Be aware of good dog park etiquitte.
1 ~ Know your park
Section 2 ~ Know your dog
Section 3 ~ Know how to be considerate
Section 4 ~ Know how to handle problems
Section 5 ~ Know how to stop a dog fight
Section 6 ~ Know when to use a leash or not
Section 7 ~ Know about dangers to children
Section 8 ~ Know about dangers to small dogs
Section 9 ~ Know if your dog is in heat
has compiled the following tips to help make area dog parks both safe
and enjoyable for you and your dog. Please remember that dogs, like
all animals, can be unpredictable in unfamiliar situations, and so you
must WATCH YOUR DOG closely, as you would watch a young child. We offer
these dog park user tips, which should help you enjoy the experience
at the dog park, however the H.D.P.A. cannot guarantee that following
these tips will eliminate all hazards. Always be careful and alert when
using any dog park.
familiarize yourself with the dog park you wish to visit before your
first visit with your dog. Become familiar with the Posted Rules for
the park (when you have your dog with you he may want to pull you into
the park before you have a chance to read the rules), talk to park users
and find out if there is any information a first time user should be
aware of. Most dog park Rules are very similar but vary from park to
park. dog park etiquette however is universally the same. Obey the posted
Rules, pick up after your dog, and make sure your dog doesn’t
cause problems for others. (Human or Canine)
you use the dog park, Know your Dog! Check your ego at the gate and
be realistic rather than idealistic when it comes to your dog’s
temperament. Is he a bully and pushy with other dogs? Is he shy and
timid? Is he old and might he feel vulnerable in this environment? dog
parks are great for most dogs, but for some you must WATCH YOUR DOG
very carefully to ensure they WANT to be there. If your dog lives with
another dog he may get along fine with that dog, but if he hasn’t
been introduced to strange dogs on a regular basis he may need time
to adjust to the many different doggie personalities he may encounter
at a dog park. Aggressive dog’s, even if he is your “best
buddy”, are not allowed and are not appreciated by others. No
matter how cute you think he is and no matter how much you want your
dog to be able to use the park, if he’s acting aggressively he
needs to leave.
parks are very busy on the weekends and on Holidays. For your first
couple of visits with your dog visit during the week, when the park
is not crowded, stay a short time, and keep these visits short and sweet.
You might also consider visiting one of the smaller parks the first
few times. Some dogs could get very frightened and run far away in a
large park. Some parks are large enough that your dog can run out of
sight, and out of hearing range of your voice command (making them even
more frightened because they feel lost).
dog has not interacted with other dogs and you are not sure if he will
get along you can find out how he may act meeting other dogs by inviting
another owner with a dog that is known to be dog friendly to meet at
a fenced location unfamiliar to both dogs (“neutral territory”)
and turn them both off leash (or just drop the leash on your dog to
drag on the ground) at a distance from each other. Let them meet on
their own terms. If an altercation does break out you will be right
there to intervene.
dog is very young (4 mos. is the normal age limit for dogs in a dog
park) or is timid by nature, please bring him often to the dog park
but not during busy usage times, and stay only for short time periods.
As his confidence grows make his visits longer. Some dogs never get
over the fear of dog parks. They are happier and safer at home.
have rough play styles and can be overpowering though non-aggressive.
If your dog is in any way menacing or continually annoying another dog--
please re-move your dog to another part of the park. Don’t wait
for someone to ask you to do the polite thing. Remember, a little common
sense and courtesy go a long way when the success and enjoyment of the
dog park relies on the people who use it.
are concerned that someone is not following the posted rules and he
or his dog is presenting a problem for others (even after receiving
considerate requests from others to comply) please do not hesitate to
call for help from park constables or park rangers to handle the situation.
Do not confront combative or argumentative individuals, just call the
authorities or leave the park (and call the authorities). Please see
our Resources page or
research information for your dog park authorities numbers and pre-program
these numbers into your cell phone or keep them in your car or wallet.
and do happen at dog parks, though not often. Many dog fights will end
faster than you can get involved - leaving the dogs only a little ruffled.
It is very natural dog behavior to decide who is boss with a little
tussle. Bringing treats in a dog park is also guaranteed to cause a
fight - that is why it is against the rules. Dog parks are for running
loose and playing, not training. Blood will typically only be drawn
if the fight goes on and neither dog backs down for several minutes.
If a fight occurs at a dog park and does not end quickly, and you feel
a need to intervene - pull the dogs apart by the back legs ONLY. Wheelbarrow
style. Never reach for collars or try to pick up a small dog being attacked.
Or you are VERY likely to get bitten. Grabbing even one dog ( the biggest
one ) by the back legs and walking backwards to pull them out of the
fight will usually end the fight - and you are safely far away from
any teeth. If you are afraid to grab the dog's back legs, you can try
to slip a leash made into a noose on the dogs back foot and pull him
away that way.
Please use your leash while in the parking lot or just outside the dog
park. This is the law but it is also a matter of common courtesy to
your fellow dog park users. UNLEASH your dog inside the double-gated
areas or just inside the dog park while other dogs are not immediately
close to your dog. When a leashed dog is greeted by off leash dogs,
the leashed dog will not be able to display normal doggie greetings
and he may feel trapped or threatened. If he does feel this way he may
act defensively and a tense situation may arise. When all dogs are off
leash they can display normal dog greeting signals and they can get
away from a pressure situation if they feel they need to. This is very
you use and the collar your dog wears may be something you may want
to consider while you are at the dog park. A snug fitting flat buckle
or snap together leather or nylon collar, with his tags attached, may
be a good choice while he is in the dog park. (Pinch, prong, or even
choke training collars may cause injury to another dog that may catch
his teeth or bottom jaw in it while playing with your dog.) Retractable
leashes or “Flexie” leads are not a good idea even in the
parking lot or outside areas of the park. These long thin cords can
get entangled around people or dog’s legs and panic or injure
others. These leashes can offer no help to you if your dog gets into
an altercation with another dog while inside the dog park. A regular
6 ft. leather or nylon leash (you should carry with you at all times
while in the dog park) can act as an emergency leash to help separate
dogs or quickly get control of them by putting the snap end of the leash
thru the hand loop and “turning the leash handle inside-out”.
This leash can then be quickly slipped over the dog’s neck or
back leg to gain control of a situation without having to reach in close
to grab a collar to attach a leash by the snap. This leash can also
be used in this way to add extra security from your dog slipping out
of his collar while you shower him off (no-one likes a cold shower at
first) at the dog park, by attaching the snap to his collar as usual
after you pass the “looped noose leash” around his neck.
the dog park presents a social outlet for both dogs and for people,
be advised to walk around the park as you enjoy conversations with other
users. People gathered closely with each other for periods of time will
find their dogs want to “gather” as well. This creates a
space that may be uncomfortably tight (socially) for some dogs and they
may get a little “testy” with each other.
carefully consider whether you want to bring small children into a dog
park, if they are allowed. Please observe park rules if children are
prohibited. It is for your child's own safety after all.
of Houston Dog Parks all have a rule of no children under 12 allowed
in the park. County dog parks do not have this rule generally.
Opinions differ greatly about the safety of small children in dog parks,
and whether they should be allowed or not. It is important parents are
informed and stay alert of certain issues in order to make good decisions
so we share them with you here:
child may be familiar and get along fine with your own dog, however,
please be advised while only non-aggressive dogs are allowed in the
dog park, some dogs do not live with or understand small children
and may be unpredictable around them.
playful, running dogs can easily knock down adults, and a young child
could be unintentionally hurt by being knocked down if a large dog
bumps into him.
parks are not children’s play grounds and extra care must be
you want to bring your child to the dog park to show them "all
the doggies" - please note: Children who have not been around
dogs could become very frightened suddenly even by a friendly dog,
and dogs sense fear and react to it in odd ways.
is not easy to closely watch your children and WATCH YOUR DOG while
in a dog park but both must be done equally for the safety of all.
a child with you does not excuse you from picking up after your dog
or from controlling his actions.
do decide to bring your children to a dog park we suggest you follow
you go to the park, have a talk with your children to make sure they
are confident around all dogs, and they understand that they could get
hurt if they do not follow these rules:
sure they understand that not every dog is as nice as theirs, and
not every dog is accustomed to children.
running or screaming is allowed in the dog park.
not chase the dogs, do not approach them, and especially do
not pet them (unless the owner says it's ok and the parent
says it's ok).
approached by dogs, just stand still and ignore them, do not raise
your arms as that will most likely trigger the dog to jump on you
and it could knock you over on accident.
be cautious when allowing a small dog to play in a mixed or large dog
Even in play, a larger dog could seriously injure a small dog if the
size difference is too great. Even though aggressive dogs are not allowed
in the park, the prey instinct while running and chasing can overly
excite even the nicest large reactive dog and this could turn into a
potentially dangerous situation for the smaller dog. In parks with water
features size of swim buddies could also present a problem for smaller
dogs when the water is too deep for them to stand.
many problems can be proactively avoided if all parties WATCH YOUR DOG!
When available, it is advised that little dogs play in little dog areas.
a rule in most dog parks (and is just plain common sense) females in
heat are not allowed. This is for obvious reasons. You should also know
that intact non neutered males are statistically responsible for most
dog fights and bites in the country. If you do not plan to become a
breeder, please consider strongly the option of spay and neuter. Please
check our Resource page
for low cost Spay-Neuter programs.
also read the official county and city dog park RULES,
they take precedence and rules vary by park.
Fun, stay safe, and please take pride in your Texas dog parks!
For complaints or concerns about dog
parks or please that manages the park in question.
Use our page for questions or comments.
you very much. HDPA