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Dog Park Etiquette

Updated on August 17, 2014

Let's Go to the Dog Park

Dog Parks may be about the best invention ever. A fenced dog park means the chance to run off the leash and meet other dogs. The humans get a chance to socialize, too. And, any patch of land that actually labels itself as place for dogs has to be the happiest place on earth! But, before we get carried away at the doggy equivalent to Disneyland, there are things to keep in mind.

How often do you go to the dog park?

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c. bossypants

Good Dog!

Can We Dress You Up and Take You Out?

All dog parks have rules. Some parks have them posted and some rely on users' common sense (the wisdom of which is open to debate). To be a welcomed guest at your local dog park, make sure you mind your manners.

All dogs visiting dog parks need to be healthy and current on required vaccinations, including rabies. If you frequent dog parks, you may want to ask your veterinarian about a Bordatella (Kennel Cough) shot. Like the flu shot, the Bordatella vaccine may not protect your dog from all strains of Kennel Cough, but will help prevent the illness. Many dog parks feature natural vegetation -- along with the creepy crawlers who live among the grasses. Keep up to date on flea and tick treatments.

While dog parks are a great place to socialize your dog, it's your responsibility to know how your dog reacts around other dogs and people. On a first visit, you may want to keep your dog on a leash to maintain more control, but keep in mind other dogs will still run up to your dog. If you've any doubts at all about your dog's aggressive tendencies, the dog park is no place for your dog.

Intact dogs (those who haven't been spayed or neutered) may not be permitted in some parks at any time. And, naturally, dogs in heat do not belong in a dog park.

Never leave your dog unattended. Your dog should always be within your sight, for her safety and for the safety of others in the park.

Dog Park Essentials

Collar with ID tag

Permit (if required)



Water bowl

Pick up bags


Tennis balls (optional)

c. bossypants
c. bossypants

Dog Park Amenities

Not All Dog Parks are Created Equal

Dog park features vary. Some parks are enclosed while others are only partially fenced. Some parks include ponds or border a lake and you'll want to control your dog unless you've prepared for a wet ride home.

There may be an area exclusively for small breeds and puppies, or a training ring. Some parks even offer agility courses.

Not all parks have water available, so be prepared with your own jug and a bowl to help your dog cool off and rehydrate. Even if you research the park before your visit, it's best to come prepared for any circumstance.

c. bossypants
c. bossypants

Dog Park Permits

Is the Welcome Mat Really Out?

Many dog parks are open to the public and ask only that you use common sense when using the park. But there are parks that require permits or limit use to local residents. Typically, such restrictions are clearly posted, but if in doubt, call the local village hall and inquire about the dog park's accessibility.

Violators may be subject to fines, so it's worth it to check before you unsnap that leash.


Dog Park Fees

The Price of (Unleashed) Freedom

Many dog parks are free for locals and visitors alike. But there are parks that charge fees to use the park. In most cases, the fee is in the form of an annual membership which can make it difficult for visitors to take advantage of dog parks while traveling. (Wisconsin is one exception. Many county and state parks offer visitors the option to purchase a permit for the day by leaving payment in a lock box and taking a receipt.) In some communities, fees for non-residents may be considerably higher than what residents pay. If a fee is required, park personnel may patrol the park and evict and fine offenders. In some communities, local users may report unauthorized visitors as well, so it's best to play by the dog park's rules.

Before you start growling about the whole fee issue, keep in mind that dog parks require maintenance. While tax dollars may pay for some or all of the costs associated with keeping the park usable, fees may help defray the expense. Requiring payment may also serve to deter abuse. Sadly, it's not unheard of for irresponsible owners to drop their dogs at a fenced park and leave them unsupervised in lieu of securing doggie daycare. Requiring a fee and a permit with proof of vaccinations and a signed use agreement attach a value to the privilege of using the park.

What Do You Think of Dog Park Fees? - Should We Pay for the Privilege?

Fees help pay for dog park maintenance, making them sustainable and encouraging more communities to provide these wonderful pooch playgrounds. But, some memberships can be cost prohibitive and exclusionary.

What do you think? Should dog parks charge fees?

Yes. A reasonable fee isn't a problem.

Yes. A reasonable fee isn't a problem.

Submit a Comment

  • Anthony Godinho 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    I think it's a good thing for every one who uses the park to contribute as responsibility! :)

  • ChristyZ 4 years ago

    Free is always better but if I have to pay, I'll do it for my dog:)

  • SteveKaye 4 years ago

    Paying a fee is okay.

  • anonymous 5 years ago

    Free is always good, but a small fee to help with maintaining it a good thing.

  • Jereme Causing 5 years ago from Philippines

    Some parks in the Philippines charges a minimum maintenance fee . I don't think its a problem

  • Fay Favored 5 years ago from USA

    I would rather not have to pay anything, but much prefer a clean park for my pet. Some people don't clean up after their dog, and so it makes sense to pay someone.

  • Pam Irie 5 years ago from Land of Aloha

    I would pay if it helps keep the dog park maintained. It's a good thing. :)

  • Showpup LM 5 years ago

    If the fees are going towards improving the park and making sure it is a safe place to be.

  • anonymous 6 years ago

    I guess a reasonable fee is fair for keeping up with the poop that isn't always gotten up by owners.

  • Pam Irie 6 years ago from Land of Aloha

    Fees, along with pet owners own participation in picking up after their pets, is a good thing in my opinion.

  • Angela F 6 years ago from Seattle, WA

    I'd prefer to see them always free, however, if it were a relatively inexpensive fee that helped offset maintenance,

No. I think dog parks should be free, just like parks for kids are.

Submit a Comment

  • BrickExpert 4 years ago

    Ideally, dog parks should be free. But sometimes fees are necessary.

  • Sage62 5 years ago

    We don't have dog parks as such in the UK - dogs are usually allowed in any open public space albeit on/off lead varies and they are never allowed in fenced children's play areas. There should only be a chargefor dog parks if parents pay for the upkeep of the children's areas - otherwise dog owners should not have to pay for dog parks.

    However, I am all for fining irrisponsible dog owners who don't "pick up" after their pet or who let their dogs terrorise other dogs/people!

  • Joan Haines 6 years ago

    Dog parks are all about freedom. I don't own a dog, yet I am happy to have some of my taxes go toward a good dog park.

  • ltraider 6 years ago

    any green space or park should be offered to citizens and no charge.

  • Joyce T. Mann 6 years ago from Bucks County, Pennsylvania USA

    No. Parks for children are free. And once our adult kids leave home, don't our pets become our children? Also, Pennsylvania requires all dogs to be licensed, even if they just sit in your lap of luxury all day.

  • gottaloveit2 6 years ago

    I pay plenty in Montgomery County, Md for taxes to upkeep playgrounds, hiking trails and water features. I see NO reason why my taxes shouldn't help keep dogs happy. If I have to pay to exercise my dog, people with kids should pay to use the playground...

  • Mistalina 6 years ago

    As long as it is considered a public park, then fees should not apply. I suspect that those who use such a park the most would be willing to make donations, especially if a community group conducted fundraisers to help contribute to maintenance costs.

  • jseven lm 6 years ago

    No, they get enough money from all the darn taxes for everything else!

  • Snakesmom 6 years ago

    They should be free for all, especially if they are built by community donations.

  • Peggy Hazelwood 6 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

    If I had a dog, I'd want dog parks to be free! I'm sure Nattie is a good dog park user!

Good Times at the Dog Park - Don't Forget to Take Your Camera to the Dog Park!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
There's nothing quite as satisfying as a good dog park run.Benches are nice for a rest break.Snow day!A pile of mulch is a pooch jungle gym.Getting dirty at the dog park.
There's nothing quite as satisfying as a good dog park run.
There's nothing quite as satisfying as a good dog park run.
Benches are nice for a rest break.
Benches are nice for a rest break.
Snow day!
Snow day!
A pile of mulch is a pooch jungle gym.
A pile of mulch is a pooch jungle gym.
Getting dirty at the dog park.
Getting dirty at the dog park.
c. bossypants
c. bossypants

Leave Only Pawprints

If You (or Someone You Know) Drops It, Pick It Up

There is just no delicate way to say this. A dog park is not one big pooch potty. You have a responsibility to pick up after your dog. It doesn't matter what the others do or what you pass on the walking trail. You are better than that. Pick it up.

Some dog parks provide waste bags but come prepared in case there aren't any. And, if the park lacks the courtesy of a trash can, you will have to take your filled bag with you and dispose of it back at home. (An empty sealable paint bucket in the trunk of your car is a good dog park accessory.)

Plenty of city parks now prohibit dogs because owners didn't pick up. It would be a shame if your favorite dog park closed for the same reason.


by bossypants

All photos in this lens, with the exception of ads and links, were taken by bossypants. Please don't copy or use the photos or contents of this page without permission. Photos may be pinned or used with attribution and a back link to this page.

Do you want to go to the dog park? - What do you like best about your dog park?

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    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 4 years ago

      Congratulations on your purple star! This article is sure to help others who are uncertain of dog park etiquette. I used to volunteer at the park and have been known to spend, oh, 4 or 5 hours there but someone who shall remain nameless (Killian!) is an idiot around strange dogs so that stopped that. At least I recognized it was MY dog being the problem and not everyone else's dog....I frequently have 12 dogs in my own backyard these days though so I have my own dog park. Hugs and kisses to you and Nattie.

    • profile image

      Ruthi 4 years ago

      Fortunately I have lived in a rural area with plenty of outdoor play space for my dogs but if I did not I would certainly enjoy taking my dog to a dog park.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 4 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I can never see too many pictures of Nattie enjoying a day at the dog park! Congratulations on your purple star. Well deserved!

    • GramaBarb profile image

      GramaBarb 4 years ago from Vancouver

      I don't have a dog right now but I still love to go to the dog park to watch the dogs play!

    • BrickExpert profile image

      BrickExpert 4 years ago

      There's a great dog park nearby that has a little lake that the dogs can splash around and swim in!

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      Your dog is really beautiful. Thank you for publishing this lens. I enjoyed looking at the photos.

    • jeremecausing profile image

      Jereme Causing 5 years ago from Philippines

      This is a very nice lens :) Dog parks are also a good place to make new friends

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 5 years ago from USA

      We don't have dog parks, but there are a few that permit you to bring your pet if you clean up after it. They still need to be on a leash, because they are not fenced in areas.

    • sheriangell profile image

      sheriangell 5 years ago

      Sadly my dogs are such homebodies when I take them to the dog park they either look confused while wandering around, or stand by the gate looking at me as if to say "OK enough, let's get out of here...". Lesson here is it's important to socialize your dogs so they can mingle out in the world! Angel blessed today!

    • JJNW profile image

      JJNW 5 years ago from USA

      I do! Very sweet and good advice. ***Blessed by a SquidAngel***

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Returning with a blessing on your dog park etiquette and especially on your beautiful model, Nattie....sweetness!

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 5 years ago

      I keep planning on going to a doggie park... I really must take my little girl she would love it I know. THUMBS UP LENS and ANGEL BLESSED!

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 5 years ago from Land of Aloha

      The nearest dog park to us is too far away. Our dog goes to the people/dog park with appropriate pooper scooper equipment, of course. :)

    • Showpup LM profile image

      Showpup LM 5 years ago

      I'd like to go and observe one just because I enjoy reading dog communication and pack mentalities.

    • Monika Weise profile image

      Monika Weise 6 years ago from Indianapolis, IN USA

      I'm signing up to join a dog park shortly. Thanks for the information in this lens.

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 6 years ago

      I love the concept of freedom for dogs. Go, dog parks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I don't even have a dog right now but you have me wanting to go to a dog park to enjoy the wonderful fun dogs and owners can experience there.

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 6 years ago from Concord VA

      They are trying to get a dog park in nearby Lynchburg VA. Thanks for the etiquette tips!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I think dog park etiquettes, rules and guidelines are OK but taxes are not all that OK. Soon we will have to pay tax on the air we breathe.

    • bossypants profile image

      bossypants 6 years ago from America's Dairyland

      @ShariBerry: I agree, TwoDog, that there is always a risk and care is needed. We always consider it great fortune to be at an empty dog park! I think your advice is well considered and thank you for commenting!

    • ShariBerry profile image

      Sharon Berry 6 years ago from Michigan

      I don't think I would bring my boys to a dog park. Even though we think of our pets as family members they are still dogs and dogs around other dogs can behave differently. My normally friendly, Joey might get aggressive with another animal and I would not want either dog to get hurt.

    • bossypants profile image

      bossypants 6 years ago from America's Dairyland

      @Virginia Allain: I've seen dog owners step up and offer their phone number if their usually nice dog goes after another dog. If not, other dog park users will copy license plate numbers and pursue rule abusers, including aggressive dogs. Limiting use by requiring permits (and fees) is one way communities try to control misuse, too. But, just as a walk in any park, or your own neighborhood -- there are risks.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      I don't have a dog, but wondered about health issues with a dog park. What if one of the dogs is sickly? What do you do if another dog is aggressive?

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 6 years ago

      I used to volunteer at the local dog park as I was there for HOURS at a time, I cleaned up all the time, supervised the humans more than the dogs and finally gave up. There's too many people around where I live who have NO clue about how to handle a dog at the local dog parks.

    • Mistalina profile image

      Mistalina 6 years ago

      A wonderful lens! This makes me look forward to the dog park they plan to create in my community.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 6 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Nice to see one of my favorite dogs muggin' it up at the dog park!

    • ChrissLJ profile image

      ChrissLJ 6 years ago

      My baby girls love going to the dog park. I'm lucky that my town has 4 dog parks and allows dogs in all the people parks (so long as that they are leashed). Unfortunately, not all dog parents practice common sense. I've seen people bring young puppies even though one should never take them to the park before the age of 4 months (and ideally 6 months).

    • profile image

      jseven lm 6 years ago

      Really nice lens and pics of your beautiful baby! High 5 and good job!

    • Snakesmom profile image

      Snakesmom 6 years ago

      We just found out they are going to build a dog park right near our neighborhood. :) What a great lens!

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Sarah and I no longer go to the Dog Park because she is now deaf and going blind. She feels more secure at home. But I love your lens, you did a wonderful job on it.