The perfect dog park isn’t hard to imagine: Dogs of all sizes frolicking on a lush, green field playing with one another free from their leashes, while their owners stand nearby with smiles on their faces.

However, like all communal spaces, it takes a joint effort to reach this idyllic point. With these five golden rules, all paw-rents at the park are guaranteed a pleasant day out with your pooches.

1.  Poop Duty

No one wants to see (or smell) dog poop lying around a park, especially if your dog accidentally steps on some and treks it back home. Yuck! To add to this, there are plenty of parasites and diseases that live in dogs’ waste–this makes it easy for dogs at the park to contract diseases if poop is just left behind.

To avoid this nasty problem, always, always clean up after your pup.

2.  Physically Ready

A day at the dog park means that your pooch will be in close contact with other doggies–this increases his chances of catching a virus or spreading one if your dog is already sick.

Firstly, you should refrain from taking your pregnant dog to the dog park. The viruses that are prevalent in these dog parks could harm your soon-to-be mom or the little pup, and a tackle from another dog could potentially injure your pregnant dog.

Pregnant dogs may also become more aggressive as they feel protective over the puppies that they are carrying. If she feels threatened by surrounding dogs, this might trigger her to be unreasonably aggressive.

As the dog park can be a breeding ground for germs, make sure that Fido is current on his vaccinations and that he is more than 12 weeks old.

3.  “Come Back!”

It’s important to be able to call your pooch back to you especially in dog parks, which are one of the few open spaces where you are legally allowed to unleash your dog.

When your dog is able to respond to your commands, stopping potentially aggressive behaviour and leaving the park with your dog become a breeze.

4.  Social Skills 

Dogs don’t particularly enjoy socialising with other canines that lack social skills, just like how we hate striking up a conversation with that one rude person at a party. If you know your dog does not have good social skills or tends to be aggressive towards other dogs, it might be wise to invest in some training, or observe your dog’s reaction around a smaller group of pooches before taking Fido to the dog park.

A dog that doesn’t like to share could also pose a problem for other dogs at the park, since all your pooch’s toys and treats would be up for grabs by any dog around. You can prevent a bad fight from breaking out by simply leaving treats and toys at home.

5.  Stay Vigilant  

It’s important to make sure that you are always aware of your dog’s whereabouts. Just as you should make sure that your dog isn’t displaying aggressive or violent behaviour, you also need to be vigilant in stopping any other dogs that may harm your pooch.

Don’t be afraid to step in when you think your dog is threatened and take him out of the park if you need to.

* This article was updated on 17 Jul 2020. It first appeared in Pets Magazine, 2 Mar 2017.