BARK Ranger Program
BARK Ranger is a really great program that some dog friendly National Park Service destinations run. The BARK Ranger program teaches dog owners responsible behaviors with their dogs, and in return you get a reward. In most cases, it’s a special dog tag that’s different for each park (note: some parks give you the tag free upon completion, some allow you to purchase it). It varies, though -- some parks give out bandanas, waste bag dispensers, and other things. [Jump to the Full List of Parks »]
B.A.R.K. is an acronym for:
- B: Bag your poop
- Help keep the park clean by bagging and picking up your dog poop, and properly disposing of it. Don’t leave your bagged poop on the side of the trail, hanging from branches, or throw it into the woods. Please note dog poop is not a natural fertilizer — it can carry disease that can spread to wildlife or other dogs.
- A: Always wear a leash
- Dogs must be restrained on a leash no longer than 6'. Retractable leashes that extend beyond 6' are not allowed. Not everyone appreciates a dog running up to them, and many people are scared or allergic to dogs — a leash prevents uncomfortable situations between your dog and others. Leashes also help protect your dog from running off if anything spooks them.
- R: Respect wildlife
- Dogs can chase or scare wildlife such as birds and turtles. They can also damage nesting areas. Some parks have wildlife, such as bears, coyotes, or wolves, that can threaten your dog. Please be respectful of wildlife with your dog, and if you do encounter wildlife, keep dog at distance to protect both your dog and the wildlife.
- K: Know where to go
- Know which trails allow dogs, and which don’t. Don’t leave dogs unattended in vehicles while you go off to hike. See the link below for more details.
You start the program by going to a park office and picking up a checklist. When you complete the checklist (see the BARK Ranger section link in an individual park for more info), you can get your special dog tag (or other reward). Many parks will also give you a certificate of completion along with the tag.
Note: The program does vary a little between locations, so please make sure you verify the details when you pick up your check list, or by viewing the link at the bottom of the BARK Ranger section at the specific park.
More Example Tags
Are we missing any parks here? Are we listing a park that no longer runs the program? Please feel free to let us know.
Have a photo of your dog at a park here and want to share? We love to get new photos and post them.
Last Modified: 7/5/2023