Feature Article - January 2009
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Going to the Dogs

A Growing Community Trend

By Stacy St. Clair

Doggie Do's

Just because you've given pooches a place to exercise doesn't mean the park should go to the dogs. Strict rules—and patrons' adherence to them—is an absolute must for any canine recreation facility.

"This is not the Magic Kingdom," said John Girolamo, president of The Friends of Cedar Lane Dog Park. "You also need set rules and regulations. We have ours posted so everyone knows what they are."

Here are some suggested regulations for any dog park:

  • Dogs must be kept on a leash until the owners/custodian and dog(s) are in the dog park and the entrance gates are fully closed after entry.
  • Owners/custodians must clean up after their dog(s) to decrease the spread of disease. Many parks provide handy dispensers and waste containers for patrons who forget to bring their own.
  • Dogs must be accompanied by their owners/custodians. Owners/custodians must maintain voice control over their dog(s) and keep them in sight while visiting the dog park.
  • Dog behavior can be unpredictable around other dogs and strangers. For the safety of all dogs, immediately leash your dog if it exhibits aggressive behavior and leave the dog park area.
  • To help keep the dog park clean, do not groom animals at the park.
  • For the safety of dogs and other park visitors, choke, prong (pinch) and spike collars are strictly prohibited. They must be removed before entering the park.
  • Do not bring dog food into the park.
  • Owners must fill any holes their dogs make.
  • Dogs must be older than 4 months and be currently vaccinated. Tags may serve as proof.
  • Remind owners to clean up their own garbage. Trash, cigarette butts and anything else on the ground may end up in a dog's mouth. Before you drop something on the ground, ask yourself, "Would I want my dog to eat this?" We must all work to keep our park clean.
  • If your city or county requires dogs to be licensed, that should also be an entrance requirement.
  • To discourage aggressive behavior, recommend that dog owners only bring animals that have been spayed or neutered. Absolutely no female dogs in heat should be allowed into exercise areas.
  • Some dogs exhibit unpredictable behavior around small children. For the safety of children, patrons under the age of 12 should be prohibited from entering the dog park.
  • Owners/custodians of a dog are responsible for the acts and conduct of their animal at all times when it is in a city park. Park users and dog owners assume all risks related to use of the dog parks.
  • No bare feet allowed.