Dog parks can provide an excellent source of exercise and socialization for both you and your canine companion. These parks generally provide a large, fenced-in area where dogs can run and play in safety, and many owners enjoy the benefit of meeting fellow dog lovers as well. There are some general guidelines that are required to ensure the safety of both your dog and other visitors of the park.

Weight and Size Regulations

Some dog parks are split into separate, fenced-in sections according to the weight and size of the dog. DO take these guidelines seriously and make sure your dog is in the correct area. DON'T assume that because your dog is old, gentle, or otherwise good-natured, that he is an exception to the rule. Large dogs can hurt smaller dogs, even unintentionally. If your dog is on the cusp of the weight restriction, choose the larger area to prevent injuries to other patrons.

Vaccination Requirements

Most dog parks require that your dog is up to date on all vaccinations including rabies, parvo, distemper and bordetella. DO make sure that your dog is up to date on these vaccines and be sure to have him wear his rabies tag. DON'T bring an unvaccinated puppy or older dog to the park. Not only are you putting your dog's health at risk, you are potentially endangering other dogs as well.

Aggressive Behavior

Dogs that are found to be habitually aggressive are generally banned from using the dog park, but there are rarely employees on site to check and enforce this. DO make sure that your dog plays well with others. If another dog is behaving aggressively toward your pet, politely ask the owner to control their dog's behavior. If they do not comply, remove your dog from the park until the other dog isn't present. DON'T bring your dog to the park if you know he has a tendency toward aggression. If your dog is a victim of aggressive behavior, do not escalate the situation by arguing with the other owner. Dogs are sensitive to our moods, and raised voices could turn a simple bullying situation into a full-fledged dogfight in a hurry.

Cleaning Up After Your Dog

All dog parks will require that you clean up any waste products left on the grounds by your dog. Some will provide little bags with which to do so. This is important, as besides being messy and smelly, waste products can often transfer parasites from one animal to another. Do always clean up after your dog and bring your own bags in the likelihood that the supplied bags are not there. DON'T assume someone else will clean up after your dog. It's your responsibility to pay attention to where your pet does his business and clean it up right away. The dog park is a valuable resource for pet owners, do your part to make sure it stays that way.