For a dog lover, your furry friend might be just like a member of the family. So, should dogs be allowed on a disc golf course too?
There are certain times and places when a dog can be allowed on a disc golf course, but there are some rules, etiquette, and training tips to know first before bringing your dog to the disc golf course.
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Are Dogs Allowed on a Disc Golf Course?
Public disc golf courses are dog friendly and dogs will be allowed on the course during casual play. There can be some exceptions for particular courses that might not allow pets, but generally, a public disc golf course on public property will allow for dogs to be present with their owner as long as they are on a leash.
Public Courses vs. Private Courses
Rules for dogs on a disc golf course can be very different for public courses and private courses.
A public disc golf course is owned by the local municipality, county, or state and is generally funded by taxpayers. This means, as a resident taxpayer you’re technically paying for that disc golf course to exist.
But, that doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all with your dog out on the course. There will almost always still be a few rules to follow when bringing your dog to the course, such as leashing and cleaning up after the dog.
Besides, these rules are also just good dog etiquette no matter where you are with your dog, but especially in a public park or public disc golf course.
A private course is very different. It’s private because a business or individual owns that course and the land that is used for the course. This means they might have rules limiting dogs at the course, or even banning them altogether.
You probably wouldn’t bring your dog into someone else’s house or yard without asking permission first, and the same should be true for a private disc golf course.
Be sure to take the time to call the course beforehand and ask permission first. Explain that your dog is well behaved, on a leash, and will be cleaned up after. You never know, they might just say yes.
Disc Golf Tournament Play and Dogs
During casual play, it might be perfectly okay for a dog to be present on the course. But, during a tournament that can all change.
It doesn’t matter if the tournament is taking place on a public course either, it’s at the Tournament Director’s discretion whether dogs will be allowed or not.
Usually, for a disc golf tournament, you can assume that dogs will not be allowed. Players are competing for prizes, bragging rights, ratings, etc. Dogs can be a distraction not only for the owner but for the other players.
Unless the tournament is specifically created to be dog friendly, it’s almost always a safe bet that dogs won’t be allowed.
Rules For Dogs on a Disc Golf Course
Bringing your dog along for a casual practice round on the disc golf course can be fun for both dog and owner.
Whether there are specific rules posted at the course for dogs or not, there are still a few unwritten rules that every dog owner should be following to keep their dog happy, and anyone else that might be using the disc golf course that day.
1. Be Aware of Leash Laws
Leash laws can vary from state to state, and what can be even more confusing, local municipalities can create leash laws that can be more or less restrictive than the state-wide leash law.
Even if there are no signs or visible rules posted at a public disc golf course, that doesn’t mean there won’t be leash laws that are enforced.
Research a little before taking your dog to the disc golf course to understand what the leash laws are and how they might apply to your dog.
To check if your state has leash laws, check this map here to find out. Remember, that local governments might have enacted laws that will override state law, so better to check locally to be sure.
2. Make Sure There is No Excessive Barking
Dogs will occasionally bark, and most other players will agree that this is not an issue. But, if your dog has a habit of excessive barking it can become a nuisance and a distraction for others playing a round of disc golf.
Keep in mind that there can be plenty of distractions at the disc golf course. Flying discs, other players walking around, squirrels, and other critters that might be present can all attract the attention of your dog.
It’s always good etiquette to stay quiet for the benefit of other players concentrating on their game, so it’s also best practice to keep your dog from barking a lot too.
3. Owners Must Always Clean Up After Their Dog
No matter where you take your dog, it’s good dog etiquette and common sense to clean up after your dog as necessary.
No players want to land their disc in what your dog decided to leave behind on hole #8.
Always bring necessary sealed bags and items to clean up after your dog. If disposing of waste at the course, be sure to properly seal the bag so there is no smell or mess for someone else to clean up later.
4. Your Dog Should Be Able to Follow Basic Commands
One crucial factor to consider before bringing your dog to the disc golf course is its ability to follow basic commands.
These commands could include, sit, stay, or leave it alone. Your dog might be very well-behaved at home or in the backyard, but you might be surprised that when bringing them to a new place that’s outdoors they get very excitable and distracted.
If your dog can also follow some simple commands even when they are very excited is a good sign they are ready for the course.
5. Be Sure Your Dog Won’t Chase Discs
Another simple dog etiquette rule is that your dog should not be retrieving another player’s disc. Other players might not appreciate this and it can turn a fun afternoon into a sour experience quickly.
If the course allows and your dog is off the leash, be sure they are not tempted to go after other discs flying around on the course first.
6. Bring Water For Your Dog
The heat of the summer can be a dangerous time for your dog to be running around without enough water. Walking 18 holes of disc golf in the sun can be hot for a human, and even hotter for a dog.
Don’t forget to bring plenty of water and a collapsable bowl or other ways for the dog to drink the water.
Avoid turning a disc upside down and using it as a bowl. This can confuse a dog who knows they aren’t supposed to chew or chase a disc.
7. Don’t Play Solo With a Dog
Bringing the family dog to the disc golf course can be enjoyable for all. But disc golf also takes a fair amount of concentration to play.
If you’re playing alone with your dog, it’s best to leash when throwing, or better yet, to have another person who can keep an eye on the dog when you’re trying to concentrate on a shot.
You don’t want to be focusing on that putt and look up to see your dog is bothering other players on the next hole.
Ask a buddy or family member to play with you or come along to keep an eye on the dog when playing your next round with a dog.
Training Tips For Dogs on the Disc Golf Course
Any dog can be a good candidate to bring to the disc golf course with the right training. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind when bringing your dog to the course for the day.
1. Practice Disc Golf Specific Commands
On the disc golf course, there will be different stimuli that your dog might not normally encounter in the backyard or at other public places. Especially when it comes to discs flying around.
Most dogs love to chase objects that are thrown, and you might have a favorite ball to play fetch with your dog.
On the disc golf course though, this is a no-no. Practice disc golf-specific commands like “leave it alone” to help your dog understand not to chase or pick up a disc.
2. Practice Basic Commands Too
Before taking your dog to the disc golf course, brush up on their understanding of basic commands like sit, stay, or let’s go. This keeps your dog under control and at your side when playing a round.
3. Use a Clicker For Training
Some people might use treats when training their dogs to follow commands and behave correctly. Instead of hauling around a big bag of treats on the course, try switching to clicker training.
A dog who has been trained with a clicker will associate the clicker with positive reinforcement.
For more on clicker training, see this post.
4. Always Keep The Leash On To Start
It’s always best to keep the dog on the leash to start with. Until they are completely familiar and comfortable on the course, the best thing will be to leave your dog on a leash for the first time out on the course.
This can ensure that they can be well-behaved and follow directions before letting them free to roam.
What Happens If I Let My Dog Off the Leash on the Course?
If your dog is easily distracted or doesn’t always respond to commands, letting them off the leash at a public disc golf course can be a bad idea.
If you let your dog off the leash and it steals another player’s disc or is running free around the course, you’re going to open yourself up to possible repercussions or confrontations with other players.
You could even find yourself the subject to complaints like this one.
While some private courses allow dogs, these private courses might also can fine you, or ban you from playing the course again.
Summary | Dogs on the Disc Golf Course
You’ll find that dogs are almost always welcomed on public disc golf courses and that a well-behaved dog is barely noticeable by other players too.
Letting your dog tag along can be a great way to spend time with your dog and to also get them some great exercise and time outside.
The key is to follow basic rules and dog etiquette on the disc golf course.