Dog Park Etiquette: The Basics

Summer may be winding down, but we still have plenty of nice weather left in Charlotte and plenty of time left to fit in more outdoor fun with your furry best friend. For many pet owners, dog parks offer a place for their pups to run free, socialize, and get their wiggles out. 

Just like in any other public space, there are rules of etiquette that should be observed in a dog park – both for you and your dog. Nobody wants to be that dog owner, so make sure you have a handle on proper dog park etiquette before you go.

Ready, Set, Go?

Not so fast. Before heading out to one of the many dog parks in and around Charlotte, it’s important to make sure your dog is prepared for that type of environment.

Under the following circumstances, it may be best to skip the park altogether:

  • Your dog is aggressive, fearful, anxious, or overly shy
  • Your dog is showing signs of illness or contagious disease
  • Your dog is a puppy under 4 months old or is unvaccinated
  • Your female dog is in heat
  • Your dog is not up to date on parasite protection (flea, tick, and heartworm preventive medications should be taken year-round).
  • Your dog doesn’t respond to basic obedience commands.

Dog Park Etiquette 101

You can help to create a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone at the park with these top principles of dog park etiquette:

Pay attention – A dog park can be a lot of fun, provided owners pay attention to their dogs. Your dog’s behavior is your responsibility, and you will need to intervene if you notice your dog acting aggressively, ganging up on another dog, running in a pack, or any other behavior that can quickly spiral out of control. Likewise, your dog needs your protection if they are being bullied or harassed while at the park.

Enforce the rules – If the park you’ve chosen has a small dog area, make sure your pup is where they belong based on their size. Once inside the fenced area, it’s important to remove your dog’s leash and keep it off until you leave. Leash aggression affects many dogs, and a leashed dog in an off-leash setting can pose a significant threat to themselves and others.

No goodies – Leave your dog’s toys and treats at home to prevent guarding, aggression, and begging behaviors from either your dog or other dogs.

Waste not – One of the core principles of dog park etiquette is picking up after your dog. Most parks have waste bags available, but always bring a couple of your own in case they’re out. Keeping dog parks clean not only looks and smells better, it reduces pollution and the risk for transmitting diseases and parasites.

Please don’t hesitate to contact your partners in pet care at Animal Medical Hospital & 24 Hour Urgent Care for more information. We are here for you and your pet!