Dog Park Etiquette: A Trainer’s Point of View

Dog Park Etiquette: A Trainer’s Point of View

Over the years at Happy-Go-Lucky we’ve seen countless dogs at play in our daycare (1999-2007) and classes. Our Certified Pet Dog Trainers have spent years observing dog behavior and interactions. From this experience we have put together some tips on determining if an off-leash dog park is right for your dog – and what you may want to work on to help them be polite, safe and comfortable at the dog park.

What we like about dog parks

  • give dogs a chance to socialize in safe environment
  • provide dogs with needed exercise
  • BUT…success of dog park depends on courteous and conscientious participants

What makes a good dog park dog?

  • a dog that has history of appropriate play with other dogs
  • a dog that is friendly toward all types of people
  • over age 5 months and spayed/neutered
  • strong bond with owner
  • some basic obedience skills, including solid recall
  • ability to share toys and food (no guarding)
  • some impulse control (no Tarzan behavior)
  • good physical health
  • demonstrated bite inhibition (gentle with teeth)

What makes a good dog park person?

  • strong bond with their dog
  • uses positive reinforcement to give their dog information and feedback
  • knowledge of appropriate play behavior
  • willingness to interrupt and interact with their dog while at the dog park
  • tolerance for different dogs’ play styles
  • comes prepared with water and poop bags to share
  • gives their dog other outlets for exercise and socialization besides the dog park
  • understands that 10 minutes of fun and/or one positive experience is better than 30 minutes of rude behavior and bullying (or getting bullied)

Some words of caution:

  • A dog park is not the place to see if your dog can “work out issues” (dog aggression, people aggression, etc.).
  • A dog park should be for the mental and physical health of the dog.
  • A dog park should not be the dog’s sole opportunity to exercise and socialize.