Want to get in on the dog “paw-ty?” Then take your pooch to the dog park. Dog parks have become a standard apartment amenity in many communities and are a convenient option for busy pet parents.
Not only are dog parks a great place for pet parents and their canine companions to spend time together, they’re also perfect for getting your dog some exercise, running off pent-up energy, and working on those all-important socialization skills.
Keep in mind that to ensure safety and fun for all visitors, apartment dog parks have their own rules and etiquette, just like you’d find when using communal laundry rooms, apartment coworking spaces and practicing music in your apartment.
What is Dog Park Etiquette?
Dog parks are great places, but they’re not a lawless free-for-all where dogs can run wild, bully other dogs, start the dog equivalent of “Fight Club,” or pee on people’s pants legs.
Many places will have dog park rules and regulations posted on the fence or gate. But just as important are the unwritten rules, the dog park etiquette. To keep you and your dog safe and ensure that all visitors are having fun, be sensitive to other pets and their parents and adhere to dog park etiquette.
10 Dog Park Etiquette Tips
- Respect Local Dog Park Rules
- Keep an Eye on Your Dog
- Pick Up After Your Dog
- Leave Food at Home
- Respect On vs. Off-Leash Areas
- Stay Up to Date on Vaccines
- Don’t Parent Another Dog
- Be Prepared to Intervene if Playtime Gets too Rowdy
- Talk to Other Dog Owners
- Know When to Go
1. Respect Local Dog Park Rules
Each local government has their own dog park rules and measures. As mentioned earlier, these rules are usually posted on the gate or fence and should be adhered to at all times.
2. Keep an Eye on Your Dog
Yes, your greyhound is undoubtedly speedy and excited to be out of the house, but you need to make sure you know where your dog is at all times, especially in an off-leash dog park. This is not the time to catch up with friends or scroll through your phone.
3. Pick Up After Your Dog
Leaving puppy piles on the ground is a major dog park “faux-paw.” Not only is it disrespectful to other pets and their owners,, but it’s a health hazard. Contact with dog feces can spread parasites, worms and other diseases and illnesses. Don’t rely on the dog park to supply waste bags: bring your own so you can dispose of any waste quickly.
4. Leave Food at Home
It’s tempting to bring dog treats along to reward good behavior. However, handing out treats can lead to a deluge of dogs who want to get their share, causing competition and even fights. Plus, some dogs might have special treats or allergy and dietary needs that you aren’t aware of. Save the treats for after the dog park when your pet is safely at home.
5. Respect On vs. Off-Leash Areas
Off-leash dog parks are enchanting places where dogs can run free and unencumbered in an enclosed and safe space. But that magic is only in designated off-leash areas. Keep your dog on leash when entering and exiting the off-leash dog area and anywhere outside the dog park gate. Also: keep your leash handy in case you have to extract your dog quickly from a situation that has escalated.
6. Stay Up to Date on Vaccines
Make sure your dog is current on all their vaccines, and don’t bring a puppy that is less than six months old. They aren’t fully vaccinated yet. Similarly, if your dog is not neutered or spayed, or is in heat—skip the dog park. No one wants any accidental puppies or hormone-induced doggy disagreements.
7. Don’t Parent Another Dog
As tempting as it might be, don’t correct another dog’s behavior. Most pet owners do not take kindly to someone else disciplining their furry four-legged friends, even if intentions are good. If you find yourself wanting to step in, step away instead by leaving the dog park.
8. Be Prepared to Intervene if Playtime Gets Too Rowdy
You are responsible for your dog’s behavior at the dog park. If you know that your dog can become aggressive or overly energetic in chaotic environments, don’t take them to the dog park. Instead, seek out dog park alternatives like a private doggie play date, a doggie café, or a hiking trail. Making sure your dog is socialized before heading to a dog park is a good idea.
9. Talk to Other Dog Owners!
The dog park is a great place to make new human friends, so introduce yourself to other dog owners. After all, you’ve already got one thing in common. In addition, be prepared to listen to criticism from owners and don’t get defensive. Everyone wants the dog park to be a safe and positive place for humans and dogs alike, and other pet owners may see behaviors in your dog that you’ve become immune to.
10. Know When to Go
Dog parks aren’t for every dog right out of the gate. If you have a small dog, an older or timid dog, or a dog who gets overwhelmed easily, go at a time when the park is quieter—such as weeknights—and let your dog get used to the setting.
Get a New Leash on Life with Southern Management
Hopefully, this guide on dog park etiquette will help everyone interact while enjoying the many benefits that a dog park can provide for pets and their people.
Sniffing around for a pawsome new apartment? Let Southern Management help you find the next home for you and your good boy (or girl). Many of our apartment communities have private dog parks for the exclusive use of our residents and their furry friends, including Bayvue, Laurel Park and Laurelton Court, Residences at Pomona Park, Aquahart Manor and Summit Hills. They also feature open patio spaces, abundant grassy areas and plenty of nearby hiking trails to keep you and Fido or Fifi happy and healthy.