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Socialization and Dog Park Etiquette; Part 3

The third article in this series will address dog park etiquette for people and their dogs now that you have decided to use the dog park for your dog.

Arriving at the park.

Remember, that you are using the park at your own risk. You are responsible for damage or injury caused by your dog.

Young puppies, less than 16-20 weeks should not be at the dog park unless there is a specific puppy area.

Leave all food, training treats and special toys behind.

Don’t bring a female dog in heat.

All dogs should be up to date with required vaccinations and licensed according to local regulations.

Don’t bring a dog that is sick or may have a contagious condition.

Most parks will have a double gate entry system. Walk your dog into the holding area on leash. Remove any pinch or choke collars. Remove the leash in the holding area. Then open the inside gate and enter the park leash off. Don’t linger at the gate, quickly move away from the gate.

In the Park

Maintain visual contact with your dog at all times. Never leave your dog unattended. This is not a place to read, talk on your cell phone or have lunch or snacks.

Put your dog on leash and leave if your dog is aggressive or otherwise having a bad day. See the first article in this series about when to leave the park.

Always clean up after your dog and dispose of waste as per the parks waste management protocol. Some parks may have a carry out your own waste rule, others may have containers for disposal and some parks may have an onsite composting procedure.

Interrupt your dog from digging.


You cannot supervise your child and dog adequately at the dog park simultaneously.

The dog park is not a safe place for small children.

Small children may be confusing to dogs, their rapid and unexpected movements may be seen as prey. Not all dogs are well socialized around small children. Herding breeds may attempt to herd and nip at small children. Some dogs may become protective or territorial about children.

Dogs may naturally mouth, mount or body slam a child by accident during play. The dog may mistake a child as a playmate. The dog park environment may be overwhelming to a child.

Dog fights may occur endangering or scaring your child.

Observing you dog.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of dog behaviors, future articles will delve in to dog behavior. Appropriate dog play is mutual and reciprocal.

During play it is normal and appropriate for dogs to:

  • Bark

  • Growl

  • Wrestle

  • Chase

  • Mouth

  • Paw

  • Bow

  • Butt Swing

  • Play Tug

  • Mount (Some dogs may not tolerate mounting from another dog and the mounting dog should be willing to dismount if told by the other dog or by yourself.)

  • Yelp (The offending dog should understand this and back off)

Inappropriate or Red Flag Behaviors

More than one dog ganging up on another





Not letting a dog get up or get away

Body Slamming

Chasing without changing roles (I’ll chase and you chase me)

Cornering or crowding another dog.

Stress Signs



Trying to leave

Head lowering

Laid back ears

Raised hackles

Be cautious and skeptical about advise you may get from other people at the park, if you have concerns or questions consult with a qualified canine professional.

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