We all know that dog parks are great for our four-legged friends. They get a chance to exercise and socialize with the other dogs, but some humans are ruining this for everyone involved. 

  1. Thou Shalt Pick Up Dog Poop

This is the most obvious one to start with, and it should be common sense to clean up after your pet, but for some reason it needs to be said; Pick up the dog poop! I don’t care if it’s gross, you have a responsibility to pick it up. If you don’t have a bag, don’t worry; some nice folks have gone out of their way to make sure there are bags to use. I visit the dog park almost daily, and I see people ignore this oh-so-important commandment every day. If I had a dollar for each time I stepped in poop, I could pay the $300 fine you could get from the city for not picking up your dog’s poop.

  1. Thou Shalt Not Bring Dogs Who Haven’t Been Spayed or Neutered

One overlooked dog park rule is bringing a dog who hasn’t been spayed or neutered. I was once in a situation where an owner yelled at my dog for getting frisky with his. My dog is fixed, and this guy’s dog was in heat so I’m not entirely sure what he expected to happen. Some think a male who is unneutered may be more aggressive because of his high testosterone level, but sometimes that's not the case; a male who hasn't been “snipped” can actually be the target of aggression from the other male dogs. Let’s just call it jealousy.

  1. Thou Shalt Not Bring Dogs They Can’t Control

I’m not going to sit here and act like some dogs are perfect, and that other dogs are aggressive and dangerous. I’ve met some very friendly pitbulls, and some downright awful ones, but that falls on the owner. Don’t blame the breed because you haven’t trained them properly. It may seem like a good idea to bring an aggressive dog to the park to “socialize” them, but a dog who is not used to so much activity and unwanted attention is put in a pretty bad spot. I’m not an expert on dog behavior like Cesar Milan, but if you have a dog that is not friendly, or has had a traumatic experience that may lead them to be aggressive, a trip to the park may only make things worse for everyone. For resources and tips on Pet Behavior issues, click here.

  1. Thou Shalt Not Keep Their Dog on a Leash Inside the Park

If you’re new to the park and your dog is nervous, you may think you’re doing your dog a favor by keeping them leashed by your side. This security for you isn’t helping your pup, who could have a lot of anxiety because they have no way to defend themselves or escape from unwanted attention, potentially triggering fights that can be easily avoided. To top it all off, your dog may just rip your arm off if they see a squirrel nearby, so just ditch the leash when you get inside.

  1. Thou Shalt Not Bring Their Small Dogs to Play with Large Ones

Our dog park is split into two sections; small and large. If your dog is tiny but you think they can roll with the big dogs, you could be putting yourself and your dog at risk. The small dog could be playing in a pack of large dogs, and the last thing we want to see is a 90-pound Rottweiler falling onto your Yorkie.

  1. Thou Shalt Not Stare at Their Phone Instead of Their Dog

I’m guilty of this one sometimes. This may sound silly, but you need to keep track of your dog when you’re at the park. Your dog could be causing trouble but how would you know? You're too busy leveling up on Candy Crush. Don’t make other dog owners keep track of your dog because you’re tweeting or posting a picture of your dog on Instagram.

  1. Thou Shalt Not Bring Food and Alcohol to the Dog Park

Yeah, I’ve seen this happen more than once. Not only is it distracting, but it’s a little gross. You can’t eat McDonald’s at the picnic table because dogs will obviously want your food, and I’ve seen dogs walk on that table. Respect the other dogs and dog owners, and respect your own immune system in the process. Alcohol is also prohibited, but I’ve seen people crack open a cold one with the boys on several occasions. Not cool, bro.

  1. Thou Shalt See a Fight Before It Happens

I can recall more than one situation where I’ve left the park early in anticipation of dog park conflicts. This isn’t because people are bad owners, but because dogs will do what dogs do. You can tell when dogs are playing and when dogs are getting too aggressive. Knowing when things start to escalate can keep your dog and others out of harm’s way.

  1. Thou Shalt Not Bring Puppies Younger Than 4 Months Old

This one is similar to having your pet spayed or neutered, but it’s more of a safety issue for your cute little pupper. It would be great to have your puppy at the park to play and socialize, but our dog park prohibits dogs who are younger than 12 weeks because they won’t be spayed or neutered at that point. They’ll also need the proper vaccinations before they interact with other dogs. If they haven’t been vaccinated, puppies could be extremely vulnerable to diseases, and exposure to other dogs may increase that risk.

  1. Thou Shalt Communicate with Other Dog Owners

This is another one I’m not so great with. I know some dogs better than I know their owners, mainly because the people don’t talk much. It’s important to make conversation with the other humans at the park in order to understand each other and our dogs. It’s also good to interact with someone other than your dog and your smartphone, so let’s just be nicer to each other.

Bonus: Thou Shalt Supervise Their Kids. My dog loves kids, but he’s also 80 pounds so sorry in advance if little Johnny gets steamrolled.

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