Dog parks have become so popular. Dogs love them, but just as important, dog owners love them. If you’re planning on getting a dog park rolling in your community, here’s a simple overview of what makes a great dog park and what to think about when you’re designing one.
If you need to garner support for a dog park, here are some ways they can benefit communities:
People need to realize that dog parks are terrific community resources, providing an assortment of much appreciated opportunities for leisure-time enjoyment.
You’re in the early stages, but you have a lot of issues to address. Is the available space at least an acre in size? Is the topography of the land conducive for building a dog park? (It’ll need to be fairly level to let dogs run around.) Is there shade from trees, or will shade structures be needed? Is there access to a water line for the needed dog/people fountain?
Not everyone will be walking to your park, so you’ll have to figure out whether there’s convenient parking nearby or whether a parking area will need to be created. Also, speaking of nearby venues, are there other parks nearby that are too close to the proposed dog park location? And will the dog park be accessible in regard to the Americans with Disabilities Act?
Okay, so you’ve figured out the planning. What do you want the dog park to look like? Here’s a basic standard design:
Your dog park should have fenced enclosures: One for large dogs (or, sometimes, for all dogs) and one for small dogs. The enclosure for the small dogs can be a quarter to a third of the total space, while the large dog enclosure will use the rest of the available space.
You’ll also need a small, fenced transitional entry area of about 100 to 150 square feet. This will need a main exterior gate through which all the dogs — safely on-leash, of course! — and their owners will enter. You’ll safely unleash your dog in this area and then choose one of the gates to guide your dog into the small or large fenced enclosures.
These are the basic requirements:
Of course, later on you can think about special features and optional components like agility equipment, fire hydrants, play equipment, and sculpture pieces.
After all your hard work, you should have a grand, festive opening. Your community will be excited to welcome this newest public park, and you should prepare for enthusiastic dog owners, family members, curious folks and, best of all, dogs of every shape and size imaginable! Throw in a variety of fun features and events and it can be a wonderful community celebration.
If you’re looking for additional detailed information, my book Dog Park Design, Development, and Operation offers a best-practices perspective from a parks professional. It offers a clear, understandable guide for how to establish and operate a safe, wonderful dog park facility. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to order a signed copy at the discounted price of $23, which includes free shipping.
About the author: Marilynn R. Glasser is the president of Parks and Pastimes, a recreation, parks and leisure services consulting firm specializing in dog parks, playground safety and education/training. She is an adjunct assistant professor at Herbert H. Lehman College in the Bronx, New York, and has more than 30 years of experience teaching recreation, parks, and leisure services courses.
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