A dog park can be a great addition to almost any community. It provides dogs with a chance to exercise and socialize with other dogs as well as provide owners a place to do things with their pets that they might otherwise not be able to do, especially if they live in a place with little to no yard. Starting a dog park can, however, require a fair amount of work. You can start by getting the word out to garner support for the project and nominating a site to submit to your community’s recreation department. Once this is approved, you can begin developing a layout of the park.

When undertaking any community project, marketing is truly the key to success. The city you live in will not likely consider one person’s recommendation, but if you have a good chunk of the community behind you, chances are you’ll be able to set up the dog park in no time. Begin by talking to every person you see with a pet, tell them about your plans, ask for their contact information and, if necessary, ask that they sign a petition for the dog park. Getting together this kind of support will not only make the city more likely to agree to the proposal, but it will also provide you with help and support for the planning and implementing of the dog park project.

Once you have a group of supporters, get together and decide on possible sites for the dog park. Once you have a place picked out, submit a proposal to your city’s recreation department, detailing why the dog park is needed and how it will improve the community as a whole. Keep in mind that the city will likely suggest different sites, and once a spot is agreed to, the proposal for a dog park will most likely have to go before city council for approval. The most efficient way to make the approval process go smoothly is to set up a committee of both council members and citizens who support the dog park. This group can work together to make sure the dog park will not only meet the needs of the community but also adhere to local laws.

Following the dog park’s approval, it’s time to begin working on a layout for the park. The exact layout will vary based on the site that has been approved, but at least an acre of maintained grass area should be securely fenced in with a double-gated entry/exit system. This type of system ensures that anyone entering or exiting the park will not inadvertently allow a loose dog outside of the fenced area. It is also important to have fresh water available for the dogs, which can be done by having a water pump installed inside the fenced in area. Adequate shading, seating for owners and poop bag dispensers are also great additions to any dog park.

Once the dog park is set up and running, it’s important for those who use the park to understand basic dog park etiquette. For starters, dog owners should always remain with their pets while at the dog park and clean up after their pet. This will ensure that any behavioral issues are dealt with and the park is kept clean. It is also extremely important that all dogs who use the dog park are up to date on their vaccinations. If possible, it would be a good idea to require that proof of this is displayed before entering the dog park.

While most dogs love to play with others, fights are a risk of using dog parks. Therefore, owners should be vigilant and watch their dog’s behavior. If he or she begins to play a little too roughly or seems to be becoming anxious, it’s best to remove the dog from the situation. Not doing so is disrespectful to the other owners, and a dog who continuously starts fights may be banned from the park.

Bringing a puppy to a dog park can be a great way to socialize them and making sure they grow up to be well-mannered dogs. However, puppies under four months of age are typically not ready to hold their own with larger, more agile dogs and should be kept at home. They also do not have all the proper vaccinations before this time, which means they could easily catch a disease. While most vets recommended family pets be spayed or neutered, many professional breeders love to use dog parks to maintain their animal’s temperament. In this case, it is extremely important to never take a female dog that is in heat to a dog park. Male dogs can attach in a matter of minutes, and once this happens there is no separating the two.

These ideas and etiquette tips are a great way to get a dog park started in your community and to make sure it runs smoothly. The following links provide even more ideas and tips.

  • How to Start a Dog Park This article provides seven tips for starting up a community dog park.
  • Benefits of a Dog Park This article details all of the community benefits of having a dog park, which can be a great resource when submitting a proposal to the recreation department of your city.
  • Tips for Starting a Dog Park Describes several easy tips and tricks to successfully starting a dog park.
  • The Ins and Outs of Starting a Dog Park Provides detailed information on not only the steps to starting a dog park, but also how to pick a site and set one up.
  • 10 Steps to Starting a Dog Park Provides detailed instructions on how to start a dog park and how to deal with any opposition to the project along the way.
  • Standard Dog Park Rules An example of rules that should be implemented at dog parks. Posting the rules in several highly visible areas at the dog park is always a good idea.
  • Dog Park Safety Provides fantastic tips on how to ensure both owners and dogs are kept safe at the dog park.
  • Dos and Don'ts Provides a list of all the dos and don’ts concerning dog park etiquette.
  • Brush up on Dog Park Etiquette An article describing dog park etiquette and why it is important to follow it.
  • Park Etiquette Quiz An online quiz to test your knowledge of dog park etiquette.