Dog park etiquette

dog park

There are unwritten rules that apply in all dog parks. For the sake of all users, it’s your responsibility to find out the rules at your dog park and adhere to them!

Here are a few tips and suggestions to keep in mind next time you and your canine companion visit the dog park:

• Never let your dog become a nuisance to other canines or people. At the very least, he should come when you call him. He should also be well mannered and not jump up on strangers. If he’s still at the age where jumping and running amok is what he does best, keep him leashed until he learns to mind his P’s and Q’s.

• Many people come to the park equipped with tasty treats to ensure their dog will respond. If you do the same, please remember to only reward your own dog. Other dogs may have food allergies, or be on a regulated diet, and shouldn’t be eating what you have to offer.

• If your dog enjoys chasing a ball or other toy, please be aware of others around you. Some dogs may not care to share their toys. It might be best to go to a more isolated area to throw balls or toys, or go to the park during an off time, when it’s less busy.

• Another key item for your park excursion is a “poop” bag. Make sure you use a biodegradable bag, if possible. There are many convenient and stylish ways to carry your bags, including canisters that attach to the leash. It goes without saying that you must always pick up after your dog. It is vitally important that we keep dog areas clean, not only so the privilege will not be revoked, but also as an example to the community that dogs are not a nuisance.

• Remember, if your dog is in an area that is not strictly for his use, he may come across other park visitors who are apprehensive of dogs. If your dog approaches someone who looks anxious or backs away, call him back and leash him. It is not acceptable to call out to the person that your dog is friendly. By calling your dog, you show respect and consideration for others.

• One of the most important things to remember is safety. If your dog is being a bully to others, give him a time out. The parks are for all dogs to share equally.

•Last walk For anyone with a small backyard, an offleash park is the perfect solution to exercising a dog who loves to run and romp. Every privilege comes with a price tag, however, and off-leash parks are no exception. In fact, park etiquette is quite an issue in the dog community.

Rules are important. But at the end of the day, it’s important to remember why you’re at the dog park in the first place… to have fun! Mind your manners – and teach your dog to do the same – and you shouldn’t run into any issues.


Gillian Ridgeway is the Director of Who's Walking Who Dog Training Centres in Toronto and Ajax. She has been featured on many television and radio programs, and appears regularly as the canine expert on Canoe Live. Gillian is a guest lecturer at the University of Toronto, and a popular speaker at Veterinary Technician and Trainer Conferences.