8 Common Mistakes Dog Owners Make When Visiting Dog Parks

dog park

Dog park mistakes are quite common, but not all fur parents are aware that they’re committing these mistakes.

Don’t worry, it’s okay. You can easily avoid these no-nos through a few simple changes. 

Why is it important to follow dog park rules?

Rules help keep things in order. In dog parks, rules help keep fur babies and fur parents safe.

Not following a park’s guidelines may lead to pet injuries and dog fights.

What are the dos and don’ts at the dog park?

Apart from the usual park rules, there are also other things you need to remember before taking Fido to the dog park. Here are a few: 

1) Pick up after your dog

This is one of the most common dog park rules. Dogs can get messy at the park. They might poop, pee, or dig holes.

It’s your responsibility as a pet owner to make sure you clean up after your pet. It doesn’t matter what mess he leaves. You have to do your part in keeping the dog park clean. 

2) Prepare the essentials

Bring everything your dog may need. Dog park essentials may include a water bowl, a leash, a first-aid kit, and poop bags. 

Pack these ahead of time so you come to the dog park prepared. 

Read more about dog park etiquette and dos and don’ts here.

Most common dog park mistakes

Although most fur parents are familiar with park rules, there are still some who commit a few dog park mistakes.

Here’s a list of some of the most common ones you need to avoid:

1) Bringing the puppy

Pups should not go to dog parks until they are around 16 weeks of age. That’s because puppies still need to be trained, socialized, and vaccinated.

Puppies can pick up bad habits at the park without proper training and socialization.

Apart from that, any negative experience at the park at such a young age can cause trauma.

According to Modern Dog Magazine, your puppy may start thinking that playing with other dogs at the park is not fun if you bring him there without proper training. 

You must monitor your puppy’s interactions so he doesn’t end up fearing people and other canines.

2) Not reading the park rules

Park rules are available online and are often displayed at the park entrance.

You must read and understand the rules carefully to prevent any accidents. Rules may vary from park to park so you have to do your research before every trip. 

For example, some dog parks do not have a separate area for big dogs and small dogs. Some parks do not allow food, while some do not allow small children. 

3) Getting distracted

This is one of the most common dog park mistakes nowadays.

Don’t go to the dog park, let your dog run loose, and then stare at your phone the entire time. 

Watch your fur baby very carefully at all times. Don’t let him out of your sight and don’t let him wander off too far from you.

If your dog is playing with another, watch for signs of aggression. Are they biting each other too hard? Are they both having fun? 

A lot of things can go wrong in just a few seconds of not paying attention.

4) Getting in the middle of a dog fight

Some pet owners’ first instinct when their dog gets into a fight is to step right in the middle in an attempt to break it up. 

That can be very dangerous for you and everyone involved. The American Kennel Club suggests that you break off the fight by distracting the dogs involved. 

Blowing an air horn or spraying the dogs with citronella or lemon spray can help. 

You can also use objects to separate the dogs. A piece of plywood, a large broom, or even a trashcan lid can help.

Whatever you do, don’t get in the middle of the fight. It’s better to pull your dog away from the commotion from behind, but this should be your last resort.

5) Assuming your dog loves the park

Not all dogs will love a trip to the park. Some dogs prefer the company of other canines and people they know, while some would rather go on long walks. 

Watch the behavior of your dog closely when you do bring him outside. Check if he’s excited, if he attempts to play with other dogs, or if tucks his tail between his legs. 

6) Bringing too many toys

Professional dog trainers advise against bringing too many of your dog’s favorite toys to the park, especially if your dog doesn’t like sharing.

If you do bring a toy, check your surroundings first before you let your dog play with it.

The same goes for dog treats. Don’t just whip it out for all the dogs at the park to see.

Toys and treats, if not handled properly, can easily start a competition or worse, a dog fight.

If you must, choose to play with Fido with what’s available at the park, like sticks and ropes. 

7) Not preparing beforehand

Don’t just waltz into the dog park with your fur baby. Walk around the premises first so you can both get a feel of the park and everyone in it. 

You have to know where to go and when, too. Dog parks often have double gates to help you make sure that your dog enters and leaves safely. 

Monitor your dog closely while entering. Keep him on the leash until you are inside the park.

Walk around for a bit first so you can ‘introduce’ your dog to his playmates. If he has a calm response to the other dogs, you can let him off his leash.

Don’t forget to prepare dog park essentials as well. Bring everything your dog may need like water and a first-aid kit.

8) Using the dog park as Fido’s only form of exercise

Take Fido for a walk to burn excess energy before heading to the park. You want him to be calm and obedient before you actually let him play on his own. 

Make sure he comes when he is told, too to prevent any drama when it’s time to leave.

Your fur baby’s activity shouldn’t be limited to trips to the dog park. He should have other forms of exercise and play, too.

You can take him to a dog water park near you or go on a nature walk at nearby hiking trails. 

You can also play fetch at the beach or try a DIY obstacle course at home. It’s also important to play mentally stimulating games like foraging.

Don’t limit your dog’s activity to the ones available at a dog park near you. Much like you, not only will he appreciate the variety, he will also benefit more from more activities. 

Responsible pet owners follow rules

If you’ve been a long-time fur parent, you already know the importance of discipline and how it goes hand-in-hand with following rules. 

You and your fur baby will be much safer and happier if both of you know how to follow dog park etiquette and dos and don’ts. 


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