The Dog Park is a magical place for pups and their people. A place to let dogs be dogs. To sniff ‘n stroll, romp ‘n roll, or stretch their legs and open up like the place is a canine Autobahn. We love our off-leash dog parks, but they’re not a lawless free-for-all. For one, there are official dog park rules and regulations. But almost as important are the unwritten rules of dog parks—the things that will make your fellow pups and humans shake their heads in disappointment. So before you and your dog embarrass yourselves at your local dog park, read up on these unwritten rules to avoid dog park pet peeves.
1. Pay Attention
This is one among the most common laments: folks who bring their dog and then get distracted. If your dog just smashed into another dog and hurt them and you didn’t even notice, that’s a problem. And you want to make sure your dog isn’t getting injured or bullied, too! To avoid the hairy eyeball, keep your eye on Fido.
2. Mind Your Manners
Stay vigilant, and keep tabs on canine body language. No one wants to watch other dogs getting bullied and their owners not interceding. Watching a dog repeatedly try to hump another dog isn’t fun for anyone, especially the dog on the receiving end. It’s also important to keep big dogs outta the designated little-dog areas (and in some cases, vice-versa). Find our complete guide to dog park etiquette here!
3. Pick Up the Dang Poop
You have no excuses at the dog park. If you forget bags, guess what? There’s probably a bag station, and if not, there are a whole bunch of pup parents around who would happily help you out. And just because it’s in an inconvenient spot doesn’t mean you get to leave it there. Pick it up, folks!
4. Say No to Dog Toys and Treats
Unless your dog is happy to share her frisbee, leave it home—or at least hang at a less-populated part of the park. If another dog tries to get in on your game, please don’t get mad—the dog park is for everyone, after all. Treats are also a no-go, as other dogs might sniff them out and cause problems.
5. Watch Your Human Pups, Too
If you’ve gotta bring small children, please watch them and don’t let them run around. Dogs who herd will want to herd them, and big dogs can easily knock a small kid right the heck over—even if they’re just trying to say hi. It’s a dog park, y’all, not a playground.
6. Unspayed or Unneutered Dogs? Stay On Hormone Alert
Dog parks rules clearly state that you should NOT bring gals in heat. This doesn’t necessarily mean all dogs MUST be spayed/neutered; it does mean you should know thy intact dog, watch them ultra-carefully, and intercede if hormone-driven situations occur.
7. Let Loose
Some people like to practice training at the park, and may keep pup leashed. A good rule of paw here: Everyone on or everyone off. A mix of both leashed and unleashed dogs can mess with their natural approaches and reactions.
8. Don’t Be a Jerk About Dirt
Mud, water, and slobber are part of the deal. Dress for the occasion, and expect the potential of messy greetings or collateral damage.
Share these to-don’ts with newbie owners or as a gentle reminder to all. Have any unwritten rules of dog parks you would add? Drop ‘em in the comments.
Featured photo: Roberto Lopez
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