Dog Parks - What Are Your Rights | Pet Quest

Your Rights At the Dog Park

Do you visit the dog park with your dog? Do you know what your rights and responsibilities are when you visit your local dog park? If not then keep reading as the informed pet owner is a good pet owner.


Dogs just want to be dogs and run, but in most places having your pet on a leash is the law. To get around this most municipalities have local dog parks where you can let your dog run off leash. As a pet owner you have certain responsibilities when it comes to dog parks and your pet.

All dog parks have rules which are posted somewhere nearby. As a responsible pet owner it is your duty to follow the rules of the dog park.

For the most part your visits to the park will be uneventful. Your dog will do what dogs do at the park. He will run, chase his buddies, and do a whole lot of sniffing.

However, if your dog gets a bit out of hand, it’s your job to assess the situation and gain control. And you have a right to expect the same from fellow pet owners — but not everyone is as responsible as you are nor can every wrong turn be foreseen. So who’s responsible if something goes awry?

Your Legal Rights

Basically pet owners are completely responsible for damages caused by their pet. This means that you are responsible for the cost of any damages as well as any veterinarian bills as well as medical care if a person is hurt by your dog.

Usually settlements will come in the form of a negotiated settlement. Sometimes, however, you may end up in small claims court or be charged criminally depending on the damage caused. And in many municipalities if this is a second offence on the dog it is possible that the dog will be seized and possibly euthanized as a dangerous dog.

There are exceptions, however. If the dog was protecting you from an attack by another dog or person you do have a chance. But expect a lengthy court battle in order to prove it as most of the time other pet owners do not want to appear in court over such matters.

Just remember that it is the pet's owner who is responsible for the safety of all in the dog park. If you feel that there is the slightest risk of aggression your dog you need to take immediate steps to ensure that a violent situation doesn't take place. This also goes for if you feel threatened by the other dogs in the park you should leave the area immediately.

Protecting Yourself and Your Dog

But what can you do to protect yourself and your dog. First, know some basic rules of dog park etiquette. Some of the basics that you should follow are:

  • Don’t bring a puppy who's under 4 months old to the dog park.
  • Don’t use treats and toys when other dogs are around.
  • Don’t allow your dog to bully another pet.
  • Stay off your phone and pay attention to your dog.
  • Make sure that your dog is current with vaccinations.
  • Watch the other dogs in the park to size up the situation before letting your own pet loose.

The bottom line here is that it is up to all dog owners to do what they can to avoid and stop conflicts. The responsible pet owner will take all the necessary steps so that Fido can get in some good ol' running time at the dog park.

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5 thoughts on “Your Rights At the Dog Park

  1. It’s unfortunate that most dog owners do not know what their rights are at the dog park. It’s also a good idea to check with your local city hall to find out what the rules are for using a dog park. In my city the dog must be licensed and registered with the city. They must also have all of their shots up to date. And the owner must clean up after their pet. Many of which do not.

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