It’s that time of the year! Everyone’s going to be at the dog parks now more than ever with such nice weather afoot. But not just any dog should be at the dog park— here are some safety and etiquette tips when considering dog park fun.

First of all, if your dog doesn’t play well with others, bringing them to the dog park will not fix or rehabilitate their fear or aggression towards other dogs. Help from a trainer would be beneficial with your pet before attempting dog park play, if this is the case. When you do arrive at the dog park, watch the other dogs inside of the park for a few minutes first to see how they play and interact with the others, making sure they aren’t intimidating or being too rough.

Don’t be ashamed to muzzle your dog the first few times if you’re not sure how they will act to new dogs. There is usually a separate entry space at the front of the dog park which is a great place to let your dog stay for a moment and be introduced through the fence with the other dogs in the park. When entering from this separate space, be careful of other dogs as they tend to crowd the gate when opened for the new dog to enter and close encounter fights may ensue.

Avoid bringing toys or treats to the dog park unless the dog is okay with sharing or if you give the treat at a distance from other dogs. Whether or not it is posted, you also shouldn’t bring small children or babies in strollers into the dog park as other dogs may not do well with them and anything could happen in the blink of an eye. If any dog is being a bully in any situation, even if it’s your own, remove your dog from the situation or even further, from the park. All in all, dog parks can be a good place to have fun, just be on the lookout for your dog’s communication signals to make sure they are happy and having a good time.

Thanks to the Animal Behavior Associates for these dog park tips.