Feature Article - March 2018
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Dog Day Afternoons

Building Your Dog Park, From Start to Finish

By Rick Dandes

Celebrate Your Success: Special Days

Most pet parents will jump at the chance to attend dog-centric events, Greer said. It's a great chance to socialize and meet other dogs and owners within the community, as well as give your pup a day out.

End-of-summer dog days at local pools are always a huge hit, she said. "Most dogs love water, and what better way to let them cool off? Charity walks are another way to get the community involved. If there is an American Cancer Society chapter nearby, their annual Bark for Life events are fun for everyone. You can also host a Mutt Strutt or Dog Days in the Park event.

"Recreation centers are a great place to hold dog classes, or even events like Paint Your Pup Night, if there is a local paint party company. Pet CPR and First Aid classes are also a good idea," Greer said. "Of course, social contests and involvement are important. Ask followers to post photos of their pets enjoying the dog park, hiking local trails and attending park events and use a common hashtag. Dog parents are always excited to share photos of their furkids."

At Bear Creek Park, Melvin said there are a number of special events: "We try to have fun events in the park. We do a costume thing around Halloween, where people dress up their dogs and we have a costume contest. We have a fashion show for dogs, where dogs are walked on a runway."

During the holiday season, Bear Creek offers taking pictures with Santa Claus. "We host several annual events to clean up the park: April Stools Day, where volunteers pick up excess dog waste; we also pick up the trash, clean out the pools. We have another event called Stools and Ghouls, we do that around Halloween and several other cleanup events during the year."

In the future, Melvin said, "… we are going to do an event called Woofstock, a community event with family-friendly concerts and things you can do with your dog."

McCabe suggests having a dog adoption day if you are working with an ASPCA or a public shelter. "They are always going to have dogs available, and having days where they can showcase the dogs, like a meet and greet. Dog agility days is a popular program. You can find trainers that do demonstrations. It is usually only a few hundred dollars for someone to come in and do a demonstration and then give a short class." You can also have dog obedience training days in the off-leash area.

"I like the idea of the doggy dips," McCabe said. "More and more areas have water as a feature, especially in the southern United States. One of the first ones was in Billy Bush Park in Houston, where they have two pools and a big open area. It is in western Houston so it has a lot of space to run. It attracts all kinds of dogs, large and small."