- Get your dog spayed or neutered. He or she will be calmer and more interested in play, rather than exhibiting unwanted behaviors.
- Observe park culture, practices and all posted park rules.
- If you are unsure how your dog will react to crowded conditions, return at a less crowded time.
- Limit use of toys or food treats to avoid dog-to-dog conflict.
- Apologize and be willing to leave if your dog has acted inappropriately, is getting overstimulated, or is not having a good time, or if other dogs are out of control.
- Be polite, even if another guardian or dog is not acting appropriately.
- Remember that not all dogs enjoy playing with every other dog. Be aware that dogs have different play styles.
- Avoid disciplining another person’s dog even if you must break up a fight. If necessary, leave the park with your dog.
- Keep in mind that dog parks may not be the best place for children. Not all dogs are child friendly and kids may get hurt with dogs’ exuberant play.
- Eliminate potential conflicts by not entering the gate area when someone else is there and quickly moving away from the entrance and the fence once you have entered. Some dogs feel threatened when leashed in the presence of unleashed dogs.