Allen, Laurel

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  • Publication
    Dog Parks: Benefits and Liabilities
    (2007-05-29) Allen, Laurel
    Dog parks have emerged in the last decade or so as places for pet owners living in suburban and urban areas to exercise their dogs. Providing a safe environment for both dog and human is a tremendous challenge. If done correctly a dog park can be that place. In the 1950s and 1960s, some state and regional parks had liberal policies and permitted dogs to run free or off-leash on certain trails, but in most cities and other urban areas, dog owners were required to keep their dog on-leash when the animals left their own premises. The concept of a dog park, an enclosed area devoted exclusively to canine activity, evolved in California in 1979. Dog parks are now found in every state, but Alaska, and in at least six Canadian provinces. These parks generally consist of one or more acres of open grassland surrounded by a chain-link fence. Unfortunately, legal ramifications, design considerations, social and behavioral patterns of dogs, and environmental and health issues relating to dogs and humans have not been adequately addressed in the design of many of these dog parks. The goal of this paper is to provide guidance for those who may want a dog park developed in their town. I have gathered and synthesized information from designers, veterinarians, environmentalists, dog trainers, and a dog behaviorist to develop an approach and tools that the novice dog park implementer will need to execute a project. Six dog parks have been used as case studies to demonstrate what problems may exist and what forethought should go into the design of an optimal dog park. A photographic study has been taken to help demonstrate some of the problems and solutions. Questions given to dog park patrons to help demonstrate the reasons why people take their dog to a 5 dog park and what things can be done to improve the experience. Burlington City, New Jersey was used as a sample urban area that might be in need of a future dog park. Questions were given to a random sampling of Burlington City residents to help determine if a dog park might be needed in the town and what the residents’ opinions were about the concept.