A light brown dog runs through a snowy field carrying a tennis ball.

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Basic Dog Park Etiquette

The upcoming Wolf Willow dog park is one of the most highly anticipated amenities coming to south Calgary. It’s an excellent place for both people and pets to get some exercise and socialization, but in order for the dog park to be a safe and welcoming place, everyone who visits should come prepared with some basic etiquette. While our community dog park isn’t open yet, these tips apply to all dog parks.

Basic Dog Park Etiquette:

  • Make sure your dog has their vaccines.
  • Make sure your dog has a collar with tags.
  • Make sure your leash is always on hand.
  • Make sure you’re always supervising your dog.
  • Clean up after your dog.
  • Don’t bring your dog if they are aggressive.

We’ve collected a bit of info on each of these points, so you can be confident that you’re contributing to a safe and fun experience whenever you visit a Calgary dog park.

Make sure your dog has their vaccines

This is a crucial step toward helping your pup make other dog friends along with keeping them healthy throughout their lives. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association has some good information about your dog’s vaccines available online.

Some common core vaccines include Canine Distemper, Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Canine Parvovirus, and Rabies. These vaccines should be updated every three years to be effective. Your vet should remind you whenever your canine friend’s vaccines are due to be updated at your regular health checkups.

Make sure your dog has a collar with tags

This one is pretty simple. In an off-leash setting with several acres to run and play, your dog may be excited or frightened and run off. While almost all off-leash parks (including the one coming to Wolf Willow) are fenced in, a collar with updated tags including your name, address, phone number, and your dog’s name, can help other people reunite you with your dog if necessary.

Make sure your leash is always on hand

Even in an off-leash park, having your leash handy is important. Paired with the essential collar from the previous point, a leash will help you quickly get a handle on your dog if needed. A leash is also important for getting to and from the dog park, since anywhere outside of designated off-leash areas you’ll need to keep your dog leashed.

Make sure you’re always supervising your dog

Part of what makes the dog park safe and fun for everyone is having so many people keep watch over the dogs. Even with everyone following all the standard etiquette, dogs’ interactions with one another can be unpredictable, so it’s important to stay vigilant and ready to act in case your dog needs help.

Clean up after your dog

Any responsible pet owner is already in the habit of cleaning up after their pup so this one shouldn’t be a challenge—especially with most dog parks including conveniently placed garbage cans for used waste bags. With everyone doing their part to keep the park clean, there should be no need to worry about your pup needing a bath when you get home.

Don’t bring your dog if they are aggressive

Finally, off-leash dog parks are not for everyone. It’s your responsibility as a pet owner to know how your dog would react to a large, open space filled with dogs and people they’re not familiar with. If you suspect based on past behaviours that they might respond to a surprise or an overly-enthusiastic new friend with aggression, then do everyone a favour and don’t bring them to the dog park. Stick with situations where you can be confident your dog will feel safe and calm, for their sake and everyone else’s.

While the plans for the Wolf Willow dog park are still being developed, residents can enjoy the nearby Southland Dog Park just north along the Elbow River. There are also several beautiful nature trails in Fish Creek Park, where you and your dog can enjoy on-leash walks together. You can access the park through our special Wolf Willow community entrance off 194 Ave SE.