Dog parks are becoming increasingly popular in the United States and in many other countries. They are specifically designed and created for dogs of all sizes to run around off-leash and socialize with other dogs in an enclosed area. There are even specific dog parks that are size specific so smaller dogs have a safer environment and will not get trampled by larger dogs. Learning more about dog parks will help dog owners determine whether it is suitable for their dog and to assure that they follow dog park etiquette.
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Things to Do Before Visiting a Dog Park
- Visit the veterinarian to get an update on your dog’s overall health.
- Update your dog’s vaccinations.
- Get approval from the veterinarian that your dog is healthy to play with other dogs.
- Train your dog to adhere to basic commands such as sit, come and stay.
- Address any behavioral issues your dog has with the veterinarian.
- Make sure your dog is spayed or neutered before going to the dog park.
20 Dog Park Rules
Most dog parks have a visible sign posted that lists the dog park rules that should be adhered to at all times. The most common dog park rules are listed below:
- Clean up after your dog by using your own supplies or the plastic bags provided at the park.
- Call your dog away from the gate while other dogs are entering or leaving.
- Pay close attention to your dog at all times.
- Be aware of your dog’s body language as he interacts with other dogs.
- Remove your dog from the park immediately if it looks like he is not getting along with other dogs.
- Stop your dog’s aggressive behavior towards humans and other dogs.
- Keep your dog at home if he is sick.
- Do not discipline someone else’s dog.
- Do not bring food with you.
- Do not provide treats to other people’s dogs.
- Dogs must be fully vaccinated before entering park.
- Dog owners must be in park within view of their dogs.
- Dog owners must have a leash in hand at all times.
- Leash your dog while entering and exiting the dog park.
- Keep female dogs that are in heat at home.
- Fill any hole your dog digs.
- Aggressive dogs do not belong in the dog park.
- Dogs should be trained to obey the come command.
- Only dogs are allowed in the dog park.
- Play nice.
Benefits of Taking Your Dog to a Dog Park
Since dogs are meant to live active lifestyles, playing and socializing at a dog park can provide benefits that will help your dog be well-balanced. Dogs were originally working dogs and assisted humans with many tasks such as herding other animals, hunting, protecting and controlling vermin.
Today, most domestic dogs are part of a human family and spend their days relaxing, eating, drinking plenty of water, playing and going outdoors for a walk. Your dog is wired for social interaction and playing with other dogs. Your dog will experience the following benefits when visiting a dog park:
- Improved Social Skills – Your dog will use his natural ability to communicate with other dogs by his sense of smell, touch, vision, hearing and touch. He will even communicate verbally through barks and other verbal queues. These social skills will make your dog more comfortable around other dogs.
- Physical Exercise – Your dog has the opportunity to break free from the limits of walking on a leash and run around at his leisure. As soon as you remove the leash your dog will most likely run around inspecting the surroundings, playing on obstacle courses that the park provides, wrestling playfully with other dogs and getting plenty of exercise.
- Improved Comfort Around People – Since other dog owners are also at the park, your dog will become familiar with meeting new humans as well as dogs. The human interaction will reduce the risk of your dog having social anxiety around strangers.
Inside the Dog Park
At times dog owners may feel overwhelmed with the activity that goes on in the dog park. Their sweet dog is in there alone frolicking with others and humans might not understand what some of the behavior is reflecting. Here are tips to help pet parents become familiar with canine behavior.
- Get to Know Your Dog – Be aware of your dog’s style of play. Observe whether he is a rough-and-tough type or if he exhibits a more gentle style of play. If your dog prefers to wrestle with others, he most-likely enjoys being rough with other dogs. This is good as long as he plays with other dogs that have a similar play style. If your dog prefers just randomly chasing other dogs and playing on the provided obstacles, he most likely prefers a minimal amount of touching from other dogs. If your dog has a gentle style of playing and is confronted with a tough player, you may want to remove your dog from the park in order to avoid physical aggression.
- Setting Limits – Your dog has the natural ability to communicate to other dogs the limits they are comfortable with. During this exchange of communication your dog may snap or snarl at other dogs to get their point across.
- Mounting – A dog mounting another dog is also referred to as humping. It is one dog communicating to the other that he is dominant. If your dog is humping other dogs, remove your dog from the park immediately. This will avoid a physical altercation between the two dogs involved.
- Aggression – Dogs that are aggressive will display this behavior immediately upon entering the dog park. If your dog is known as the bully at the dog park, there is a chance that your dog is overly aggressive towards other dogs and you should remove him from the dog park immediately.
Dogs aren’t the only ones that get to benefit from going to the dog park. Pet parents can enjoy themselves too. The dog park provides you with the chance to provide your dog with healthy social interaction as well as your own. Many times pet parents bond over stories related to their dogs and often times find that they make lifelong friends.