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Healthy Paws: Being a Good Neighbor — Dog Park Etiquette

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

We are very fortunate to live in such a pet-friendly community, but it is nevertheless important to respect our neighbors and community members, especially when it comes to dog parks. Here in Clarendon, the dog park is especially closely surrounded by residential buildings, making it all the more important to consider the rules and regulations of the parks.

As a refresher, these are the Arlington County rules and regulations relating to dog parks:

  1. All dogs must be licensed and vaccinated before entering a dog park.
  2. Dogs less than four months old are not permitted in a dog park.
  3. Female dogs in heat are not allowed in a dog park at any time.
  4. No food is allowed within the boundaries of a dog park.
  5. A handler/guardian may bring in no more than three dogs at a time.
  6. Professional dog trainers may not use any dog parks to conduct business, unless sponsored by Arlington County.
  7. All dogs must be leashed when entering and exiting a dog park.
  8. Handlers/guardians must be in possession of their dog’s leash at all times.
  9. Handlers/guardians must remain with their dog and be in view of their dog at all times.
  10. Handlers/guardians are responsible for the removing of dog waste from a dog park and disposing of it in a proper receptacle.
    Important a side note:  a recent random sampling of stools left behind at the Clarendon Dog Park revealed Giardia cysts, hookworms, AND roundworms! We see a surprisingly high number of cases of Giardia and other intestinal parasites in this area — picking up your dog’s poop doesn’t just apply to dog parks, but should be rule-of-thumb whenever you are out walking. Even in the backyard, these parasites are all very hardy and can persist in the environment for quite a long time.
  11. Dogs must be removed at the first sign of aggression. Aggressive dogs shall not be permitted within any designated off-leash dog parks. An “aggressive dog” is defined as a dog that poses a threat to humans or other animals. Handlers/guardians are legally responsible for their dog and any injury caused by them.
  12. Handlers/guardians must not allow their dogs to bark on a continuous or frequent basis.
  13. It is unlawful for any person who owns, possesses or harbors a dog to permit that dog to create a frequent or continued noise disturbance across a real property boundary or within a nearby dwelling unit.
  14. Handlers/guardians, prior to leaving a dog park, must fill holes dug by their dog.
  15. Dog grooming is not allowed in any dog park, unless it is part of an Arlington County-sponsored program.
  16. Parents must be in control of their children at all times in a dog park.
  17. Violations of the leash law, pooper-scooper law and running-at-large law can result in a summons to appear in court and a fine of $100.
  18. Both Rabies vaccination tags and County Dog License tags are required to be secured on your dog’s collar at all times.

While most “etiquette” as it relates to dog parks actually pertains to us as the handlers/guardians and not our dogs, there are some dogs that are better suited for play at a dog park than others and some things we, as owners, can be doing to ensure our dog has a good experience at the park.

Join us for a lecture/Q&A on Dog Park Etiquette with local dog trainer Leila Sheikhy of K9 Harmony Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. at our office at 3000 10th Street N, Suite B.

Have a pet-related topic you’d like us to address?  Send us an email at [email protected].

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

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