Dog Park Do’s and Don’ts You Need to Know

With good weather finally on the horizon, your pup definitely has his sights set the dog park.

Every pet owner wants their buddy to put his best paw forward when he steps outside to play, so we asked New York-based Bideawee, one of America’s first no-kill animal rescues, for their do’s and don’ts at the dog park.

If you think the dog park is the perfect place to bring your hyper pup to get out all of his energy, think again. Nora Kogelschatz, Bideawee’s manager of training and behavior, suggests exercising your pup beforehand. “This will eliminate any negative energy and rude behaviors that could cause a fight to break out,” she says.

For more top tips, read on.

DO …

Make sure your dog is up to date on his vaccinations and preventatives. “This includes rabies, kennel cough, and distemper as well as flea, tick and parasite control,” says Kogelschatz. “Diseases harmful and sometimes deadly to animals and even humans can be found in the ground, water, and even other dogs.”

Make sure your dog comes when being called. Young or newly adopted dogs may struggle with name recognition. “A recall command is important for all dogs to know, especially when he is off leash,” Kogelschatz explains. “This will help get your dog out of a sticky situation quickly.”

DO …

Remove your dog’s leash before he joins the other dogs to play but always keep it on until he is in the designated off-leash area. “Dogs that approach each other on leash are forced to greet head on and that could be perceived as a threat,” says Kogelschatz. “A dog’s proper greeting should be approaching side to side, sniffing, calm and slowly, and initially avoiding eye contact.”

Make sure your dog is in a size-appropriate play area. Big dogs and little dogs are generally separated at dog parks. “Some dogs may have higher prey drive than others and while playing with a little furry dog, their predatory instincts could kick in and this could result in injury or sadly sometimes death,” she says. “To keep your 4-legged friend safe, keep the play to dogs their own size.”


Get in the middle of a dog fight. Make sure you learn the safest ways to break up a fight, Kogelschatz says, and what body language cues to look out for  —  like staring, body stiffening, tails held high, and growling.

Never bring a hyper dog to the park, always exercise your dog first. As mentioned above, the dog park is not meant to be a hyper pup’s playground. If your pup is hyper, get all that energy out before coming to the park to reduce the likelihood of a fight.


Get distracted. “The dog park is not a social hour,” Kogelschatz says. “Dogs fights can happen in the blink of an eye, and if you’re not watching, not only your dog, but the other dogs in the park, things can go sour very quickly.”

Assume the dogs will just “work it out.”  Your dog may be a pro at playing nice, but other dogs may not be. “Normally dogs can pick up the behaviors of the other dog involved. For example, if the other dog has had enough play he will try to walk away, curl his lip, or growl,” she says. “Sometimes there are dogs that don’t take the hint and continue to push and this can quickly escalate and turn into a conflict between the dogs that otherwise wouldn’t happen. It’s up to the pet owners to be aware of body language and when a dog has had enough.”

To learn more about Bideawee, visit their website. 


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Amy Jamieson

A former senior editor for, Amy launched People Pets for People magazine in 2008. Now she writes about pets, lifestyle and more from her bucolic saltbox in Collinsville, Connecticut, usually with a cat in her lap and a dog at her feet.

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