How to Introduce Your Puppy to the Dog Park

Your puppy’s first trip to the dog park is a huge experience that will surely cause your pup’s excitement to shoot through the roof!  If your puppy has never before encountered or played with other dogs, then the trip could become overwhelming. Without the right preparation, in fact, your puppy may not enjoy the outing, […]

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Your puppy’s first trip to the dog park is a huge experience that will surely cause your pup’s excitement to shoot through the roof! 

If your puppy has never before encountered or played with other dogs, then the trip could become overwhelming. Without the right preparation, in fact, your puppy may not enjoy the outing, which could cause difficulties in the future. 

In this article, Petland Kansas City lays out everything new puppy parents should do to prepare their furry friends for their first trip to the dog park.


For brand-new puppy parents, there are a number of precautions that you must take before you bring your puppy to a dog park. Firstly, unless your puppy is at least 16 weeks old (4 months) and has also been fully vaccinated, you simply can’t take him to a dog park because it isn’t safe. 

In order to prepare your puppy for the dog park, we recommend that you continue to socialize your puppy, making specific efforts to introduce him to environments that are similar to dog parks. This could encompass taking your puppy on an outing to a regular park where there aren’t dogs, taking him to a friend’s or neighbor’s house where he can explore the backyard, or bringing him to other locations where he can experience new things without the risk of being exposed to common dog diseases.   

Talk to your puppy’s vet and schedule your puppy’s vaccination appointments so that you can stay organized about following through with getting your puppy fully vaccinated. There are 4 core vaccinations that all puppies need, which are for canine distemper, infectious canine hepatitis, canine parvovirus, and rabies.   


Preparing your puppy for the day when you can bring him to a dog park also includes teaching him basic commands and making sure he’s properly trained. One of the biggest joys that your puppy will experience at a dog park is the freedom of running around off-leash and meeting the other dogs. As you can probably imagine, if you allow your puppy off leash but he doesn’t know any commands, then he could get hurt. 

Training your puppy and making sure he consistently obeys your commands is an important part of being a good pet parent. You’ll know your puppy is ready to receive dog park privileges when he knows and obeys the following commands:

  1. Come
  2. Drop it
  3. Leave it
  4. Down
  5. Stay
  6. Sit 
  7. Off

Puppies are excitable and when a young puppy gets involved in playing, he’s more likely to become so distracted that he doesn’t notice you or hear your commands. However, as a puppy gets a little older and wiser, he’ll naturally grow attentive to you, even if he’s playing, because he’s loyal to pleasing you at all times. Try to take note of your puppy’s maturing process. You’ll start to notice when he has made this shift. 

A good rule of thumb is to only bring him to a dog park when he knows these basic commands and you trust him to obey you even if he’s playing. You can test this out by having him play with a friend or other family member, and then calling him to you. If your puppy ignores you and keeps playing, then he isn’t ready for the dog park. Likewise, when you’re playing with him, you can test him by telling him to “drop it” regarding a toy. He should drop it right away. If he doesn’t, then keep working with him. 

With consistent training, your puppy will eventually prioritize obeying you over whatever enjoyment he happens to be getting from playing. A well trained dog will prefer to please you, and not himself.  


Not all dog parks are created equal, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Many dog parks offer separate fields for each dog size. Small dogs play together in one area, medium-sized dogs in another, and large dogs in yet another. But there are also many parks that don’t have this degree of segregation. This may or may not be a problem. 

We recommend that you do some internet research and learn about the dog park options near you. Reading the comments of other dog owners can shed a great deal of light on what you can expect at any given dog park. You can find out about the amenities at the park, such as doggy water fountains, agility courses and other obstacle courses, and how large or small the park is, too. 


Congratulations! Your puppy is trained and trustworthy! He has received all of his vaccinations! And he’s met enough people, children, and other animals that you trust he’ll behave at a dog park. Best of all, after much research, you’ve found the perfect dog park to bring your puppy to!

There are certain supplies you should bring with you. By bringing these, you can ensure that you’ll have everything your puppy may need. Those include:

  1. Collar with ID tag (your puppy should also be microchipped)
  2. A leash and / or harness
  3. Poop bags
  4. Fresh water & a water bowl
  5. Towels (for your puppy to sit on in the car in case he gets muddy playing)

There are certain items that you should not bring to a dog park, which are:

  1. Doggy treats (you don’t want to attract all the dogs in the park)
  2. Your puppy’s favorite toys (dogs are possessive and if another dog steals your puppy’s toy, it could start trouble)
  3. Small children (a herd of excited dogs can easily stampede a small child)

When you arrive at the dog park with your puppy for the first time, it’s okay to take it slow. Most importantly, keep your puppy on his leash and / or harness at first. Walk him around the park and let him smell things and get a sense of what the park is like. Test him with a few commands while he’s on his leash to assess how excited / distracted he is, or if he’ll obey you easily. 

Also, you should get a lay of the land yourself. Are there a lot of dogs there? Where are their owners? Are the large dog breeds playing with the small dog breeds? Are there any safety hazards?

If you feel comfortable with the park, the other dogs, and the scene on the whole, you can let your puppy off his leash, but stay close to him. Always supervise his play and never take your eyes off of him. You’ll want to keep his water bowl nearby and offer him drinks frequently to make sure he doesn’t get dehydrated. But don’t make him drink. His body will tell him if he’s thirsty or not. 

Lastly, once all is said and done, and you put your puppy back in your car, reward him with a doggy treat and lots of love and affection! 

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