Dog Park Rules & Etiquette

Oh, behave!

(From “Dog Parks and Basic Bark Park Etiquette” at
Off-leash dog parks are a wonderful recreational outlet for dogs and people. The opportunity to run and play with other dogs in a securely fenced environment is a valuable tool in a pet’s social development. Unfortunately, not every dog park is filled with responsible owners, and not all dogs are socialized enough to handle the excitement of a dog park. There is even a Dog Park Debate about the benefits and risks of taking your dog to a dog park. Help make your local dog park venue more successful and less stressful by following this basic etiquette for bark parks.

Immunized Dogs Only: Don’t bring your unvaccinated dog or puppy in a park full of other dogs. It’s just asking for the rapid spread of disease, some that could be fatal, especially to young puppies. Most parks will prohibit the entry of puppies younger than four months, the common age when the full range of puppy vaccines have been given.

Bring a Healthy Dog: Just like with people, sick dogs should stay home until they’re well.  It’s just common sense. Why would you want to expose other pets to suffering from kennel cough, fleas, mange, parasites or other health problems?

Keep Female Dogs in Heat at Home
: Taking a female dog in heat out in public is irresponsible, especially out somewhere where there are dozens of dogs running loose (with possibly unneutered males). You’re just asking to pay for vet bills for your own and other dogs.

Be Aware AND Responsible for Your Dog’s Behavior: The best way to be a responsible owner is simply pay attention to what your dog is doing. If your dog digs a hole, fill it back in, and so forth. If your dog is possessive of its toys or treats, don’t bring them to the park (in general, it’s a good idea to NOT bring toys or food into a dog park). Be aware of other people’s reaction to interactions with your dog – not everyone can handle being tackled by your lovable ball of energy. And if your dog can not play nicely with other dogs on that day, then take him/her home. Be familiar with dog body language so you can recognize the difference between play and aggression in your own and other dogs. Please note: some dogs, regardless of size, may be unpredictable or aggressive to the point that they are not ready to be at an off-leash dog park. If this is the case for your pet, you should find another outlet for their exercise to avoid dangerous situations.

Clean Up After Your Dog: To prevent the spread of disease and parasites, pick up after your dog. Besides, leaving poop piles for others to clean up is simply lazy and rude, and could result in you being fined or you and your dog being banned from the park. Persistent problems can also lead to the dog park itself being shut-down.

Closely Supervise Human Children: There are many good reasons to keep children out of off-leash dog parks. The possibilities for accidents are staggering – not all dogs are predictable around little humans, and vice versa. But if you do bring your child, keep them with you and closely supervise them at all times.

Don’t Bring Too Many Dogs: Many parks will have a posted limit on the number of dogs one person can bring into a dog park. It’s really best not to bring more than you can reliably control, even if that number is less than allowable limit.

Only Bring Dogs: For the safety of all concerned (dogs, the other animal, and the people in the park), do not bring animals other than dogs to a dog park.

Follow The Posted Rules: Following each park’s individually posted rules and regulations will help keep dog parks open and available to all dogs. Failure to obey the rules can result in your local park being shut down or cause a serious accident that could have otherwise been prevented.

Now, that said…go play!

Click Here to download a pdf file for the actual Old Town Dog Park rules.