Dog Park Etiquette: Part 1


When the weather is nice, dogs of all breeds and their parents drop by the dog park. But judging by the manners of some of those pups at these awesome outdoor recreational facilities, you’d think they (and their humans) were raised by wolves. So what’s a conscientious dog lover to do if they see something amiss at the dog park? We have some dog park etiquette and advice for navigating your thorniest dog park dilemmas.

You See Someone Fail to Scoop

If the offending dog parent blatantly shirks their poop-scooping duty, keep your cool. Fight the urge to smack your gums indignantly and demand, “You gonna get that?” Instead, kindly let the dog parent know there’s been an incident. Keep your tone light, even helpful, like you’re doing them a favor: “Oh! I think your dog just went!” Use the same approach if the parent is genuinely oblivious to the deposit.

You See Someone Harshly Reprimand Their Dog

While “harsh” may be in the eye of the beholder, you know bad dog parenting when you see it. However, interfering can get downright ugly. Most dog parents will not be receptive to your parenting critique, no matter how delicately your phrase it. But for the pup’s sake, it’s worth a try: “I couldn’t help but notice you’re dealing with a jumper, just like my Oscar. I had the best luck with [insert suitable training technique here]…”

If the dog is clearly going to be better off removed from the situation (i.e. they’re in danger of physical harm or psychological trauma), this switches from a question of etiquette to a moral obligation. You must alert the authorities.

Someone Reprimands Your Dog

If the reprimand is warranted, consider the issue closed. For example, your Chow receives a stern “Ginger, no!” when she runs over to help herself to someone else’s stash of treats. Not only is the mild scolding appropriate, but the other dog parent has also reinforced that the rule “Baconettes are for good dogs who sit” applies everywhere. However, if the reprimand is too harsh, or simply uncalled for, step in right away. Offer a cordial, “Thanks, I’ll handle it,” and walk Ginger to another area of the park.

You’re Left Out of the Dog Park Coffee Klatch

Chances are, this invite-only meet-and-greet looks way more interesting from the outside. The bulk of the conversation probably revolves around whose dog failed obedience class and where Coco was caught pooping. Count your blessings. If you seriously still want in, invite one or two of the park-goers to your place for happy hour. Tell them you’ve been wanting to discuss Vixen’s off-color greeting habits.

Looking for more guidance on canine (and human) manners? Check out dog park etiquette, part two!


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