Dog Park Etiquette - The Do’s and Don’t Of Dog Parks

Taking your dog to the dog park is probably one of the most important moral duties for any pet parent. 

It allows your dog to see others of its kind, socialize with different breeds, and have an outright fantastic time. An afternoon out to the dog park is a great place for your dog to get the mental and physical exercise it needs to flourish and be a happy pup.

That being said, there are some do’s and don’ts that all dog owners should adhere to to ensure that everyone involved leaves the park happy and comes back for more playtime. 

Do's for Dog Owners at the Park

Here’s a short list of things to keep in mind when going to the park with your pup:

#1 Bring a Poop Scoop

If your dog does its business it becomes your business. You’ll be surprised how many people ignore the fact that their dog will probably need to poop at some point during the outing. And nobody likes stepping in dog poop…

So remember to bring along a poop scoop and some disposable poop bags. Cleaning up after your dog is a universal rule that all dog owners need to adhere to, especially when in a public space. 

#2 Control Your Dog 

Your pup might be a saint at home, but things can change pretty quickly when there are other characters (human and dog alike) involved.

Often it’s not your dog acting out, but other dogs in the area. Remaining in control of any situation makes the whole experience so much more enjoyable for everyone involved. If you have a medium or large-sized dog breed, investing in a tactical collar for these types of outings is probably a good idea.


Person holding dog by collar.


These collars have reinforced webbing and a slightly wider design, meaning that your dog won’t break free from your grip, even in a tense situation. 

#3 Pay Attention To Your Pup 

While meeting the man or woman of your dreams in your local dog park has all the nuances of a romantic chick flick, the reality is that your four-legged furry friend should be the most important person in the park.

Avoid getting distracted by other people, your cell phone, or other dogs. Your dog will enjoy itself more, knowing that you’re close and you’ll be more prepared to guide your dog through whatever situation arises.

#4 Abide By On -and Off-leash Rules

It can be quite annoying when dogs run freely in an area that has been allocated for leashed dogs only. So pay attention to the rules of each section of the park and keep your dog on its leash when needed.

Companies like Sparkpaws sell dog walk sets, which include a poop bag holder with a beautifully designed leash and collar, making it easier for pet parents by combining style with comfort.


Sparkpaw's Comfort Control Collar Set


Some areas will likewise be reserved for off-leash play. Don’t keep your pup leashed if it’s not needed, it could aggravate the other ‘loose dogs’ dogs and will surely frustrate yours, which could, in turn, cause unwanted tension in the dog park.

#5 Encourage Socialization

Dog parks are a great melting pot for dogs of different breeds and backgrounds.

If you spot a friendly pup, ask the owner if it plays well with others and if so, introduce your dog to a new friend. A socialized dog is easier to train, will be much more enjoyable at home, and become easier to take on holidays and other outings.

#6 Bring a Drinking Bowl

Most parks will have a water fountain or watering point of some sort. Take advantage of these provisions by bringing along a pop-up drinking bowl that your dog can use when it gets hot or tired.

#7 Use Your Words - Not Snacks

Reward your dog with verbal, positive reinforcement when he’s done something right. Do not bring snacks into the open area.

You simply don’t know how other dogs will react to food. They may become aggressive toward you or your dog, trying to get a bite of the food for themselves.

You can also give your dog something to eat before going to the park - This will prevent a hangry pup. 

Don'ts for Dog Owners at the Park

Now that you know what to do when going to the local dog park, you should also keep some of the don’ts in mind. Avoid the following 7 things to make your visit a success:


Energetic dogs playing in park


#1 Don’t Be A Busybody 

Allow your dog to socialize without excessive interference. Dogs need to learn to interact on their own terms.

Although you want to be attentive to what your dog is doing, you need to avoid interfering each time another pup decides to sniff your dog’s b…

Most dogs at the park will run and expend their pent-up energy, and as long as this behavior doesn’t break any basic rules, just let your dog be a dog.

#2 No Puppies

Don’t bring a puppy that’s yet to be vaccinated. This is to protect both your pup and other dogs from potential health risks.

Puppies younger than 12 weeks still need some of their shots and are generally still small in stature. So keep your puppy at home until it’s reached a certain age and size. That being said, you should also avoid bringing your child with you to the park.

Not all dogs play well with little kids, and they can act out when seeing small children.

#3 Don’t Bring a Female In Heat

If you’re looking to make a splash at the park, this isn’t the way to do it. A female in heat will create conflict and could spark aggression from dogs of all sizes and breeds.

So if you have a female dog, make sure it’s not in heat before bringing it to the park or any other public area where she might encounter other dogs. 

#4 Don’t Play Ball or Frisbee

Only play ball or frisbee in areas that have been allocated as such to prevent disrupting other dogs and their owners.

While some dogs will love joining in the fun, the game can be quite disruptive for pet parents trying to train their pups or enjoy a chilled afternoon at the park. And yet others can become aggressive with all the hype in the park.

So don’t think of the dog park as a place where you can just do what you want - respect others in the area.

#5 Don’t Use High Pitched or Loud Noises

We all get excited when seeing our favorite dog breed. Who can resist a cute Frenchie or English Bulldog? Me neither.

But you need to avoid using excessively high-pitched or loud screaming noises at the dog park, even if it means screaming internally when you see a beagle. High-pitched and loud noises can aggravate other dogs, leading to unwanted attention.


Dog with knit hat


#6 Don’t Correct Other Dogs

You might understand the ins and outs of the dog park, especially after reading this article - but some people and their dogs won’t.

Avoid taking it on yourself to correct other pups. It’s impolite and can lead to conflicts with other pet parents. If you notice that a dog is getting aggressive towards your pup or that their behavior is aggravating others, simply inform the owner and/or remove yourself from the situation.

Even small dogs have been known to bite in retaliation when strangers try to touch or correct them, so try to avoid that situation at all costs.

#7 Don’t Bring Food

This has been touched on before, but cannot be overstated. DO NOT BRING FOOD TO A DOG PARK.

Dogs can be incredibly defensive and competitive, especially when food is involved. At a dog park, you’ll encounter breeds of all shapes and sizes. Many dogs have been bred to have a specific demeanor or characteristic. Some show aggression much quicker than others.

So whether it’s human or dog food, keep it away from the dog park.

It Goes Without Saying

Know Your Dog

The probability of a hassle-free outing lies in understanding who your dog is in the company of their four-legged peers. 

Ask yourself: Is my dog the social butterfly of the canine world, or more of a lone wolf? 


Dogs wearing hoodies at the park


Recognizing your dog’s temperament and ensuring they are comfortable and capable of mingling well with others are the first steps to guaranteeing a positive experience at the park. 

This is not just about preventing scuffles; it's about ensuring your dog can enjoy each trip to the park and make it part of his routine.

Keep a Routine

Dogs cherish predictability just as much as we do, if not more. 

Establishing a routine for your visits to the dog park promotes a sense of security and expectation. Whether it's a brisk morning walk or a dusky evening frolic, regular outings can transform the dog park into a wonderland for your pooch. 

It's their playground, their social club, and with routine, it becomes a staple of joy in their lives. This predictable structure not only makes your dog feel safe but also helps in molding a well-adjusted, sociable pet who can't wait to see what adventures tomorrow will bring.

And Lastly - Respect The Rules

The rules and guidelines set forth by park authorities aren't just arbitrary hoops to jump through; they are the blueprint for a safe, enjoyable space for everyone. 

Adhering to these regulations is a badge of respect—not just for the park, but for all its patrons, both human and canine. 

Most dog parks will have rules posted on a fence or gate to ensure good behavior from everyone who uses the facilities. By following leash laws, cleaning up after your pet, and respecting designated play areas, you contribute to a culture of mutual care and responsibility.