What is Pet Friendly?

“Pet Friendly” is a term that is slowly creeping into our everyday language. This term refers to our companion animals, in particular our dogs and how they integrate into community. The term is used in a range of settings such as:

  • identifying if companion animals are allowed in places such as: apartments, rental properties, aged care facilities, outdoor eating areas and cafes, and open space (housing and open space)
  • describing the type of support infrastructure for pet guardians e.g. provision of water bowls, doggy bags and bins in parks and along main shopping strips (main streets)
  • describing a certain lifestyle with your pet such as: traveling with your pet and pet friendly holidays (tourism).
Dog parks for tourists

The Lab on a Pet Friendly Holiday in a 1967 VW Kombi van. Photo from Inhabitat.
















Why the growing interest in pet friendly?

There are several factors to explain the growing interest of “pet friendly”.  These include such things as the:

  • Pet ownership rates –  Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world with almost 36% of households owning a dog (Australian Companion Animal Council, 2010).
  • Pets bring benefits to people and community – There is a growing body of research to indicate that pets are good for our health and in increasing the social capital of a community.
  • Changing Lifestyles – With increased higher density living and trends towards smaller backyards it’s becoming harder to exercise and socialise dogs.

How does “pet friendly” translate to practice?

This is a whole new ball game for planners and allied professionals including landscape architects and open space planners. Traditionally we have planned for humans and their needs. Now we must consider the dog’s needs and work out a different approach that integrates both the animal and human needs. In developing a new approach, there are various questions that need to be considered:

  • How do we assess dog’s needs?
  • What are the social and behavior patterns of dogs in an enclosed space? How does this inform the design of pet friendly places like a dog park?
  • How do dogs interact with each other and with people?
  • What are the potential risks of pet friendly spaces and places? How can this be minimized through design?

It’s not a simple process to integrate dogs into our community. It’s more than building a fence around a park and calling it a “pet friendly dog park”!!

If you need help integrating pets into the urban environment (i.e. dog parks, pet friendly infrastructure along main streets, in aged care facilities) please contact us for an initial meeting.

You make also like to read the full story of the traveling dog in the photo.