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Dog Park Etiquette

Updated on June 5, 2010
The Canine Corral at Hap Magee Park in Danville, CA.
The Canine Corral at Hap Magee Park in Danville, CA.

Dog parks are a great place to let your pooch run and play with her friends in a safe, enclosed space. For dogs that live with their families in apartments or condominiums with no yards, the chance to roll on a lawn or chase a Frisbee is the highlight of their day. Fights, injuries, and other problems are rare at our local dog park because owners follow these simple rules:

No food

Don’t bring people food into the park. The dogs can smell it immediately and will hound the person carrying it. This can be particularly frightening if a child has the food.

Don’t give someone else’s dog a doggie treat unless you get permission first. Some dogs have food allergies or on special diets.

Keep 'Em Separate

Separate dogs by weight. Generally dog parks have separate enclosures for dogs over and under 20 pounds. Do not bring a large dog into the small dog enclosure unless you are positive your dog is extremely gentle and careful around little dogs. Even then, you should ask permission of the small dog owners before you bring him into their area.

Greeting a new play pal.
Greeting a new play pal.

Leave Sick Dogs at Home

Don’t bring a sick dog to the park. This should be a no-brainer, but some people actually do this in an attempt to “cheer up” their dog.

Scoop the Poop

Clean up after your dog. Dog parks provide “poop scoops”, “mutt mitts”, “doggie bags” etc. for this purpose. Use them. Keep an eye on your dog until he has relieved himself and you have cleaned it up. Then you can sit down and start socializing with your human friends.

The gang takes a breather.
The gang takes a breather.


Keep an eye on your dog and watch for signs of aggression or too rough play. Dogs act differently at the dog park then they do at home because of the presence of new friends and the freedom of running off leash. Intervene if play starts to get too rough or if dogs start to overwhelm one particular dog.

Mind Manners

Correct your dog’s bad behavior. Just because she is at the park does not mean your dog can forget her manners and jump on people, bark incessantly, or ignore your commands.

Mind the Toys

If the park is fairly crowded owners should help prevent head-on collisions by throwing balls or Frisbees in the same direction at the same time. When a dog is chasing a toy he is focused on it and not watching where he is going. Collisions are more likely when dogs are running after balls in opposite directions. Don't throw chase toys at all if the park is crowded. It is too dangerous for the dogs and impolite to the humans.

Let your dog be a dog!


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    • e summer profile image

      e summer 7 years ago

      Great information. It would be nice if parents followed the same advice when taking their children to a park! Thanks!