There is no perfect dog park!

In a recent article, Dr Kersti Seksel highlights that:

dog parks can be very challenging environments for dogs. Although it appears to us, as people, that dog parks are great, this is not the case for every dog … Every dog has different play styles, social skills and experiences around other dogs. In addition, many owners do not adequately supervise their dogs or are unable to recognise inappropriate behaviour and intervene adequately“.

There is no perfect dog park. Dog parks come in all different sizes, shapes, safety features and offered activities such as agility areas or sand pits.  Some of the key elements to a successful dog park design include:

  • Size: the larger the park the less likelihood of dog fights and wear and tear on the ground surfaces.
  • Secure Fencing: secure fencing on all sides so dogs can’t jump over or crawl/dig under the perimeter fence.
  • Two or three entrances and safety gates: two or three entrances with double (self-locking) safety gates.
  • No bottlenecks: The entrances should be kept clear from features such as water fountains and benches to discourage people and dogs from congregating near the entrance. Otherwise, it makes it difficult for people and dogs to enter safely.
  • Meandering paths that encourage walking through the space: meandering paths that encourage people to keep walking rather then standing still in one spot.
  • Dog Friendly Surfaces: surfaces that tolerate high activity like hard running, surfaces that can tolerate excessive urine, and surfaces that are compatible for are dogs.
  • Non-toxic Vegetation: There are many plants that are irritating and/or toxic to dogs, and these plants must not be used inside or on the access routes to the park.
  • Blockages or topographic features: (e.g. mounds, vegetation) to slow down running dogs.
  • Water and Shelter: adequate size water bowl to accommodate all dog types. It’s preferable the water bowl can be emptied and refilled easily. Also need to provide shade areas for dogs.

Safety Tip – Look before you go

  • It’s a good idea to visit the park without your dog. You need to check out the park’s features, users, peak times and assess whether your dog would cope in this type of environment. Dog parks aren’t suitable for all dogs.

If you would like further information or help with planning, design and management of Dog Parks please contact us.

References and Links

Dr Kersti Seksel, Dogs Life –

Wynns, K. Video: “A Beautiful Day at the Dog Park.” youtube

Dog Parks, Adelaide

Good example of dog water bowl and drainage. However,the push button is hard to activate and I’ve heard of people jamming bark chips in the back to keep the tap on on.

Dog Park features

Dog water bowl too small. This model is prone to slime build up, and people end up bringing their own bowls/buckets.