Outfit Your Dog Park
With nearly 78 million dogs in the United States, communities are finding that designated dog parks are a great way to provide family recreation for a relatively small investment. Dog parks are a simple, affordable way to bring recreation to your community, and when you provide amenities, such as play components, site furnishings and more, you'll boost interest and revitalize your parks.
Q: We'd like to revitalize one of your parks by adding dog park equipment. What should we look for?
A: Dog parks provide a great recreation option for a relatively low initial investment. You should be sure you're getting the most out of your equipment by basing your selection on durability, safety and ease of maintenance.
Dog parks can be highly corrosive environments, so be careful when selecting materials. Steel can rust and is not as well suited to outdoor use as aluminum. You also should avoid wood, which can rot or absorb smells, and PVC piping, which is brittle and easily broken. Look for products made from heavy-gauge reinforced aluminum to resist corrosion and ensure your park will last for the long term.
Safety should be a top priority. Look for products designed specifically for dogs—not just park or playground elements that have been repurposed for canines. Avoid equipment over 3 feet that could injure an inexperienced dog (or child) if they fell. Look for slip-resistant surfaces. Textured coatings on ramp surfaces and slip-resistant materials are important. Avoid smooth plastic or plywood surfaces, which do not provide adequate traction.
Q: What kinds of amenities should we look for?
A: Most dog parks begin with simple fencing and surfacing, but you can make yours stand out by offering something more. Comfortable, shaded seating should be arranged to encourage interaction. You can also add accessories like bulletin boards, fire hydrants and pick-up bag dispensers to help keep the park clean as well.
Dogs and their owners will need to quench their thirst. You should provide a place for both to get a drink. Dog watering stations should be made from stainless steel to prevent rust and corrosion. And when considering options for people, don't forget the importance of accessibility.
If you want to provide a dog park that really stands out, offer additional equipment, such as spray features and agility equipment. Spray features should include a timed, low-flow valve in order to discourage waste.
When looking at agility equipment, remember that dogs can be found in a wide range of sizes and abilities. Look for components that can be adjusted to meet the needs of different sizes and skill levels. You might consider offering separate areas for small dogs and big dogs, and you'll be able to select agility equipment appropriate to each.
Q: How can we be sure our dog park is as accessible as possible?
A: Accessible routes up to the park and accessible surfacing within the park itself are the two most crucial elements of ADA accessibility. You can find multiple surfacing options that will meet accessibility requirements. In addition, you should be sure to look for agility equipment and site furnishings that can be used by people—and dogs—with a wide range of abilities.
Q: What else should we know?
A: Look for a partner who not only designs and manufactures dog park equipment, but is also an expert and can help you answer questions about design and various solutions to meet your specific needs.
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