dog park etiquette
Advice from a Professional Vet & Dog Trainer.
Dog park trips offer dog parents and their pets a great opportunity to bond, socialize, and run off some pent-up energy, but with all that fun comes responsibility. Dog park rules and regulations are there to ensure the safety and fun of all its visitors. No matter what type of dog park you go to, knowing and following its rules will help keep you and your dog safe.
Most dog parks are designed for dogs to play, run, and enjoy the company of other pups. But, as described by the American Kennel Club, they should always include a fenced-in area to keep dogs safely contained while off-leash. Additional amenities usually include some form of shade (or trees for shade), benches for pet parents to rest and supervise, and water for when pups get thirsty. A pooper-scooper station, complete with empty bags and a receptacle, help keep the park neat and under control as well.
It is important to practice safety on the trip to and from the park too. If you do not live within walking distance of your local dog park, be sure to follow proper puppy transportation rules. Use a dog carrier where appropriate, or invest in a specially made doggie seat belt.
Keep your dog safe during dog park trips doesn’t require you to be a helicopter parent and hover over them the entire time, but it also isn’t without some universal ground rules. For example, don’t bring puppies or young dogs under four months old to a dog park. Puppies this young still need to finish their vaccinations, and may be at risk for contracting illnesses from other dogs. Play with him at home until he’s old enough to play with the big dogs (literally!).
It goes without saying, but pay attention to your dog at all times. Dog park trips should be about time spent with your dog, not catching up with friends or hunched over your phone the entire time. Problems happen if pet parents aren’t paying attention to their dogs, and when they least expect it. Keep your dog safe by being a watchful pet parent.
Keep in mind you should give treats after dog park trips, not during the outing. It’s tempting to give your dog treats or feed him at the dog park, but wait until you get home to avoid competition between the other dogs he may interact with. And be sure to serve him something nutritious, like Hill’s® Science Diet® dog treats, once he gets home. These grain-free treats are a terrific way to reward a dog after a fun day at the park.