Dog parks are great ways to let your dog run off-leash socialize with other dogs and get exercise; however, there are basic understood, etiquette rules which are important to know before entering an off-leash dog park. Be an informed dog owner, so that you and your dog can both have fun at the dog park. Dog parks are not a right, they are a privilege - entering the dog park with knowledge and a positive attitude will make it much more enjoyable and a better place for all who visit.
Off-leash dog parks are a wonderful recreational outlet for dogs, giving them an opportunity to run and play with other dogs in a securely fenced environment is an important social development tool for dogs. Unfortunately, not every dog park is filled with responsible owners, and as in most things, a few unmannerly people can ruin the whole experience for most. Make sure you're not one of those humans by following these basic etiquette tips for the bark park. These common sense guidelines should be taken into consideration when bringing your dog to the dog park. If you are new to the park, these guidelines will help you understand the cultural environment of the park and don't be surprised or offended if regular park goers kindly share some of these with you if they see that you are new.
Once you and your dog get to the dog park, it's tempting to just stand back and watch all the activity. However, it is important to realize that different dogs enjoy and benefit from the park in different ways so keep this in mind. Be sure to take your dog's temperament into consideration and don't assume s/he's having a good time – watch your dog's demeanor and make an informed judgment about how happy s/he is to be there.
It is the law to keep dogs on leash outside of the park. Animal Control Officers will give you a citation for any dog not on a leash. Additionally, several dogs have been killed on Laguna Canyon/CA 133 when they unexpectedly darted off after a ball, a rabbit, a moving bicycle or car. Be responsible, don't put your dog at this risk and ensure their safety.
Often in high traffic times at the park, people will be exiting the park at the same time that others are entering. Please be considerate and communicate with the other dog owner and allow one to pass out of the park first with their dog to avoid any potential bad behavior by dogs. Entering or leaving the park can create anxiety for dogs and its best to take this into consideration.
. Our park's rules are on this website and posted at the entrance of the park. Failure to obey the rules can result in your park being shut down, or worse, cause a serious accident that could have been prevented.
. It is the law that no alcohol or smoking is allowed in this park. Food of any kind is not allowed in this park.
The ring ends can get caught on other objects as well as other dogs' collars. Leave on your dog's regular collar with ID and license while in the park.
. It's really best not to bring more dogs than you can handle, even if that number is less than allowable limit. All rules must be abided by and it is your responsibility to supervise your dogs. No dog training, or commercial dog walker services are allowed in this park.
. Use common sense when choosing which side of the park to take your dog into play. Puppies, injured or older dogs should go into the small dog park as well as any dogs less than 35lbs. Please keep in mind that these types of dogs enter the large dog park at their owner's risk. There is a very good reason why we have a designated small dog and large dog area. Even if you think your small dog likes to play with the big dogs, keep in mind that this doesn't always translate for the larger dogs. Many large dogs will regard small dogs, injured dogs or puppies as prey and could bully, gang up or harm your dog. Please respect this designation and if you choose to enter the large park, and an altercation occurs with a larger dog, please remove your dog and go into the small dog area.
. All dogs entering this park must be licensed. Don't bring your unvaccinated dog or puppy in a park full of other dogs. This will surely create the rapid spread of disease, some that could be fatal, especially to young puppies. Puppies under four months are not allowed in the park and it is recommended that pups under 12 months should remain in the small dog park.
. Never bring your sick dog to a dog park! It's just common sense but it's amazing how many people will bring a dog that's currently suffering from kennel cough, or has fleas, or mange, or other health problems.
Most females go into heat twice a year and are considered to be "in heat" for 21 days & days going in, 7 days in heat, and 7 days going out. Male dogs can sense females in heat through pheromones and this can cause extreme aggression in other dogs, both females and males. Taking a female dog in heat out into a dog park is unbelievably irresponsible, and is not allowed in this park. Intact Males must be closely supervised as this provokes aggression and dog fights in the park. If your intact male is involved in any altercation, regardless of which dog started it, please leave.
. Dogs are the only pets allowed into this park. For the safety of all concerned, no animals other than dogs are prohibited in the park.
. Dogs love to meet and greet newcomers. Please pay special attention when entering and exiting so no dog has a chance to run out.
Do this before releasing your dog into the park. A leashed dog can excite problem dogs into aggression. Dogs can also be more aggressive when leashed due to the loss of control over their environment. They may feel frustrated, anxious and or threatened and since they can't do what they instinctually do (flee or fight) to protect themselves and/or their owners they do what they can, they bark and lunge. It is safer to leash your dog up within the safety gates and not in the dog park itself.
. Dogs are pack animals and it is a regular occurrence for dogs to run, to greet and inspect new dogs entering the park. If you are concerned, wait for the dog owners to reach the gates to remove their dogs away. Do not enter the park with your dog on a leash as this will often cause the other dogs to become aggressive to the new entering dog. Lifting your dog or picking up your dog, is also not wise to do because it can cause the other dogs to see your dog as having a weakness and they can gang up on your dog; or, cause your dog to become protective of it's owner and aggressive.
. Dog parks often become great social venues for dogs and for their owners. However, first and foremost your responsibility as a dog owner is to supervise your dog and always keep your dog in view and under control (especially when children are near). You cannot supervise your dog if you are preoccupied talking on cell phones, not looking at your dog while you engage in social conversations or reading a book. Also, please remember that certain human behaviors can be upsetting to dogs such as using headphones, listening to music, whistling in the dog park – none of which are a good idea.
. It is your responsibility to pick up after your dog while they are in the park. Leaving piles for other dog owners to clean up is rude and could result in you being fined or you and your dog being banned from the park. We want to prevent the spreading of disease and intestinal parasites, so please pick up after your dog. It is also your responsibility to pick up items that have been destroyed by your dog (water bottles, Frisbees, tennis balls, etc) and if your dog digs a hole, be responsible, and fill it back in. There is a shovel and bucket located in the back east side of the park for you to take care of these holes. Holes create injury not just to people but to other dogs, causing injuries which require surgery and great expense to owners.
It may be difficult to tell on certain dog breeds but some known signs of aggression to be aware of: teeth bared, growling, biting, eyes narrowed, ears up and/or forward, stalking of other dogs, eye contact sustained and direct, brow furrowed, tail is likely to be high up and arched over the rum, the fur along their backs stands up like a ridge and the stance and chest is forward. If your dog is being too aggressive, it's best to leave the park immediately to avoid conflicts with other dogs or people. If a fight starts, all involved dog owners should immediately help break it up. Remain calm and never reach in or put a body part between the fighting dogs. Instead, spray water in the dogs face, distract them by throwing something near them, make a loud noise, or toss an article of clothing over the dogs; and, when they separate, take your dog and leave the park. Seek appropriate medical treatment when injury occurs. (Remember, dog bites to humans are dangerous and painful – seek medical attention if bitten).