Dirty Pea-coat: Dog Park Etiquette

Dog parks are a great way to not only get your dog exercise, but also to allow your canine friend to socialize with other dogs and people. Like all public places, there are general rules of etiquette, both spoken and unspoken, which will make the experience better for everyone. What follows are MY general rules of dog park etiquette. They may look different than yours, but, these are the rules I like to observe and have observed.

I call them the Six Don'ts

Don’t Wear Nice Clothes

Seriously… the other day, I took my labradoodle to the park. This young woman, who’s there every morning, was wearing a tan pea coat and dress shoes. They were obviously work clothes and she wanted to keep them clean… yet she wore them to a dog park. Even if a dog doesn’t jump on you, you’re going to get dirty just being there. You're outdoors, you're standing in grass and mud. Dirt is inevitably going to be tracked onto your nice clothes.

When a dog (in this case, mine) inevitably does jump on you and gets a dirty paw print on your nice jacket, what right do you have to get mad? You’re the one wearing nice clothes to a dirty place surrounded by excited dogs who just want to lick your face and play with you.

To make matters worse, if said dog jumps on you and gets you dirty, don’t lean down and tell the dog you hate it. The dog is just being a dog… you’re the one not dressed properly for the occasion.

Don’t wear nice clothes, unless you want a dirty pea-coat.

Don’t Bring Children

Yes, children and dogs go hand in hand, but, there are two types of children that go to the dog park, and neither belongs.

The first type are the miscreants. These are the ones that climb on top of the dog jungle gyms; block the dogs from getting on them (and cry if they do), all the while yelling and screaming at the top of their lungs. There are places for children to play and yell… it’s called a human jungle gym.

The second type is the little ones, eye level with the dogs. Dogs generally love children and want to lick and play and wrestle with them. Often, in their attempts at loving and playing with them, they knock them over, resulting in crying children and angry parents. Again, this is a place where dogs play and run. They can’t be expected to avoid the children when they are in there.

I’m busy trying to make sure my dog doesn’t play to ruff with other dogs. I don’t have time to make sure it doesn’t eat your child, and I shouldn’t get cursed out if this happens. You brought a child to a place where a child doesn't belong.

me and Baby
me and Baby | Source
Baby and Bella around Christmas
Baby and Bella around Christmas | Source

Don’t Leave A Mess

When my dog poops, I pick up. I expect the same courtesy from other dog parents. I understand sometimes we lose sight of our dogs and don’t seem them, but I have often seen someone watch their dog squat and poo and then just leave it there. I don’t want to step in it, and I don’t want my dog—or any other dog—to eat it. Clean it up. It’s the right thing to do. Not only is it gross to step in, bacteria and virus can spread through fecal matter. I don't to step in poop, and i don't want my dog getting ill because it rolled around or ate your dogs poop. Parks are stocked with poops bags, and some even with pooper scoopers. There is no excuse.

Don’t Bring Aggressive Dogs.

I’m not talking about breeds… plenty of pit bulls are sweet and loving… I’m talking about individual dogs. I blame the parents. If your dog is nipping, growling, or biting other dogs, you leave. The dogs who play by the rules get to stay. Give your dog some training and then come back.

My dogs are generally well behaved, but, in the few instances where they have gotten too aggressive at the park, I give them time out. If this doesn’t solve the problem, I leave. Other dogs shouldn’t be forced to leave because I can’t control mine.

It seems often those with aggressive and ill-behaved dogs are the ones least likely to do the right thing and leave. If your dogs can’t play nice, they shouldn’t be there.

Furthermore, if your dog is prone to fornicating with other dogs, don’t bring it.

Dog ownership carries with it responsibilities, and this includes dog training. If you can't afford or don't have the knowledge to properly train your canine companion, then maybe you shouldn't have a dog. At the very least, don't bring it to the park.

Don’t Hoard Toys

Don’t bring a toy for your dog and not expect other dogs not to want to use it. If there is a special toy for your dog only, then leave it at home or for those times when the park is empty. Don’t yell at other dogs or their caretakers because their dog wants to play with that fun looking toy.

Don’t Bring Little Dogs

While I don’t have any problem with pit bulls and akitas, I get very annoyed by the yippy little dogs: the Chihuahuas, especially. If little dogs play with the big dogs, or, worse yet, pick fights with them. The little dog is likely to get hurt. Most parks have a separate section for little dogs. Keep your yippy little yapper there. I don’t want some little teeny tiny little dog nipping at my dog and/or humping my leg.

See you at the park!

My Poetry collection

All rights Reserved. Copyright Justin W. Price, March 19, 2012.

Thanks for Reading.





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Comments 48 comments

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 3 years ago from Juneau, Alaska Author


thanks for stopping by. Baby was actually rather ambivalent about the park. She could have taken it or left it. But, if I cant think of some good stories, I'll certainly add them here. Thanks for revisting!

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AudraLeigh 4 years ago

So, I am writing a comment here again. I would love you to do a follow up; a tribute to your dear puppy. You mentioned your beloved pet here many times. It would be wonderful to see you write about it related to a day at the doggy park :)

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PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Juneau, Alaska Author

Thanks so much for voting and commenting! How fortunate to have not only four dogs, but all that property! your dogs are well loved and cared for!

Drtruthman profile image

Drtruthman 4 years ago from Harlingen, Texas

Great Hub. We have 4 dogs. But live on an acre of land so the dogs have plenty of room but we do take them on occasion to a nearby dog park and what a hoot!! The dogs are so funny. Enjoyed the Hub. Voted UP all across. Lee

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PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Juneau, Alaska Author

Thanks Sunnie! How fortunate you are to live int he country. do you have dogs?

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PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Juneau, Alaska Author

Mary, my park actually has three sections. A winter use area, a spring and summer use area for large dogs and a spring/summer use area for little dogs. makes it easier!

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Sunnie Day 4 years ago

Hi Justin,

There is a walking trail but not so much a dog park but there are rules for dogs and no one follows them. I have never been to a dog park..I bet it would be fun and interesting..always been sort of out in the country. Great hub and can understand some of these concerns.

Happy Sunday


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

We finally got a dog park near where I live. I take my little dog, but she is SO shy she just sits by my feet and won't play. I go just to talk to the other dog owners. They built is so that there is a small dog area and a large dog area, so that helps.

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Juneau, Alaska Author

Nell, it is very intriguing to me how ill equipped some epople are to pet ownership. Cleaning up after your dog is easy and considerate.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

Hi, I know just what you mean! there was a dog in the small park near me the other day, and it was pooping everywhere and the owner, a woman just totally ignored it! the trouble was there was a small child playing in the grass, I shuddered! yuck!

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Juneau, Alaska Author

Moon, thanks for sharing your story. Most dog parks forbid the use of alcohol and aggressive dogs, but, i suppose, if you don't know how to read, that doesn't matter. We had an incident several months ago where a dog bit a kid. Now, the kid was kinda being stupid and taunting the dog, but the dog was obviously aggressive and owner was ill equipped to handle it, but, still, biting kids is a big deal. the owner refused to leave. the cops came and fined him. I was really worried they'd have the dog put down, but the kids parents didn't want that to happen. It's not the dogs fault.

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PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Juneau, Alaska Author

Thanks Pickles! I hope so! The park is fun. It was snowing there today, and Bella loves the snow.

moonfroth profile image

moonfroth 4 years ago from Rural BC (Canada) & N of Puerto Vallarta (Mexico)

Useful Hub Justin--esp. for those new to the dog park concept. Great "'don'ts!" I'd add a 7th combo don't": "Don't smoke and drink at the dog park!" I've been once, with a friend and her pit bull. These two louts released their undisciplined dogs, proceeded to smoke and crack a couple of cans of beer and quickly became quite obnoxious. They acted as though they were 50 miles in the bush! People spoke to them, they suggested we all perform sexually impossible acts upon ourselves, and then their undisciplined dogs got into the melee. So did the pit bull. Guess how /that/ contest ended up? The cops came. Good grief! what a bloody mess. I suspect there was minimal correlation between the lots and the dog park--bet they've got that behavior down pat wherever they go. Nonetheless, booze, smoke, kids, and dogs are /not/ a good combination.

picklesandrufus profile image

picklesandrufus 4 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

Good, useful hub. I don't take my dogs to a park, but if I ever do, I will remember your words. thanks!

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Juneau, Alaska Author

Julinanna... I agree... though, even with a yard, the dog park can provide a new experience and new friends for your dog!

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AEvans 4 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

I have never actually taken my dogs to a dog park, but that is only because we have a yard. Anyone who wears a nice peacoat and shoes to a dog park, deserves to get pawed. lolo! And I believe wherever a person takes there pet and they doo-doo they should honestly clean up the poo. Nice one! Voted up and shared. :)

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Juneau, Alaska Author

Cindi... dog parks are great for people like me who live in an apartment and have a dog with a crazy amount of energy. we take her to the dog park in the AM and then go on a couple walks during the day.

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Juneau, Alaska Author

Ruchira... one would certainly think this was common sense. Turns out common sense is different for different people...

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PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Juneau, Alaska Author

I agree, Aurelio. Thank you!

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Juneau, Alaska Author

Dah... I'm sure if you do a google search you'll find one. I would advise, since your dog needs socializing, go early in the morning when there are fewer dogs. Don't keep your dog leashed, but keep the leash handy and let other owners know that your dog is undergoing training. Let me know how it goes!

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Juneau, Alaska Author

TENKAY, you should find someone to build a dog park in the Phillipines!

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Juneau, Alaska Author

Thomas, if I can make you slightly more annoyed by things in life, then I have done my job :-)

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PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Juneau, Alaska Author

onlooker.. most dogs need more exercise then we can give them. the dog park is a great way to give them exercise, and tire them out.

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Juneau, Alaska Author

Thanks Hub for the comments and the share!

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Juneau, Alaska Author

Thanks Alicia. Me too. My apartment has a $250 fine for owners who don't clean up after their dogs, but I don't think they ever enforce it. I think my wife and I are the only ones who actually clean up!

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Juneau, Alaska Author

Kelly... it is true about little dogs. They tend to be the worst, even when they are cute. Aggressive dogs is the most dangerous. I've seen a lot of owners who watch their dog attack other dogs and then wait for the other owner to leave. If your dog picks a fight, you should leave. Pure and simple.

Thanks for reading. How was the zoo? I love the zoo!

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Juneau, Alaska Author

Aride... I don't understand anyone that can be mean to animals...especially someone who owns one. She wasn't at the park today, but if she sends me a bill for dry cleaning, well, she won't be getting her clothes dry cleaned... Bratty is pretty accurate

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Juneau, Alaska Author

Brupie... thanks for commenting. I tend to only notice children when their out of place or misbehaving. Perhaps that's why that's my only experience :-) Thanks for reading and commenting. Cute profile pic!

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Juneau, Alaska Author

Thank you so much Deborah!

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Juneau, Alaska Author

Tammy, just like with kids, people can get frustrated with their pets.. I know I do. But, when it's an all the time thing, it's no bueno!

Thanks for reading. I'm glad you enjoyed this!

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Juneau, Alaska Author

Audrey... me too. And it's impossible for me to relax if I'm worried a child might topple over... even though I'm not the biggest fan of children in public

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Juneau, Alaska Author

Thanks Audra. I'm glad I could share and revive good memories for ya! I am also pleased when I can turn a snarky rant into a useful hub :-)

cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

For all these reasons, actually, I don't generally go to the dog park. You bring to light some great etiquette tips all dog owners should know before heading to the park. Voted up and across.

Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

Justin, I am not a animal lover but, I agree the above don't and do's are common sense.

Voted up as useful and interesting for all who take their pets out to the dog park.

alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

I don't have a dog, but if I did, my favorite tip here would be "Don't Bring Aggressive Dogs." We don't want them making it miserable for other pets and people. Voting this Up and Useful.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I've never been to a dog park because we do not have any of them near where I live.They seem like a good idea as I have a dog that needs socializing.

TENKAY profile image

TENKAY 4 years ago from Philippines

I often take my dogs to play in the park, not a dog park though. But I see to it nobody gets annoyed with my pets. I warn kids not to play with my male shih tzu since he is a bit aggressive. I unleash my dogs only when there are no kids around.

We have no dog parks here in the Philippines but how I wish we have, it would be such fun to interact with other dog lovers.

Love your hub. voted up.

ThoughtSandwiches profile image

ThoughtSandwiches 4 years ago from Reno, Nevada


Excellent list! I agree with stuff I didn't even really notice annoying me until you pointed them out!

Great Job! Up and Sharing!


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onlooker 4 years ago

This hub has been useful, funny and interesting, thank you! People whine about the wrong things at the wrong time because of their own stupidity. Taking the dogs out everyday is a must. I hear you!

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HubTub 4 years ago

Excellent compilation on the do's and don'ts of dog park etiquette. It just makes sense! Voted up, across the board, and SHARING!

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

These are great rules of dog park etiquette, PDX! My favorite are the rules which say that pet owners need to clean up their dog's poop, and they also need to be prepared for toys to be shared!

RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Hey PDX - the girl was being an idiot. I'm taking my kids to the Zoo tomorrow and I guarantee you I'll be wearing play clothes! Lol.

I do not take my dogs to the dog parks because they are small dogs who think they are big dogs! While they play well with each other - they try to be territorial with large dogs. My vet just said that people who are so afraid of large dogs because of their size - have it all wrong - it's the little ones you have to watch out for!

I voted that bringing the aggressive dogs is worse - that is a potential injury waiting to happen. I take my dogs to a park where kids play and there's a pond....not many dogs but they are allowed.

Ardie profile image

Ardie 4 years ago from Neverland

Im lucky I am on a 15 acre farm so my dog never goes out on a leash and he just runs and runs. BUT if I had to go to the dog park I would get mad at people who also visit the dog park and expect the dogs not to act like dogs! How dare that bratty lady be so mean. I love the pics of your pups :)

Brupie profile image

Brupie 4 years ago

I'm sorry that you've only experienced two types of children at the dog park. I've seen plenty of children that are not a nuisance and are mature enough physically and emotionally to be there. I certainly have seen children behaving inappropriately at the park, but I can say the same about adults.

Deborah Brooks profile image

Deborah Brooks 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

I use to help my friend walk her three dogs to the dog park and I love it. I love all the dogs and you are right about all the dos and donts. great hub

voted up


tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

Wow.. I have seen people mistreat their dogs like that.. for walking too slow or sniffing to long. It really makes me wonder why they have a dog when they are clearly so frustrated with it. I have never been to a dog park but I can just imagine what kinds of people are there. Great hub and kudos to you for taking a stand.

AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

We don't spend as much time in dog parks as we used to. My Sasha is 9 now and a bit gimpy (2 tplos), but we used to go all the time--it always amazed when when people would bring their toddlers--it was like asking for an injury to happen

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iamaudraleigh 4 years ago

Justin, my sister works in NYC and lives in Hoboken, NJ where there are many dog parks. It is one of my favorite things to see while visiting!

I understand all of your grievances. I like how you wrote this hub and why.

Voted it up because it helped make my day into a better one...brought me good memories :)

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