Dog Park Etiquette

Dog park Los Angeles etiquette guidelines for pet parents and their dogs.

(Updated 2020)

Here are all of the dog park training equipment and products that we recommend

Pet Parent Awareness

How many times have you been in a dog park or a dog beach, and you glance around and pet parents are engaged in a conversation completely ignoring their dog’s whereabouts, or they are reading a book utterly oblivious to what is going on?  Perhaps they are on their phone engaging in a riveting texting “conversation” or are jibber jabbing on the telephone ignoring their pup humping another dog or pooping in the corner?  Or, maybe they stroll into the park without exercising their dog beforehand or casually leave the dog park gate door open after they absent-mindedly stroll in and allow other dogs to escape out of the gate.

All of these irresponsible, careless acts can be prevented and shouldn’t happen, but they do.  What can you do to make sure you are not one of those people?  Be proactive, by dog training in Los Angeles and engaging with your dog. Or simply do not go to the dog park. If you do decide to go to the dog park, do not go and ignore your dog and let them cause trouble and make everyone else’s experience horrid.  Your responsibilities do not end as a parent and a citizen once you enter the park, that is when a parent must be more vigilant.

Dog Park Supervision

Inappropriate Dog Behavior

While in the dog park, how often do you watch your pup playing and having a great time when the chronic humper comes along and is hip thrusting your dog and every other dog in the park? It may be funny for a brief second, but the reality is that if your dog is sitting down or walking away, they do not wish to engage in the humping behavior of the other dog and this is not a welcome, or mutually agreed upon relationship. If one dog is forcing themselves upon other dogs in the park, it is the responsibility of the pet parent whose dog is the humper to either put their dog on a leash and/or walk them out of the park. It is not OK for a parent to allow their dog to disruptive another, annoy or offend any of the other dogs in the park. It’s “natural” is not an excuse or intelligent

Proper Exercise and Dog Training for your Pup  

While many people use the off-leash dog parks as an excuse to not walk their dog or provide them with the necessary enrichment, adequate exercise and/or dog training necessary to maintain a happy, healthy dog, it is not OK to take an overly hyper-active dog into the park to go “crazy” and out of control. A hyperactive, out of control dog brings unbalanced energy into the park, and it negatively affects the entire stability of the dog park and creates an unstable and dangerous environment. Think of the dog park as a Starbucks or a restaurant where dogs gather for fun and socialization not as a race track or MMA gym where they to get their exercise and get their frustrations out. You should be taking your dog to the park after they get a nice long training dog walk, exercise and some formal dog obedience training so that your dog can meet other dogs and socialize and play in a calm, civilized manner that is healthy and safe for all the pets in the dog park.

Proper Supervision From a Dog Behavior Professional 

What good is a dog park with residents destroying the atmosphere and disobeying the laws? With no enforcement to adhere to rules and regulations and to detect and remove dogs and pet parents with inappropriate, disruptive behavior, all of these other suggestions are moot. A fear-free behavior professional with proper independent certification such as a certified professional dog trainer (CPDT) earned from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT), and/or a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) earned from the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) would be a huge bonus to have around to answer all questions relating to dog behavior and to be a dog lifeguard of sorts.

Out of Control Ill-Mannered Dogs That Bum Rush and Mug Other Dogs

No one likes a bully. Dogs are dyadic and play best in twos. Inappropriate growling or bullying is not permitted in dog parks or dog beaches. The entire balance and ambiance of the park are offset if there is a dogfight, bullying, unaltered or an aggressive dog in the park. If your dog is not dog and people friendly, by no means should they be in a park or anywhere with other dogs off-leash or around people. You should seek professional help from a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant & certified professional dog trainer (CPDT) to help you and your dog before exposing him/her to a dog park and the potential dangers inherent there. Do not risk your dog biting someone, a lawsuit and/or causing the entire balance of the dog park to be disturbed. No one’s life or health should be at risk in the dog park, and it is your responsibility to keep it that way.

Ganging Up on Other Dogs

If you see your dog forming a group (more than two) or hanging out with a group of other dogs that are chasing after and bothering/mauling every dog that enters the dog park, that is inappropriate and should be stopped immediately. Some dogs naturally form groups and small social gatherings in the park and bully other dogs and cause trouble when they are together. If a parent is not vigilant in watching their dog, then this could occur and go unnoticed. The last thing you want to happen is for a dogfight to breakout and your beloved pet or another to get injured. Furthermore, it is just plain rude and unacceptable to allow your dog to bum rush another dog or to gang-up and pick on another dog.

Unaltered Male and Female Dogs

Unneutered male dogs and unspayed female dogs throw off the chemistry of other dogs. In addition, unaltered dogs in off-leash dog parks, with their excess marking behavior, and humping/mounting, cause havoc to other dogs socializing and playing. If your dog is marking every bench, chair, tree, shrub, and blade of grass, it is time to get your dog fixed or speak to a certified behaviorist. Marking is not a polite behavior; it is a territorial, controlling, unfriendly and potentially dog dominating display. Your dog is communicating to all the other dogs, in a not so nice way, that this is his/her territory and marking their scent and advertising that they are unaltered and ready for action and taking over. Again, this disturbs the balance of the park. Often this triggers dogs of both genders to act more aggressively towards your unaltered dog and may cause many hormonal changes within the dog park. If your dog is unaltered, or can’t stop marking, remove them from the off-leash dog park and put them on a leash where you have some control over their behavior and out of harm’s way. Not only is it inappropriate and irresponsible to bring an unaltered dog into a dog park, but depending on your dog’s breed, Golden Retriever’s spay and neutering may reduce or extend your dog’s life by almost two years! If your dog breed is not negatively affected by spay and neutering, go get your dog fixed. Shelters kill millions of adoptable dogs and cats each year, do we really need any more breeders?

Dog Poop Removal

Entering a park does not give you a license to let your dog poop everywhere without you cleaning it up. Clean up after your dog; it’s the law and healthy. If your dog poops in the park or anywhere outside, it is your responsibility as a pet parent and a responsible human being to clean up after your dog, and in most municipalities, it is the law and illegal not to clean up after your dog. Not being prepared or not having a poop bag happens but it is not an excuse. If you run out of bags, improvise, or come back and pick it up after you can retrieve a bag to dispose of your dog’s waste. Always bring multiple bags out so if you see another parent without a bag, be a good neighbor and offer them one of yours. Having extra poop bags also helps in a pinch if it starts raining out to store your phone or electronic keys in or to make a water bowl for your dog. If you happen to miss exactly where your dog did their business and cannot find where your dog pooped, pay it forward and pick up someone else’s dog poop or some other garbage along the way. The next time, your dog should be in closer proximity so you can keep a better eye on them. Remember, you and your dog won’t want to step in another dogs’ poop, and your neighbor doesn’t want to step in your dog’s either.  It is also dangerous to your dog’s health for them to step in other dogs’ poop and get excrement on their paws and/or in their fur. Disease is spread this way, and this contaminates our water supply and compromises the entire ecosystem and community’s health! Also be careful about touching dirt and then touching your face as this seemingly benign act can make you sick.

Dog Park Poop

It is damaging to our water supply and toxic for our families and us when poop and parasites runoff into our water supply.  According to the EPA:

Pets, particularly dogs, are significant contributors to source water contamination. Probably the greatest health concern associated with animal wastes is pathogens. Many pathogens found in animal waste can infect humans if ingested. Organisms such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia lamblia, and Salmonella can induce symptoms ranging from skin sores to chest pain. E. coli, which causes diarrhea and abdominal gas, has been the source of disease outbreaks in several States. Particularly virulent strains of E. coli can cause serious illness and fatalities. Cryptosporidium is of particular concern because it is highly resistant to disinfection with chlorine. This protozoan causes gastrointestinal illness lasting two to ten days in healthy individuals but can be fatal in people with weakened immune systems. Dog and cat droppings often contain roundworms and other parasitic nematodes. Infection by just a few roundworms usually causes no problems, but more severe infections may cause fevers, bronchitis, asthma, or vision problems. Cat feces may contain toxoplasmosis, a parasite that infects humans and other animals. Cats are the only animals known to excrete toxoplasmosis oocysts, which are resistant to most disinfectants. Toxoplasmosis is a serious health concern for pregnant women and immuno-compromised individuals.

The easiest way to prevent these health hazards is to clean up after your dog and to use biodegradable poop bags. How many bags go into the garbage mindlessly every day? All of that plastic ends up in another garbage bag, in some landfill and someone’s backyard. Help the earth, improve your experiences, your health and your family by being friendly to the planet and our natural resources.  Start by being a responsible pet parent and citizen.

Lawn Chemicals Kill Dogs

There is not much you can do but don’t bring your dog to the dog park or call your local mayor, commissioners, and parks department and demand that they ban lawn chemicals from being used on our public parks.  Lawn chemicals have long been linked to cancer in dogs.

Dog Resource Guarding

Resources guarding, bullying or marauding dogs that steal other dog’s toys are not acceptable activities in any social setting. Dogs may resource guard a mate, a parent, or an area of the dog park. No one likes a thief or a bully so have your pup learn some dog training and obedience manners before entering a public dog park space. Remember, a dog park is meant more for socialization and civility like a Starbucks rather than a rowdy gymnasium.

 

Here are all of the dog park training equipment and products that we recommend

The central theme of dog park and dog beach etiquette is parent responsibility. Responsibility is the hallmark of the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test and others like it and should be required for any pet parent entering a dog park. If you are not a responsible dog parent, you should re-home your dog to a responsible dog parent. Being a pet parent is not a right but a great privilege.