What makes a successful dog park?

Dog parks

Different dog park types are emerging e.g. all dog park, puppy park, separation of small and large dogs and other variations. They all have their advantages and disadvantages.

Identifying the physical elements of a dog park e.g. fencing, entry/exit gates, water bowls, doggie dispensers, benches etc – That’s the easy stuff.

The missing element is understanding the relationships between the physical park elements and the social and behavioral patterns of dogs. This is an essential component for a successful dog park, and this is an area of our expertise.

Download a free Dog_Park_Fact_Sheet_2012

An understanding of the social and behavioural patterns of dogs provides a better insight into:

  • how the space is likely to be used
  • the type of park interactions including: dogs to dogs; dog to humans
  • the potential risks for animals and people.

The social and behavioural patterns of dogs must be a major factor in the design process.

The other component that needs to be considered is the ongoing maintenance of a dog park. We are noticing on our site visits that  grass in high activity areas is slowly being turned into dust bowls (even parks in operation of some 4 months are becoming dust bowls). Other factors such as: park size and layout may also contribute to this problem.

Some other issues and questions that need consideration in the early planning stages of a dog park

  • Ground surfaces
    • What ground surfaces are dog friendly?
    • Are the surfaces durable? Can they withstand the hard wear and tear of dogs running? Parks with grassed surfaces in high traffic areas often end up turning to dust bowls. Other grass types and/or surfaces may need to be considered?
    • How will ground surfaces (and vegetation) handle urine and feces in large quantities?
  • Maintenance
    • What is the maintenance budget? What maintenance will be needed for ground surfaces (e.g grass, mulch) and other park elements (e.g. agility equipment).
    • Can parts of the park be closed for maintenance or regeneration? e.g. for grass to recover.  A method similar to crop rotation is used in some USA parks.
  • Vegetation
    • Are plants pet friendly? There are many plants that are poisonous to dogs.

    During the last few weeks we have received quite a few questions about dog parks including:

  • What size should a dog park be?
  • How much do they cost?
  • Can I use old logs in parks?
  • What are good ground surfaces for dogs?
  • Where do I find a list of all dog parks in SA?

We will endevour to provide information on these issues via our blogs. These questions and others are important as they will help inform our training sessions for 2013.

If you would like any research, advice or support in developing a dog park, please contact Balancing Act Adelaide – Pet Friendly Planning.

You may also like:

Dog_Park_Fact_Sheet_2012. This is  a handy template to guide you through the key elements of a dog park.