Dog Park 101: Etiquette & Tips


A dog park is a great way for you and your pet to socialize, exercise, and bond. To help you and your dog be prepared for your dog park trip, we at WonderWoof have created a tip guide that’ll ensure your time at the dog park is enjoyable and safe.

Vaccinations & Health

Do not bring a sick dog to the dog park. You can put both your dog and others at risk. Also, be sure you know your state’s laws about the Rabies vaccination, some require yearly vaccinations while others are every 3yrs. 

Basic Commands

Since your dog will be off leash, it is important that your dog can respond to basic commands. Two great commands for the dog park are calling your dog to you and getting him/her to settle down. Knowing how to do these things will help you maintain control.

Spayed/Neutered Preferred

One of the most common types of altercations that occur at the dog park are between neutered male dogs and intact male dogs. The scent of an intact male dog can cause neutered male dogs to react aggressively. If your dog isn’t neutered, you are putting him into a potentially dangerous situation. To avoid problems, it is best to have your dog spayed or neutered before bringing him/her to the dog park.

Be Vigilant

Be aware of your dog at all times. Being at the dog park is not an excuse to “punch out” for some time. It is your responsibility to make the dog park safe and fun for your furry friend by being active and vigilant. And be sure to chat with the other dog owners to understand their dogs’ personalities and histories. Information helps you keep your pup safe. Plus, you can both make new friends!

Bring Poop Bags!

While this may seem like common sense, you’d be surprised how many people use the excuse, “I didn’t know he/she had to go!” Be prepared and bring poop bags. Some dog parks even participate in dog waste programs using recycle bins. Check for signage in your dog park to see what disposal method you should be using.

Close the Gate

Another tip that seems like a no brainer! It is important to watch out for escape artist dogs looking for an open door to run through. In the unfortunate event that a dog does escape, it is vital to familiarize yourself with your area’s animal lost/found resources before a situation occurs. Microchipping your dog is a great tool for finding your dog if he/she becomes lost.

If You Have A Small Dog

If you have a small dog, you may want to consider finding a dog park designated for small dogs or a time that is specifically set aside for small dogs. It’s easy for your little guy or girl to get overwhelmed or even knocked over with lots of large dogs running around.

Avoid Bringing Outside Food and Feeding Other Dogs

Every dog’s diet and stomach is different. One dog’s favorite treat may cause stomach problems in another. This is why it is important to not feed other people’s dogs without asking for permission. With all the food allergies out there, it is better to be safe than sorry. You should also try to snack before a trip to the dog park so the crinkle of your chocolate bar wrapper doesn’t attract all the dogs in the park. 

Emergency Contacts

Add the number for your local animal shelter, humane society, animal control center, nearest veterinary clinic, and your dog’s microchip and license numbers in your phone. Preparation and speed will help tremendously if an emergency occurs.

Know Your Dog!

If your dog hasn’t developed social skills, is fearful of large groups of dogs, or isn’t receptive to your commands, bringing them to the dog park may be too big of a leap. Instead, work on getting your dog comfortable in a dog park setting by easing them into social situations. Setting up a “playdate” with one or two other dogs is a great way to teach your dog how to socialize in a healthy manner.