Dog Park Etiquette

A few years ago, Unleashed Dog Training & Behavior Center was asked to do a presentation to pet owners and pet professionals on Dog Parks. We entitled the presentation, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Dog Parks.” More recently, we have been asked to comment on our blog about Dog Park Etiquette. Here is a quick overview of what you can expect at Dog Parks. But, we at Unleashed, encourage you to visit “Fido’s Forum” on our website, and post your own Dog Park experiences.

The Dog Park can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Dog Parks are usually specially designed fenced in areas for dogs to run and play off leash. In theory, this is a great idea. Many dog owners are apprehensive to let their dogs off leash in an unfenced area because they are worried about them running away. Also, many dog owners understand the benefits of socialization and exercise; and it can be hard to achieve these with a busy schedule. For these reasons, A Dog Park can be a wonderful opportunity for you and your dog. For the purposes of this blog, we’ll use the Folsom Dog Park as an example.

What you can expect
All well-behaved spayed and neutered dogs are welcome.

There is a double gate for you and your dog to enter through. This ensures that dog’s don’t escape as you are coming in.

Take off your dog’s leash after you go through the first gate, but before you go through the second gate. This will enable your dog to have the most natural body language as they say hello to other dogs upon entry.

As you and your dog enter, walk right past the other dogs, as to avoid a stopped crowd at the gate.

For your first few visits, try to go at the “non-busy times.” These times are usually during regular working hours…after 5pm and on the weekends can be very crowded and a little overwhelming for you and your dog.

Check the regular hours. In the past, the Folsom Dog Park was closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays…not sure if this is still the case.

The Folsom Dog Park has two separate areas. One is for dogs 25lbs and under and the other is for larger dogs.

Watch your dog’s interaction carefully. If your dog seems afraid or overwhelmed, try to distract him/her with a toy or start walking and encourage your dog to come with you.

If there is another dog there that appears to be “bullying” your dog or if your dog is bullying other dogs, try to interrupt the behavior. Be prepared to leave if the situation doesn’t improve.

Remember that not all dogs want and need the socialization that a dog park may provide. If your dog doesn’t appear happy, be prepared to leave.

In conclusion, Dog Parks are not monitored and some owners bring inappropriate dogs. It is your job to keep your dog’s interactions positive and safe.

Unleashed Dog Training & Behavior Center of El Dorado Hills provides evaluations and private lessons in home, or at a dog park, to help owners determine whether it’s a safe and productive environment for your dog. Unleashed also conducts Positive Reinforcement Group Training Classes to build your dog’s obedience base and improve on your relationship with your dog. Contact us at or visit our website for more information.

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