Dogbone Meadow


Novato Boulevard, West of the Equestrian Center at O'Hair Park

 100_5141     100_5139



Hours: Open between sunrise and sunsetDog Running


 Dog Park Etiquette

Dog parks can be great places to take your dogs to exercise and socialize them, and most dogs are very happy to share the space. Of course there are some general guidelines that should be followed to help everyone (canine and human) get along (excerpts provided by Marin Humane Society). Here are some:

  • Clean up after your dog. It's very unpleasant - not to mention unhealthy -for dogs to play in a field liberally doffed with leavings.
  • Take off choke chains before letting your dog loose in the park. Many a dog has been choked when a playmate grabs onto the chain; and some teeth can be lost to the grabber as well.
  • Neutered and spayed dogs are more likely to play with a group. Intact males will often try to mount other dogs in the park, and some will attack other dogs - especially other intact males. Females in season (heat) can inadvertently cause dogfights, and are sometimes very testy themselves.
  • Some dogs - neutered or not - will try to mount other dogs while playing. This is a dominance behavior, and excessive amounts should not be allowed. The dog being mounted could easily take offense, and a fight could ensue.
  • Some dogs are not suited for dog park playing, or need some work before introducing them to a group.
  • Dominant aggressive dogs should not play in parks with other dogs. Keeping them on leash increases the aggression, whereas letting them off leash eliminates your control.

Proper Socialization

If a dog has been properly socialized by her owner, she has played with many different dogs since she dog imagewas a tiny pup - first, her siblings, then playmates picked by the owner (with due regard given to immunizations). Dogs MUST have that socialization, or they do not learn how to relate to or communicate with other dogs.

This is also true with regard to socializing with humans - from 6 weeks to 16 weeks, the pup should have extensive experience with a variety of humans, including ones that wear hats, are in wheelchairs, and otherwise appear different.

During socialization, pups learn which behaviors are acceptable to their peers, and which cross the boundaries of good taste. When one pup bites another too hard, the bitten pup lets out a (very loud) yelp, and promptly bites him back. This teaches bite inhibition, and helps dogs set limits on behavior. This is, of course, just a small part of socialization, but it's very important, and the lack of it can lead to major behavioral problems, including how to play with other dogs.

Unfortunately, many pups do not get this socialization. In addition, many pups are born with temperaments that tend to make them suspicious or fearful of other dogs (puppies can inherit fearful temperaments from their mothers or fathers).

So, if you have a puppy or adult dog that appears frightened or threatened by other dogs, should you just skip the dog park? Perhaps, but not necessarily. What about a dog that tends to attack other dogs - is it solitary walks for life? Again, perhaps, but not necessarily. Consulting a trainer or behavior counselor will help you make the decision.

dog imageMenacing or threatening behavior that otherwise threatens or endangers the safety of any person or domestic animal or a dog that bites is considered aggressive behavior for Dogbone Meadow.

Human behavior is important too. At dog parks, many people tend to bunch up in one area, chatting, while the dogs play unsupervised. It's much better if you (and your friends) circle the park, so that your dog has to keep looking to find you. This tends to prevent them from forming gangs that then pick on a weak dog. And it also gives you a bit of exercise!

Dog Parks... Responsible Play

Benefits of Dog Parks - most interaction at dog parks is positive

  • Exercise for both your dog and you
  • Safety for dogs and for non-dog people
  • Socialization for dogs and their owners
  • Provides a dedicated off leash area for dogs to roam freely

Dog Parks are Not:

  • A place to drop off your dog and leave them unsupervised
  • Designed for children; playgrounds in town are dedicated to their fun and enjoyment
  • For everyone, people or pets
  • Free from periodic dog altercations and slightly rough play

What You Can Do to Make This a Great Facility:

At the Entrance:

  • Use the double gate entry correctly; don't let dogs escape
  • Watch for the canine crowd whenever a new dog arrives and help to keep it friendly
  • Hold or watch your young child, so they are not knocked over by the canine greeting committee
  • Remove your dog's leash before you open the interior gate and enter the play area
  • Remove toys and balls from turf when you are done - Wednesday is mowing day

Keep Moving

  • So your dog has to search for you
  • To help keep the grass alive
  • And do not stand in the middle of the turf or in front of the entry gate
  • To get exercise for you and your dog

And always remember to:

  1. Only allow your dog on the agility equipment; please humans, do not sit or stand on the equipment
  2. If you spot a stray dog in the park, an overly aggressive dog, or an injured dog, call the Marin Humane Society
  3. If your safety is threatened while using this facility, call the Police
  4. Follow the Use Rules
  5. Do not drink alcohol in this facility, coffee or water are better choices
  6. Active supervision of your dog is required
  7. Meet a new neighbor by having a friendly conversation while you are here
  8. Teach your dog to use the agility equipment for fun and exercise
  9. Call your dog off if another dog seems bothered, scared or afraid of your dog
  10. Remove your dog if he/she is having a bad day at the park, it happens
  11. Please do not post signs, advertisements or flyers on the fence
  12. The responsible use of dog parks falls directly on owners and their ability to manage their dog effectively.
  13. Dogs that may not be good candidates for Dog Parks
  14. Fearful, unsocialized or slightly unsocialized dogs are the most likely to utilize unacceptable aggression.
  15. Dominant, strong willed dogs are the most likely to use environment to intimidate and bully
  16. Paper Tigers - dogs that try to be dominant but lack the temperamental stability to be confident. They then seek out and pick on weaker dogs
  17. Dogs that live together. They can draw on each other for support.

Informed Owners

  • Are aware of their own dogs' limitations and weaknesses.
  • Have enough voice control to pull their dog out of a situation so that they can prevent dangerous levels of arousal.
  • Can recognize and be willing to leave the dog park in order to protect their own dog's safety and that of other dogs.
  • Recognize that dog parks are designed for dogs and not as a children’s playground.
  • Actively supervise and are responsible for their young child(ren)'s safety if they choose to bring them inside the dog area.

Uneducated Owners:

  • Have less control over their dog than they think
  • Use dog parks as babysitters
  • Are unaware of the effects of high arousal and how it contributes to their dogs behavior... (i.e. chasing other dogs, territorial display, or possession aggression)

What You Can Expect:

  • To meet someone new and learn something about other dog owners and their dog
  • Owners know their dog and their dogs behavior better than anyone else
  • To see a dog growling at another dog once in a while
  • Dogs playing slightly rough sometimes
  • To hear a yelp occasionally as a puppy learns to interact and play appropriately
  • People's perspectives about appropriate behavior of dogs and of people using the park vary widely.
  • Some dog owners are more responsible about cleaning up after their dog than others
  • Playing dogs may run into people, including children, so be aware of park happenings
  • If you wear clean clothes, they may get dirty
  • If your dog arrives clean to the park, he/she may get dirty, muddy or wet
  • Small and large dogs play in the same area, there is no separate small dog area
  • Someone may bring a plastic pool to the park and your dog may get wet
  • You and your dog will have fun!!!


Dog Park is closed between sunset and sunrise. (NMC 10-33)

1. Owner/Handler of dog(s) must be present inside the fenced area at all times with their dog(s). (NMC 10-33)

2. No Aggressive Dogs are permitted within the Dog Park.
* Aggressive Behavior is established if a dog bites any person or domestic animal or has been found to otherwise threaten or endanger the safety of any person or domestic animal. An Owner/Handler of a dog(s) which has displayed this type of aggressive behavior shall remove the dog(s) from the Dog Park immediately. (NMC 10-33)

3. No person shall have more than 3 dogs within the Dog Park at any one time. (NMC 10-33)

4. Please pick up after your dog! Immediate removal of feces deposited by your dog(s) is required. Discard waste in appropriate waste receptacle. (NMC 10-33)

5. All dogs must be licensed. Proof of license shall be in your possession while using this facility. (NMC 10-33)

6. Please do not sit, stand, or walk on agility equipment. Agility equipment is for use by dogs only, not by adults or children. (NMC 10-23)

7. No alcohol is permitted. (NMC 14-10.2)

8. No posting of signs, flyers, or cards is allowed, unless authorized by permit. (NMC 10-27)

9. Supervise your child(ren). It is strongly recommended that you supervise your young child(ren) while using this park. It is your responsibility to insure your child's safety while in this facility. Running and playing dogs can be very unpredictable.

10. It is recommended that no unneutered dogs or dogs in heat be brought into the Dog Park.

11. Courteous, friendly human behavior and respect for others is expected while using this facility.

Unlicensed, injured, menacing or threatening dogs, call Marin Humane Society at 883-4621
Non medical emergencies, call Novato Police at 897-4361.
Park Information, call City of Novato at 899-8200
Facility Problems, call City of Novato Maintenance at 899-8280

This park made possible by the City of Novato and D.O.G.B.O.N.E. volunteers.

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