What is a dog park?
What are their benefits and limitations?
Do we need them? Do they work? Who uses them?
There are so many questions and so little information to guide the planning, design and management of these parks.
Dog parks are not new. They have been around in the United States for over thirty years. In South Australia, they emerged some 15 years ago as a means of introducing space where dogs and their guardians could exercise and socialise in the “safety” of an enclosed space.
In South Australia there are some 23 enclosed dog parks including 2 rural parks – catering for the traveling community.
Dog parks are different – they are adding an animal into the mix. They should not be designed based on human needs alone.
We need to approach dog parks in a different way. Both dog and human needs need to be integrated into the design.
Another issue that is overlooked is dog behaviour in the park i.e. how dogs interact with each other and with people in an enclosed space? This is an important element that needs better consideration in the design process. A bad design can in fact exacerbate conflict in the park, and create maintenance problems (e.g. ground surfaces).
If we continue developing new dog parks or upgrading existing ones then we need to take stock and evaluate what is working and what is not working if we are to create successful dog parks.
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