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Bringing These 5 Things to the Dog Park Is a Really Bad Idea

Food, young puppies, and even toys are on our list. Do you have anything to add?

Heather Marcoux  |  Mar 3rd 2017


The dog park is a wonderful place where our best friends can make new pals and sniff interesting stuff, but any park is only as good as the people who use it. Trouble gets walked through that double gate quite often, and it’s not the pups, but the humans who need to learn the “leave it” command. Let’s take a look at five things that don’t belong at the dog park.

GoldenLab mix GhostBuster thinks he’s the king of the dog park. (Photo by Heather Marcoux)

1. Super young puppies

Bringing an unvaccinated puppy to a dog park is a bad idea for obvious reasons, but even if a puppy has all of their shots, they still may not be ready to play with the big pups. Also, if a dog’s age is still being counted in weeks, he probably hasn’t quite figured out that whole recall thing yet.

You never know what kinds of influences you’re gonna get in a public dog park either — a pup can easily pick up bad habits from adult dogs. If appropriate socialization is your aim, a puppy-specific play yard at a training facility may be a better bet, at least for a little while.

2. Food

Just because there is a picnic table somewhere does not mean you have to have a picnic. Seriously.

Humans who bring buckets of chicken or bags of McDonald’s into the dog park are pretty much the worst kind of dog park users. Eating human food in a dog park is like cutting yourself in a shark tank — it’s a bad idea.

Would you eat off this table? I wouldn’t. (Photo by Heather Marcoux)

Tempting and teasing dogs in the park is obviously bad behabiour, but sometimes food enters the dog park through less intentional actions.

Anyone with low blood sugar or small kids at home knows it’s easy to forget about a granola bar in your coat pocket — until some random dog is hanging from your hem.

3. Toys

A toy can be as tempting as take out for dogs in the park. Of course pet parents have good intentions when they come to the park with their pup’s toy in tow, but too often a favorite play thing leads to a scuffle when other dogs want to play the game, too.

Unless you want other pups chasing your dog’s ball all over the park, or slobbering all over your Frisbee, toys are better suited for a more private setting. Keep them and home and let your dog use the park for another fun purpose: butt sniffing.

The dog park is plenty of fun without toys. (Photo by Heather Marcoux)

4. Cigarettes

Of course nicotine addicts have the urge to light up, but the dog park just is not the place to do it. First of all, there’s the secondhand smoke. Smokers will often argue that the health concerns of outdoor secondhand smoke have been overstated, but the fact is it’s a known carcinogen and it really stinks. Cigarette smoke has a pungent odor (even to smokers with a damaged sense of smell), so imagine how intense it is for dogs, who have hundreds of millions more olfactory receptors than we do.

Then there are the butts, tossed casually all over the ground. They are litter, plain and simple, and they don’t belong on the ground where dogs could eat them and get sick. The only butts welcome at the pup park are the canine kind.

5. Bikes

Sure, the bike rider’s dog enjoys sprinting alongside his two-wheeled human, but aren’t any of these cyclists afraid they’ll run over someone else’s pup who maybe isn’t so bike friendly, or wipe out on a pile of poop that wasn’t scooped? The dog park is not the place for humans to act out their Tour du France fantasies. The only zooming dogs want to see at the park is the kind that happens on four legs.

Do you agree with the things on this list? Have anything to add?