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  • Rick Alto

How Do You Know When it’s Time to Leave the Dog Park?




Tips from Rick Alto, Certified Professional Trainer

It’s all about BALANCE! If any of these 9 signs apply, it might be best to call it a day and head home.


  1. If it’s too hot or too cold, limit your dog’s participation. Dogs do not self regulate well.

  2. If your dog is standing or keeps going to the entry/exit gate, they are most likely telling you that it is time to leave. The dog park is designed to have clear line of sight of your dog in both the large and small areas, and there is plenty of room for shy dogs to get away.

  3. If you do not like the energy of the dog park, or if you see a potentially dangerous scenario unfolding, leave the dog park.

  4. If a dog is repeatedly mounting (humping) your dog (a prohibited dominance behavior) and its owner is not intervening to stop the behavior, then you need to advocate for your dog.

  5. If another dog is bullying your dog, and its owner is not intervening to stop the behavior, then you need to advocate for your dog. If your dog keeps going back for more, then the play (although it may appear rough) is acceptable. Dogd are apex predators and they have teeth and nails and use them to communicate during play, as well as in aggressive behaviors. The key is to know the difference, and intervene, when appropriate and quite possibly leave the dog park.

  6. You cannot control the behavior of another owner and you can try and calmly advocate for your dog, but at the end of the day, you and your dog’s safety is paramount and you should choose to leave the dog park.

  7. If you are playing with a ball or toy and that resource becomes problematic with the other dogs, it is time to put the toy(s) away or leave the dog park. Dogs don’t have rational thought and they want what the other dogs have and this could lead to a resource guarding issue and a fight.

  8. If people are not picking up dog waste and will not pick it up, then you are running the risk of your dog stepping in waste and, it is possible to be infected if that offending dog was infected with intestinal parasites. You may want to consider leaving the dog park or sanitizing your dog’s paws before they attempt to lick them clean.

  9. If your dog is playing with a dog that is continually coughing, that dog could have kennel cough (highly contagious) and the droplets of saliva could very easily infect your dog during play. You may want to consider leaving the dog park even if your dog is vaccinated for kennel cough, as it is not 100% effective.

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