Dog Park Etiquette: The Do’s and Don’ts

 Luna and her friend Avery, a 6 month old Pit Bull mix. They love to run and play with each other.

Luna and her friend Avery, a 6-month-old Pit Bull mix. They love to run and play with each other.

Luna and I frequent the dog park daily. Sometimes twice a day depending on the weather and how long Luna has slept. We’re lucky enough to have a dog park in our complex complete with a doggy swimming pool, a great feature for the pups, especially during the Texas summers.

We’ve met all kinds of different people and dogs during our visits. For the most part, the dogs are very friendly and the owner’s know how to control them depending on the situations that occur in the park. Nothing irks me more, however, then when owner’s let their dog’s bad habits come out in the park without reprimanding or stopping them, i.e. mounting, ganging up on small dogs, attempting to ‘mark’ you and your pup as their territory, poo-ing without picking it up.

Headed to the dog park for the first time? Here’s what you should look out for so that you and your dog stay safe and have a great time at the park.

  • Dog-Bullies: One dog repeatedly pins another down, with no reciprocation. A dog does not back off when the other dog gives a high-pitched yelp. A dog continues to pursue another who is trying to end the play session by, such as, hiding behind your legs or jumping on a bench.
  • Owners with Food – Human or Dog: Although people who bring a whole bag of dog treats into the park to share with the other dogs most likely has the best of intentions, feeding someone else’s dog without asking permission is pretty bad etiquette. Not only could that dog be allergic to what you are feeding it, but it could also be food aggressive towards other dogs around the treats. Luna can sometimes get like this. I’ve been fortunate enough to have people ask me before they offer Luna a treat that way I can give them permission to feed her after knowing no other dog is around or paying attention. I always thank them afterwards for asking my permission since they don’t know Luna or her behavior all that well.
  • Body Language: Just like with humans, body language can tell you a lot about a dog and their mood at the time. Click here to learn what your dog’s body language means.
  • Fix first: For everyone’s sake, get your dog spayed or neutered! The other day I was in the park with a guy and his un-neutered dog. The dog attempted to mount Luna. Luckily, he did a good job at pushing the dog off of her and keeping it away. I asked him why he hadn’t got the dog fixed, and he replied with, “As a guy, I just can’t do that to him.” UM…….. NOT a good excuse. Not only is getting your dog fixed beneficial for their health (it can add years to a dog’s life and help prevent diseases), but it can prevent accidental pregnancies and fights. Ladies: How would you like it if a man came up and tried to hump you when you were trying to play? Men: How would you feel if another guy tried to hump you to prove he was more dominant? Yeah. That’s what I thought. Get your dogs fixed. There are too many strays out there, and male dogs will get along better.

Have some doggy tips? Share in the comments below! I’d love to hear them.

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6 comments

  1. I get way too protective and nervous at dog parks and so I had to stop going. My fear ends up making things worse. We have people that bring their big and wild country dogs to the park here. Why? They are clearly wild and free already! There was a doggie death at our park a few weeks ago because of a really irresponsible owner who then ran off with no apologies. He was later caught. The dog who died was sweet and elderly. In my opinion, there should be different zones or completely different parks for different types of dogs. I still can’t handle them. 🙂 I love your tips though. 🙂

    1. I get nervous sometimes, too, when I see unfamiliar dogs. I don’t go to public dog parks because of that reason. At least at the apartment park I know the owners, their dogs, and where I can find them if something happens. Thanks for reading.

  2. Great article! This one you would think is a no-brainer, but Watch your dog! I’ve had issues with random dogs being aggressive or misbehaving and their owner is nowhere to be found. I’m constantly watching my dogs to make sure they behave, so I find it disrespectful when other owners just walk away and don’t monitor their pet.

    1. Thank you, and this one is so important and so obviously! Great tip. I feel like sometimes I have to dog sit other people’s dogs while they chat it up on the phone. Thanks for reading.

  3. Our complex is very dog-friendly–the area in front of our apartment is not an “official” dog park as it’s not fenced in. (There are two of those in the complex, also.) But many of our neighbor dogs come out to play during the day, and it REALLY irks me when their owners don’t clean up after their pets. I’d love to post this on few doors. 😉

    1. Feel free to share and post away! Yes. I have to admit that on occasion, I have been known to leave the poo when I don’t have a bag or there’s no station close by. However, in this dog park there are literally 4 stations with bags. Don’t be lazy, people!

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