Dog Park Etiquette

Our very own Mr. Henry passed this article on to me, but not just because it's an interesting article, he happens to be the handsome...

Horst Hoefinger  |  Aug 12th 2008


Our very own Mr. Henry passed this article on to me, but not just because it’s an interesting article, he happens to be the handsome pup in the picture. Henry, a 1-year-old West Highland White Terrier, was captured as he cools off at Capehart Dog Park in San Diego. Way to go Mr. Henry!

The article, on off- leash dog park etiquette, has some great tips on being a responsible pet parent. All dog parks have official rules, like cleaning up after your pet and making sure their vacinations are current, but there are also some unwritten rules. The following are some things to keep in mind.

Five things you should never bring to the off-leash dog park:

Food: This applies to both the human and canine variety. Whether it’s Fido’s favorite treat or a quick lunch for you, bringing food into the dog park is one of the best ways to go from zero to anarchy in a matter of seconds. And don’t think you can hide those morsels in your pocket–with a sense of smell that is 100,000 times greater than that of a human, they’ll find it every time. After all, they don’t have bomb-sniffing humans, do they?

Your own toys: Of course, bringing your dog’s personal toys to the dog park is fine–as long as neither of you wants to see them again. The beauty of the dog park is the communal atmosphere, so expect to see plenty of sharing, but don’t expect to see Rover politely return Fluffy’s ball when it’s time for her to go home.

Small kids: A dog park may seem like an ideal place to let your two-legged charges run loose as well, but even the friendliest medium- to large-sized dog can knock a toddler to the ground with so much as an enthusiastic greeting, causing inevitable conflict between parent and pet owner. Kid parks outnumber dog parks by at least 100 to 1, so for everyone’s safety and peace of mind, keep at least one hand on your tots when they’re in canine territory.

A leash: Though a must in most situations, a leash should never enter the dog park attached to a dog. Rather than keeping your pooch safe, being tethered to a leash can make your furry friend a sitting duck, unable to get away from dominant or aggressive dogs. Last year in San Diego, a Chihuahua/Yorkie mix was killed at Dusty Rhodes Dog Park when its leash kept it from evading an aggressive Husky. While the leash was obviously not to blame for the incident, it left the small dog open to attack.

An attitude: Your love for Lassie may be unconditional, but that doesn’t mean she can do no wrong. Always keep an eye on your pup and be ready to intervene if playtime gets out of hand.

By following the rules–both written and implied–the dog park can be a great place for everyone who is lucky enough to be owned by a dog. Let the butt-sniffing begin!