How to Go to A Dog Park and Have Fun (Without Being a Jerk)

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Going to the dog park can be a great way for your dog to be socialized and get some exercise.  With that being said, there are some things that you should not do when you go to the dog park to have fun without being a jerk.  No one likes that dog that attacks everyone or the owner that never sets their phone down.  So what can be done? 

A simple way to go to a dog park and have fun without being a jerk is to follow some basic dog park etiquette.  There are spoken and unspoken rules at the dog park and if you are a newbie then you may not know some of them.  Don’t worry, we will help you. 

  • Don’t bring a sick dog
  • Don’t let your dog mob other dogs
  • Don’t let your dog steal toys
  • Don’t bring an aggressive dog
  • Don’t bring unvaccinated dogs
  • Don’t ignore your dog
  • Don’t argue with the other owners

What is Dog Park Etiquette

Dog park etiquette is the basic makeup of rules, spoken and unspoken, and acceptable behaviors for those visiting the dog park.  It is really important that you know the etiquette so you and your dog can have a great day at the dog park without earning the scorn of the other visitors. 

While this list is not comprehensive it will certainly get you started on the right path.  If you follow these rules and avoid unwanted behaviors then you should have a great time and not be a jerk. 

Don’t Bring a Sick Dog

Seriously just don’t.  If your dog is even just acting a little “off” do not bring them to the dog park.  You wouldn’t want someone bringing their sick child to the park to spread their unknown illness to the other children so don’t do it at the dog park.  Just like people, symptoms could start out small with dogs.  Maybe you have a suspicion your dog is sick, that is enough to stay home.

You should especially not bring your dog if you know they are sick. This is just polite and considerate of the other dog park visitors. 

Don’t Let Your Dog Mob Other Dogs

We know how excited some dogs can get when another dog enters the park.  As tempting as it may be to look the other way and let your dog rush the newcomer, don’t do that.  It isn’t polite and it goes against dog park etiquette.  

You wouldn’t want your dog to be mobbed when he first entered the gate so call your dog back to you until the other pup is settled and ready for introductions.  Another dog having a negative experience at a park because of an overzealous dog is really just not okay and it isn’t fun for anybody. 

Don’t Let Your Dog Steal Toys

Dog parks are a great place to play fetch or tug of war with your dog.  The key is to use the toys you brought and not someone else’s.  Dogs don’t really understand that the toy belongs to another dog because they don’t understand ownership in the terms that we do.  But they do know that it doesn’t belong to them. 

You, as the owner, also know that the toy your dog is trotting around with is not theirs.  Taking the toy away from your dog and giving it back to the other dog’s owner is the right thing to do.  Don’t just let your dog get away with stealing toys.  People won’t like you or your dog and you will be the dog park jerk.  

Don’t Bring an Aggressive Dog

This really should go without saying but sadly too many people bring aggressive dogs to dog parks and it almost always ends with injury or even a smaller dog dying.  This is just not okay.  As owners, we know if our dog is aggressive to either humans or other dogs.  If they are or if you have any doubts then do not go to the dog park. 

You wouldn’t want your dog attacked by another dog so don’t put someone else’s dog at risk either. 

Don’t Bring Unvaccinated Dogs

We all have different opinions about vaccinations in both dogs and people.  However, the written rules of the dog park insist that all dogs are current on their vaccinations.  Don’t take your dog to the dog park just to spread distemper or kennel cough to other unsuspecting pooches.  If you don’t want to vaccinate your dog that is your business but don’t go to the dog park. 

Don’t Ignore Your Dog

We have all see these people at dog parks and human parks.  Someone sitting on their phone completely ignoring their dog or child.  They have no idea what is going on.  Their dog could be attacking a dog, escaping, or even stealing toys but they would have no idea because they haven’t looked up.  

This is not appropriate etiquette and is likely to get you labeled a jerk.  

Don’t Argue with the Other Owners

Last but not least, don’t argue with the other owners.  Talking to the other owners and socializing is great but don’t be an instigator.  This should be a relaxing and fun time for all those at the dog park, not an episode of court TV. 

Take any serious discussions somewhere other than the dog park.