14 Rules for Dog Park "Petiquette"

Category_Activities Category_Chicago Category_Dogs Category_Dog_Parks Category_Safety Writer_Cheryl_Hentz

Sparky Steps - 14 Rules for Dog Park "Petiquette"

Dog Park “Petiquette” and Whether Dog Parks Are All They’re Cracked Up to Be?

The concept of dog parks started in California in 1979; today, they can now be found in every state except Alaska. In Chicago alone, there are some 23 off-leash dog parks, according to BringFido.com. The whole idea of dog parks was borne to provide a large space (usually not less than one or two acres) in which dogs can exercise and play off-leash and interact with other dogs in a controlled environment, under the supervision of their owners. The last part of that sentence is they key: under the supervision of the owners! How often do we read or hear about dogs being bitten by other dogs at dog parks, some seriously injured, even killed or badly maimed, because their owners weren’t even around? I have personally witnessed people at dog parks letting their dogs off the leash to run, then sit down only to play on their phones or other mobile devices, or strike up conversations with other pet owners, none of whom have a clue where their dogs are in the park, or what they’re doing. Some of these incidents even end up with people getting hurt if they try to intervene to protect their own pet from being injured. And if these cases end up in court, people are not usually awarded damages from the other party because the thought is all dog owners are assuming a certain amount of risk when they take their pets to an off-leash park. Many parks even have signs posted at the entrance saying you are assuming the risk by using the park. Dogs are pack animals, that’s true. But that doesn’t mean they’re always going to get along with every dog they meet; just as we humans don’t like everyone we meet. To help ensure your visit to the dog park is a happy event, follow these rules:


14 Rules for Dog Park "Petiquette"

  1. Pick up after your dog when it does its business and follow other park rules/regulations. It may be wise to familiarize yourself with the park rules before you get there;
  2. Work with your dog before-hand on coming when they’re called, etc.;
  3. Don’t take your dog to the dog park if they don’t play nicely with other dogs, or if they are real nervous;
  4. Introduce your dog slowly to other dogs that may already be in the park
  5. Pay attention to your dog(s) and make sure you always have them in your sight. It’s been said that a dog park is not a relaxing place for a responsible pet owner, and that is absolutely the truth.
  6. Pay attention to other dogs that may be approaching or encountering yours;
  7. Make sure you are in control of your dog, and when off-leash be in total voice-command;
  8. If dog play is becoming rough, stop it before it becomes too aggressive or out of control;
  9. Don’t get into arguments or fights with other dog owners;
  10. Know when to leave and be prepared to leave quickly if a problem arises;
  11. Consider visiting the park during off-hours when the park may not be that busy. That way he or she can still run and get a lot of exercise, without the likelihood of encountering too many, or even any other dogs;
  12. Don’t crowd the entrance to the park. Instead, wait to approach the entrance until there are no other dogs entering or leaving the park;
  13. If your dog is an unspayed/unaltered female, make sure she is not in heat when visiting the park
  14. Make sure your dog is current on its vaccines, including perhaps Bordetella, since it may be encountering other dogs.


Last reminder is to have fun and be safe! Dog parks are for everyone so please be mindful. Meanwhile here are some other helpful links about dog parks.


Written by Cheryl Hentz


For More Information:


This site offers a list of off-leash dog parks in Chicago https://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/dog-park-etiquette-rules

This site offers different scenarios and how to respond to them. You can also download a free dog park etiquette poster from this site. https://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.bing.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1017&context=mes_capstones

This site contains a large paper on dog park benefits and liabilities done by Laurel Allen with the University of Pennsylvania. It’s a fascinating read.

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