Dog Park Etiquette

What Is Proper Dog Park Etiquette?

The idea behind dog parks is wonderful; they’re safely fenced-in places for your dog to run and play with other dogs. But sometimes the experience is not what you expected, usually because someone hasn’t used good judgment. So, let’s think about what good dog park etiquette would be.

  1. shutterstock_235637188Only take your dog to the park if she loves it. If she is worried, anxious, easily upset, or aggressive, the dog park will make her worse.
  2. When you arrive, look around at the other dogs & people BEFORE you let your dog off leash. If someone has brought their large dog into the “small dogs only” section, your little dog might not be safe, for example. Look at the body language of the other dogs, before you let your dog off-leash.
  3. Watch your dog while he’s loose; don’t get caught up talking to people you meet & ignore what your own dog is doing. If he looks afraid, or doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself, go get him & leave.
  4. Also, if your dog is bullying another dog, go get him. All of the dogs in the park should be enjoying themselves; if your dog is going after another dog who is cowering or rolling over & showing his belly, it’s up to you to get your guy leashed back up.

For most people, it’s hard to read a dog’s body language. Even if you’ve had dogs all your life, most dogs accommodate us fairly successfully, so you may never have been forced to learn to read a dog. Luckily, there are excellent online resources; check these out! You’ll love them!

  • Zoom Room’s videos:
    • Dog Body Language
    • Dog Play Gestures Body Language
  • Association of Pet Dog Trainer (APDT) videos; this is a wonderful website
  • Whole Dog Journal Dog Body Language Dictionary of Stress
  • www.dogdecoder.com (they have a $3.99 app that’s excellent!)
  • Eileenanddogs Dog Body Language Collection