Off Leash Park Etiquette

Off Leash Park Etiquette

Many towns and cities throughout North America have designated specific green spaces as "off leash dog parks" However, just because the local bylaw states that your dog can be off leash, this doesn't mean he can be out of control. While in an off leash area, all rules of common courtesy and dog-related bylaws still apply.

One of the biggest complaints of people who frequent city parks and pathways, not just off leash parks, but all parks, is the huge volume of dog feces that is not picked up by dog owners. Not only does this pose a public health problem; it is in defiance of "Stoop and Scoop" bylaws. (Fines for failing to pick up after your dog range from city to city but can be upwards of $250!)

Responsible dog owners worked hard to convince their City or Town Council of the need for off leash parks. Non-dog owners can just as easily rally behind an effort to change an off leash park's designation if dog owners continuously fail to be courteous and keep the park clean.

Designated off leash areas are usually marked with a special sign. For information on parks in your area, contact your local animal control centre for information. 

Off Leash Park Etiquette

Always keep your dog leashed while getting in and out of your vehicle or walking through the parking lot. Remember that it is the park, not the parking lot, that is an off leash area! Carry at least three plastic bags: one to pick up after your dog, one to pick up a mess left by someone else and a third just in case Fido goes twice!

  • Have your leash with you at all timescyou never know when you may need to restrain your dog.
  • Keep your dog within sight and ensure that he will come when called. Call him back frequently, give him a treat and then let him run again. This makes the recall a pleasant experience for you and your dog.
  • Never allow your dog to chase or harass wildlife. 
  • Never allow your dog to run up to other dogs or people, especially children and seniors.
  • Be watchful of joggers, cyclists, and in-line skaters. These fast moving people often trigger a chase response in many dogs.
  • Remember that access to an off leash park is a privilege, not a right!

Did you know?

  • A dog that is spayed or neutered is less likely to be aggressive and fight with other dogs.
  • Certain breeds of dogs have been selectively bred for generations to run away from their handlers. Siberian Huskies, Malamutes, Dalmatians, and most hound breeds are good examples. If your dog fits this category, an obedience class is an absolute must!

Article submitted by: © Terri Perrin (Biography & Additional Information)

Image: Rob van Esch/via Shutterstock

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