Dog Park Safety Tips and Etiquette

  • Make your first visit without your dog to familiarize yourself with the site (parking, access gates, etc). Make your initial visit with your dog at a time that is not busy. Daytime hours during the week and late afternoon hours on the weekend tend to have less traffic.
  • Remember that many dogs who visit the dog park may not be socialized to children. Keep children close and allow no running, screaming, or food. Do not allow children to approach a dog without permission from the dog's handler.
  • Know your dog. Not all dogs are good candidates for off-leash dog parks. If your dog has not had regular interaction with other dogs, it may lack the necessary social skills to make your visit safe and enjoyable. Check for training schools that offer remedial socialization classes for adult dogs or for trainers who will work with you at the off-leash dog park. Socialize young puppies (8-16 weeks of age) at a puppy kindergarten class, not at the dog park.
  • Let your dog roam off-leashed upon arrival to the park. Mixing leashed and off-leashed dogs commonly causes problems. Leashed dogs often feel threatened by the free dogs and will display provocative body language and defensive behavior. If you are uncomfortable about letting your dog off-leash, do not visit the off-leash park.
  • Keep walking. Walking, rather than sitting or standing, will help minimize defensive and territorial behaviors. This means that your dog is more likely to pass another dog with a friendly sniff instead of a stare down.
  • Be aware that dogs have different play styles, temperaments, and physical abilities. Many dogs love rambunctious play, but some dogs suffer from injuries and some are more timid and aloof. Always respect the wishes of the handler, and always be prepared to move to another area of the park if your dog is too rambunctious. Leash up and leave if your dog is acting in an aggressive manner.
  • Pick up any waste or feces left by your dog. Thousands of dogs visit the off-leash dog park every month. Plastic bags, supplied by visitors who bring recycled bags from home, are generally available in on-site storage boxes.
  • Keep the area safe and clean. Don't allow your dog to dig holes; holes can cause injuries to unsuspecting people and dogs. Leave the site in a better condition than you found it. Small actions, multiplied by thousands of visitors, are what keep off-leash dog areas a success.

Last Edited: July 7, 2016