Dogs, like people, need exercise and socialization. Taking them to the dog park is a great way to give them both.

But before you take Fido, there are a few etiquette tips to keep in mind…

Consider Your Dog’s Disposition
Before you take your dog to the dog park, be sure he can handle it. If Fido doesn’t play well with others or has a habit of barking at strangers, it’s probably best to avoid the park until you’ve had a chance to train him further. A trip to the dog park should be enjoyable for all.

Bring a Pooper Scooper
You never know when nature will call and it’s simply good manners to pick up after your dog does his business. Be sure to take a pooper scooper and bags as the park might not have bags available.

Don’t Pressure Your Dog
Let your dog enjoy the park as he wants. If he’s not playing with other dogs, don’t pressure him into doing so. He may just want to sniff around and explore the area. Every dog has a unique personality and may not want to play with others.

Leash On or Off?
If the dog park is un-fenced, keep your dog leashed unless he is responsive to verbal commands. In an off-leash park area, however, you should let your dog run off the leash. Keeping him on the leash when other dogs are running free could cause your dog to feel insecure and trigger aggressive behavior. Whether he’s on the leash or off, keep an eye on your dog at all times.

Supervise His Behavior
If your dog wants to play with other dogs, that’s great; however, keep a close eye. If you notice your pooch or another is starting to get a little too rough, break them up. Pups can get carried away when they are deep in play mode and could unintentionally end up hurting each other.

Monitor Intact Males
If your dog is intact, be mindful of his location and playtime with female dogs. Likewise, if your dog is a female, don’t take her to the park if she is in heat or pregnant.

Keep the Peace at the Park!
Work with other park goers to keep park visits peaceful. If you notice your dog is being bullied, is playing too rough or doesn’t get along well with others, either work it out by speaking calmly with other pet parents or head home to avoid problems. Be respectful of other’s wishes as well. If another park goer asks you to take your dog away from theirs, do so without arguing and to help keep the peace at the park.

We hope these tips will help you keep your visits to the dog park fun for all.