Feature Article - March 2019
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Basic Dog Park Elements & Beyond

By Deborah L. Vence

Other tips from VandenBerghe's company on agility equipment include choosing "components that offer a variety of activities like ramps, tunnels, jumps and weave poles to accommodate different skill levels of both dogs and their owners."

And, "Equipment can be in its own section, or integrated into the main play area. In a larger park, you can arrange components 10 feet to 15 feet apart, and 6 feet to 10 feet in smaller parks. If you don't have a recommended layout, just make sure everything is evenly spaced in a random fashion to allow users to create a different course each time they visit. These activities make your dog park more of an exciting and fun destination, and will increase the time users stay at the park along with how often they visit."

Dog parks often become social gathering spaces, so amenities for the two-legged park users are always a nice touch.

In addition, dog parks should have separate small and large dog areas.

"The play styles between different breeds and sizes can be vastly different, and allowing the smaller dogs to play safely without getting underfoot of the larger pups that might accidentally injure them helps to both keep the peace and ensure everyone enjoys their time at the park," VandenBerghe said, adding that waste pickup stations and trash receptacles are a necessity, too.

"Dog parks often become social gathering spaces, so amenities for the two-legged park users are always a nice touch. Seating, shade (whether natural shade through landscaping or installing shelters), restrooms, hand sanitizers, etc., are nice to have on site," she said.

Some current trends at dog parks include water features, including spray fire hydrants, pet/paw wash stations and unique agility components, such as a line of products by VandenBerghe's company that offers play activities that complement the natural surroundings.

"Every dog park should include a drinking water feature as well as a shade feature. It is important to provide these cooling amenities for the dogs," Sarver said. "A well-rounded park would also include play features for all sizes of dogs as well as some seating for people visiting the park. Providing lighting can also be a really nice extra for the park."

Steines added that "dog park patrons are looking for amenities.

"Drinking fountains for patrons and pets, a pet wash station, agility equipment, waste bags and depositories, ample lighting and long park hours are among the top sought-out amenities," she said.

In deciding on features for a dog park, Marler noted, "This is a question that primarily revolves around the community's budget and equally important the size of the space.

"Dog parks can range from just a small fenced-in area with a waste station to an all-out doggie theme park complete with splash pad, and extensive agility course," she said. "When you are planning your dog park, it is important to understand your budget, and then create a check-list of needs and wants for your community."