Every dog has its day. And with more owners taking their beloved canine companion to their local dog park, that day can be once a week or more! Dog Park has been growing in popularity since 2011 with over a 30% increase within the US. This rise has intrigued many communities in possibly starting up one of these pet-friendly amenities for their residential pet parents to enjoy. Questions often arise whenever Dog Parks are discussed. Here are 5 frequently asked questions regarding dog parks:
1. Are dog parks good?
Dog parks are a great way to improve pet health and temperament by letting them run freely, play with other dogs, and just have the opportunity to be themselves. Dogs are highly social and active animals. Negative behaviors can develop within a pooch whether it be stress from loneliness, depression, or boredom when they are confined. Behaviors can include excessive barking, biting, scratching, accidents, or chewing up pretty much anything. For this reason, dogs require routine exercise and opportunities to play. Many dogs need more room to run than what their homes have to offer and would benefit greatly from a visit to the local dog park.
Dog Park can also benefit inner-species bonding. It’s a great place for animals and animal lovers to interact within their own social groups. As dogs play a game of chase within their off-leash pack, their humans can break the ice by starting conversations with their common canine interests and develop friendships of their very own.
2. Are dog parks bad?
There is nothing bad about a dog park itself, but they do receive a bad reputation about happenings within them. There are many articles and reports of incidents that occur which rightfully cause concern. Dogs at times can be unpredictable, especially when exposed to new things and environments. Often first-time owners unknowingly approach a dog park too quickly and incorrectly which can cause their dogs to be placed in an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situation. Even though we know the functions of a dog park, the dog may not so it's important to take it slow and allow time to adapt. Things to keep in mind whenever dog owner’s are new to a dog park:
For the first few visits, keep your dog on a leash and engage in his or her reactions.
Allow your dog to interact with other dogs, but intervene or remove them if any sign of anxiety or aggression occurs. It's better to try fresh again another day than to keep your pet in an uncomfortable situation.
When your dog is comfortable being off-leash, stay close and alert. Even the friendliest dogs can find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong canine.
Follow the rules of the Dog Park. The rules are put in place to protect its occupants.
Have all vaccine shots and pest prevention up to date.
Do not bring a dog who is in heat. Some dog parks have a spay and neuter policy to reduce aggressive behavior.
Be careful when bringing toys, treats, or food as this could cause competition.
Be cautious when bringing under-aged children into the dog park.
Have an emergency plan. Things can go south quickly and it is important to have a number of an emergency vet or doctor available in case of injuries.
3. How do dog parks help the community?
Communities directly benefit from dog parks by giving their residents what they need, an area to spend time with their beloved companions. Money for a community is generated from rent, tax, and local revenues supplied by their occupancies. When tenants are happy, they are more likely to stay for longer terms which cycle income back into the local economy. Apartments for one have become a more popular living arrangement in modern-day society. Whether it be to save money for housing, less maintenance, or shorter commutes to work, shops, etc., nearly 17% of Americans call an apartment their home. According to the AAOA, out of the 1,000 residents interviewed, 90% admitted to owning a pet or plans on getting one in the near future. These numbers don’t just include dogs, however, it's easy to see the need for local pet-friendly amenities. A nearby dog park for these yard-less dwellings will allow a convenient space to frequent for their dog’s basic needs, which will lead to happier tenants.
Dog parks don’t only appeal to apartment buildings, but any residential community with a close-knit neighborhood to benefit from exercise and social interaction. This includes retirement communities, gated communities, and HOAs.
4. Why are dog parks important?
Dog parks are not only a place for dogs to bond with other dogs but a place they can bond with their owners. A dog’s owner is the most important companion in a dog’s life. And when they receive positive one-on-one attention with their human; stress, aggressions, and bad habits are greatly reduced, if not eliminated. A simple act of long routine walks is a valuable, easy way to spend time. However, people can get additional benefits when their dog is off-leashed and even more so by training their pets. This is why dog parks equipped with training amenities geared towards agility, balance, and conditioning are so sought after. It's an opportunity for dogs and owners to learn different skills and disciplines that are both fun and rewarding for all parties. Any accomplishments achieved, big or small, will develop stronger connections and understanding within their relationship.
5. What do you put in a dog park?
When establishing a dog park, it’s important to make sure that the dogs and owners needs are met. All the necessities should be available and accessible on the property for a safe, enjoyable experience. Such items include shade, benches, doggie waste stations, water fountains, and maybe agility equipment and showers.
- Shade - Trees can be a valuable means of shade to provide cover from the unforgiving sun. However, when there are no trees available on the property or will take too long to grow to supply adequate shade, artificial permeant shade like shade structures, metal shelters, and pavilions can be instant for fast relief.
- Benches – Seating should be located throughout the perimeter of the dog park so owners can have a spot to rest while being within close proximity to their dog to supervise.
- Doggie Waste Stations – Receptacles designated for the collection of canine waste are essential for the health of visitors as well as the cleanliness of the park. Left behind fecal matter can promote the spread of bacteria and parasites among the animals, including worms, Campylobacteriosis, and even the fatal puppy Parvovirus to name a few. There need to be enough doggie waste stations throughout the park to incentivize poop pick-up. It is also important for maintenance staff to routinely fill doggie pick-up bags and empty the trash can, so owners can uphold their duty by picking up their dog’s doody.
- Water Fountain – Dogs need to stay hydrated as they run and play. Longer, more comfortable stays at the dog park can be had when clean drinking water is accessible. Double functioning water fountains are ideal to supply water for both dogs and humans alike.
Agility Equipment – An interesting way to boost a dog’s fitness and intelligence is by training them to perform tasks using agility equipment. Obstacles like hoops, hurtles, tunnels, weave poles, stepping platforms, performing platforms, seesaws, and plank climbers can be used to teach the dog new skills and disciplines in a fun way. Agility equipment is considered an extra instead of a necessity for Dog Parks, but when included they do allow for dog and owner to bond in a rewarding way.
- Showers – Dogs at dog parks can get filthy and sometimes they are brought to the park by car. It is helpful if the dog park is equipped with a dedicated concrete gated area with access to a hose or shower to rinse away dirt, mud, swimming water, or any other unwanted debris from the animal’s coat. This gives the owner the opportunity to clean and dry their pooch before heading back home.
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