Etiquette Tips for Our Canine Friends

Although it may be hard to know what is appropriate behavior for dogs while they run in an off leash area, the following are tried-and-true suggestions founded on the experiences of thousands of users, at hundreds of dog parks. Following these simple suggestions will ensure that you and your canine friend will enjoy a stress free visit to the Canine Corral. The information was provided by CalDog, a group responsible off-leash advocates.

  1. Make your first visit without your dog to familiarize yourself with the site (parking, access gates, etc). Make your initial dog visit at a non-peak usage time. Mid-day hours during the week and late afternoons on the weekend are generally quiet times at the dog park. After work is always busy-avoid the park at these times if you are new or if your dog is under-socialized.
  2. Remember that many dogs who visit the dog park are not socialized to children. Others chase around at a high rate of speed. ‘Scrums' of dogs also develop and change quickly in ways that can scare kids. So, keep children close and allow no running, screaming or food. Do not allow your children to approach any dog without permission from the dog's handler. Remember-and instruct-that a dog park is not a playground for kids.
  3. Know your dog! Not all dogs are good candidates for off-leash dog parks. If your dog has not had regular interaction with other dogs, or does not ‘come' when called, it may lack the necessary skills to make your visit safe and enjoyable. Check for training schools that offer socialization classes for adult dogs or for trainers who will work with you at the off-leash dog park. Socialize young puppies (8 to 16 weeks of age) at a puppy kindergarten class, not at the dog park.
  4. Let your dog off-leash as soon as you arrive within the boundaries of the park. Mixing leashed / unleashed dogs commonly causes problems. Leashed dogs often feel threatened by the free dogs and will display provocative body language and defensive behavior. If you are concerned about letting your dog off-leash, do not visit the off-leash park or at least see Tip 1.
  5. Especially on your initial visit, keep walking! Walking, rather than sitting or standing will help minimize defensive and territorial behaviors. This means that your dog is more likely to pass another dog with a friendly sniff instead of a stare down.
  6. Be aware that dogs have different play styles, temperaments and physical abilities. Many dogs love rambunctious play, but some dogs suffer from injuries and some are more timid and aloof. Always respect the wishes of the handler and be prepared to move to another area of the park if your dog is too rambunctious. Leash up and leave if your dog is acting in an aggressive manner.
  7. Pick up poop-always, everywhere! The park will get thousands of dog visits every month, and we want to keep it clean. Nobody likes to look at, or step in, dog poop. Pick up a spare poop because you may have left one and not seen it-a "karma poop pick up."
  8. Keep the area safe and clean. Remove extra water jugs. Pick up trash, cigarette butts and orphan poops. Don't allow your dog to dig holes, which can cause injuries to unsuspecting people and dogs. Leave the site in better condition than you found it. Small actions, multiplied by thousands of visits, keep off-leash dog areas successful.
  9. Enter the dog park away from where the pack or majority of dogs are playing. Too many unknown and enthusiastic ‘greeters' may cause a new dog to be fearful and to fight to protect itself. You can prevent this by avoiding the pack initially and giving your dog time to get used to the park slowly. Also, if your dog designates itself as a ‘greeter', call it away from the gates to assist new entrants.
  10. Be friendly. People are here to bring their dogs to play. Most people don't have malicious intent, just lack of experience. Mistakes are made, and helping people is more productive than condemning them. If your dog gets in a scuffle, pull the rear legs of your own dog to separate the combatants. Don't put your hands/arms in the middle, you'll be bit. After separating the dogs, check for bite marks. Often the snarl is worse than the bite. Many things described as vicious "fights" may not even result in broken skin. Act, don't react.
  11. Please check to be certain that your dog's immunizations and licensing are up-to-date. The dogs will be in close proximity, use a common water fountain and play with toys and balls that other dogs have mouthed. We know of no instances where there have been problems, and it's up to all of us to keep it that way!