Dog Parks in Australia
Australia has one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world with 36% of households owning a dog (Australian Companion Animal Council, 2010).
Pets play important roles in our lives. Research shows they can help improve a person’s mental and physical health, reduce the effects of stress, facilitate social interaction and can help build a sense of community. With backyards becoming smaller and a shift to more compact living (i.e. apartment living) there is a need to better plan for our pets (particularly dogs) within cities including: pet friendly local streets, public parks and urban precincts.
Dog Parks and Local Councils
One way that local councils are responding to this need is by developing off-leash dog parks. This type of park is a relatively new concept in Australia, although they have been operating for over 35 years in the United States.
Last year, I visited the United States (Dallas, San Antonio & San Francisco) to see first hand their dog parks. This included a visit to the first recognised dog park in the US – Ohlone or Martha Scott Benedict Dog Park, Berkeley, established 1979.
While dog parks are commonly developed by local councils in Australia we are starting to see land developers, private companies establishing public dog parks.
Collaborative Design Work
Last year, we (Balancing Act Adelaide) worked in collaboration with Aspect Studio’s Adelaide (Landscape Architects) to design a dog park for a private company in South Australia. Part of the project was to produce a dog park fly-in so the community could better understand the design concept. Some of design elements included:
- breaking up the space into different activity areas (i.e. passive and active areas) rather than having one flat open area
- providing an internal circulation path to encourage people and their dogs to keep moving through the space rather than standing in one spot
- using a combination of different ground surfaces including all weather surfaces for high traffic areas as well as softer surfaces.
You may also like to read the following Blogs on Dog Parks:
Dog Park Guidelines
Download a FREE copy of the Dog and Cat Management Board of SA Dog Park Guidelines – ‘Unleashed, a Guide to Successful Dog Parks’ prepared by Balancing Act Adelaide.