Visiting San Luis Obispo County Dog Parks

by Paula O’Farrell, President, Parks4Pups

San Luis Obispo County is fortunate to have so many wonderful dog parks and dog friendly events for visitors and residents to enjoy. A complete list of dog parks and upcoming local events is available at www.parks4pups.org, a website sponsored by a non-profit organization that coordinates many local dog events.

Annual events include a 4k/2k Dog Jog in Paso Robles in March, Dog Splash Days at the Templeton Community Pool in September, and Dogtoberfest and Weiner Dog Races in Atascadero in October.

Most local dog parks are operated by volunteer groups that rely on donations and events to fund park maintenance. So be sure to leave a donation in the donation boxes to support these worthy groups.

All County dog parks have rules clearly displayed at each park entrance. Be sure to read the rules before entering the park. In addition to the rules, visitors are expected to follow “dog park etiquette,” --guidelines for good behavior in the park:

Let your dog off-leash after you have entered the first outer gate but before you enter through the second gate. Leashed dogs may feel threatened and growl when off leash dogs greet them. Keep walking after you have entered the park. This keeps the off leash area neutral territory.

Watch your dog at all times. Always keep your eye on your dog; mischief can happen quickly. Watch your dog for signs of aggression or playing too rough and correct the situation by taking him home. Aggressive dogs are not allowed at any time in the park.

Do not crowd the gates. Do not allow your dog to crowd the gate to greet new arrivals. This can be very threatening to a new visitor or a timid dog. Most aggressive encounters occur at the park gates.

Scoop the poop. Always clean up after your dog. Pick up not only after your dog, but also any extras you might see. Help us keep our park clean.

Train your dog in basic obedience. Practice recall commands when you enter the park and during your visit. In the event of a dog fight, you can prevent injuries to your dog if you have good recall training and can call him out.

Keep your dog current with vaccinations. Make sure that your dog is current on all shots, including Bordatella for kennel cough. Don't bring dogs younger than 4 months to the park. They won't have all of the necessary inoculations to allow them to play safely with other animals. If you’re unsure, consult with your veterinarian.

Spayed/neutered animals are recommended. Do not bring a female dog in heat.Be aware that unneutered adult male dogs can provoke aggression simply by posturing and eye contact with other dogs. Several San Luis Obispo County parks do not allow unneutered adult dogs. Be sure to check the park rules before entering the park.

You are responsible if your dog inflicts an injury.If your dog inflicts an injury, give your name and phone number to the other dog owner before leaving the area.

Be careful bringing small children into a dog park. Do not allow children to run or scream around the dogs. Some dogs may mistake a running child for another playing dog or even a wild animal. Not all dogs are friendly with children.

Be careful with cigarette butts and food. Cigarette butts are dangerous for dogs. Many dogs become aggressive around food. Please keep food to a minimum in the park and dispose of all food items and cigarette butts in the trash containers. Most San Luis Obispo County Parks ban cigarette smoking in the parks.

See you at the dog park!