DESIGNING A DOG PARK
For most people, pet dogs become a part of their family. Dog owners greatly appreciate the leash-free areas where their loved pets can spend some time in natural surroundings. The philanthropic movements of animal lovers have significantly contributed to the growing demand of dog parks as a popular destination of social gathering and community participation. The dog parks have never been so popular and more and more people are putting pressure on the apartment builders, pet care / boarding facilitators and municipal bodies to develop dog parks as part of their neighborhood amenities. Unfortunately, these facilitators are burdened with the responsibility of creating a dog park without understanding the basic facets of designing the dog parks.
WHY YOU SHOULD DESIGN A DOG PARK WHEN THE PUBLIC PARKS ARE AVAILABLE?
The public parks have been designed to serve as the playground for small children and provide the opportunity to spend some time in the natural surroundings. Some of these parks support special sporting activities like ball fields, tennis courts and exercise equipment to cater the needs of the young generation in the specific age groups. The public parks are not designed to handle the dogs and issues that might arise when aggressive dogs are allowed a leash-free space in the park. On the other hand, the dog parks are specifically designed to provide a confined leash–free environment for the dogs with separate sections for different types of dogs. These dog parks serve as a gathering point for dog lovers in the community and provide the most enjoyable experience to people across the age-groups. In comparison to the public parks, it is more economical and rewarding to create and maintain the dog parks as they require low project cost and minimal maintenance. People from a wider span of voters visit these dog parks, and so their interest articulation has created pressure for the creation and maintenance of the dog parks.
KNOW THE USERS:
The real challenges of marketing a concept arise when you try to target people from reluctant and unresponsive communities. Fortunately, this is not the case with the concept of designing a dog park. In the United States, almost 59 percent families own at least one dog. The popularity of pet dogs in the US has significantly extended the potential market of this business concept. Against the massive population of approximately 73 million dogs in the United States, leash-free areas for the loved pets are quite limited. Most of the parks have been designed to serve as an entertaining playground for the children in the age group of 2 to 12 years. The supported activities like ball fields and other sporting events in some parks cater people in the 2-35 year age groups, hardly any park has been designed to facilitate people who wish to spend time with their pet dog. Dog parks hold the potential of catering multi-generational park activities, providing recreational avenues for people in any age groups and ability levels. In terms of construction and maintenance cost, designing a dog park is one of the most viable concepts that can deliver more recreation opportunities and user satisfaction than any other activity in the parks.
CHOOSING A LOCATION FOR YOUR DOG PARK:
Just like any other investment in real estate, the right location of a dog park is the most important factor for its success. The neighbors might raise issues regarding loose dogs, disturbance from barking, foul smells and inadequate parking space. You cannot ignore these concerns regardless of their unrealistic or exaggerated complaints. All the issues that might really affect the neighbors should be resolved. As a precaution, the dog parks should not be located near schools or playgrounds because it can raise safety issues by creating conflicts with children. Once you find the right location and resolve these issues, the community will quickly assimilate a dog park as it provides unprecedented recreational opportunities, particularly to the families who own dogs.
ALLOW ADEQUATE SPACE:
The dog parks should ideally serve as the leash-free playground for the dogs. So, a dog park should have at least ½ acre of available space to become popular among the dog owners. Although, smaller dog parks in urban areas can be considered, larger areas should be allocated when possible. The existing areas for ball fields, hockey rinks, tennis courts, lawn bowling, and equestrian arenas can be repurposed to temporarily (seasonally) or permanently increase the available space of dog parks. In fact, many successful dog parks use this strategy to provide sufficient space for leash-free activity. However, neglected, overgrown and unmanaged areas are great for dog parks. Insufficient space is the most common problem that should be avoided while designing a dog park. Inadequate parking space is another major problem, particularly on weekends when lots of families visit the dog parks. Including unpaved overflow parking space in your design can solve this problem.
ESSENTIAL COMPONENTS OF YOUR DOG PARK
Some people are born with creativity and landscape designing talent, but it will be better to discuss your plans with a Landscape Architect firm or take the services of an experience Dog Park Consultant. They hold requisite experience for incorporating hassle-free access, visibility, vegetation, weather, drainage, parking, and other utilities that might influence the popularity of your dog park. The Dog Park Consultants and Landscape Architect firms specialize in presenting the development plans to the public officials and the community and can be very instrumental in obtaining legal permission. You will definitely need third party experts to resolve the concerns of neighbors and the objections of the public officials.
The dogs inherit the hereditary behavior of wolf packs; and therefore, installing adequate fences is very important for adequately addressing the security concerns of the neighbors. Nobody can imagine a dog park without good fences.
Your dog park should provide absolutely secured confinement by installing at least five feet or higher fences.
Make sure to bury several inches of the fences into the ground because the dogs can dig or find weak spots to escape from their confinement.
You should also install self-closing double gates, allowing a transition space of 10′ between the gates. The double gates will prevent any possible escape of leash-free dogs while people enter the park.
Consider more than one entry into your dog park as it will prevent excessive worn out of the main entry point. The dogs are known for fence fighting. So, reduce the visibility between different sections of your dog park by installing closely spaced wood slants between them. Your fences should not create 90 degree corners because the aggressive dogs can use these tight corners to trap the unwilling or weaker dogs.
Make sure that your entry gates are wide enough to support comfortable entry of people on wheelchairs or strollers.
Install at least one large gate to facilitate the entry of maintenance equipment like lawn mowers, etc.
You should create smaller sections for shy dogs, but develop the main area as a longer / linear park for facilitating activities like fetch balls or sticks.
Normally, you will have to bear the expenses of $25 – $30 per linear foot for installing 6 feet high chain linked heavy duty fences with gates and other required accessories.
The provision of safe drinking water for people and their pet dog is very important for sustaining the popularity of your dog park. People can easily carry water bottles, but it will be very inconvenient for them to bring buckets of drinking water for their pet dogs. In case people bring water, it will be very difficult to control mosquito breeding, sanitary conditions and possibly spread disease to other dogs. Therefore, installing water drinking fountains is essential for maintaining sanitary conditions of your dog park and providing an enjoyable experience to the visitors. If you can maintain proper drainage, additional facilities like water sprays or dog wash stations can really boost the popularity of your dog park.
However, make sure to incorporate two adjacent drain points because dog hairs can clog the drain, causing flooding. If water accumulates in your park, the resulting mud may create lots of problems in your dog park. Make sure to maintain a good irrigation system in your dog park as it will be very useful in maintaining turf grass and preventing the odors from stinking urine, particularly during the summer seasons.
DOG PARK AGILITY EQUIPMENT
Can you imagine a park for kids without the playground? You cannot provide an enjoyable experience for the dog and their owners without installing exercising equipment in your dog park. You are supposed to create a non-competitive environment where people can exercise and train their dogs.
So, try to incorporate several activities like jumps, ramps, tunnels and weave poles, ensuring that these activities support different skill levels. Depending on your design, you can include this equipment as an integral part of the main play area or install them in the areas dedicated to these activities.
Make sure to separate the equipment by a distance of 15 -25′ between them and install them in random orders rather than creating a circle of components. Randomly placed equipment will allow the visitors to create variations on their exercise routine and make it more interesting each time they visit your dog park.
The ability to introduce variation in training routines will increase the popularity of your park, transforming it into a perfect destination for dog training.
While selecting the components and exercising equipment, make sure to prefer rust-free materials like plastic, aluminum, galvanized or stainless steel because dog urine is very corrosive. Public parks are prone to damage from careless activities of visitors; and therefore, stainless steel hardware and heavy-duty materials specifically designed for dog parks should be used. The equipment made from brittle PVC material may be quickly damaged, requiring replacement.
Installing quality dog park equipment is necessary for addressing safety issues. Your dog park is supposed to provide an enjoyable experience for the whole family. Unauthorized equipment can cause injury to unsupervised kids who might be playing with the equipment of your dog park. Therefore, you should immediately replace unauthorized equipment because lawsuits arising out of these condoned equipment can swipe your dream of attaining financial freedom.
PARK FURNITURE- SITE AMENITIES
Your dog park is supposed to foster community participation by serving as a meeting place for neighbors, particularly the dog owners.
The placement of furniture in your dog park should be designed to encourage conversation and social ties.
Make sure to arrange the benches in L or U shape. The dogs are known for urinating on the bench posts.
Use benches and tables with center post to minimize corrosion from dog urine.
Avoid placing the benches near entrance areas and distribute them throughout the park to prevent unnecessary congestion near the entrance of your dog park.
Don’t place any bench within 6′ of fences so that the dogs can run along the fence line without facing any hurdles.
You can introduce climbing areas like contours, mounds, and hills in your dog park, but these areas have to be evaluated for resulting erosion problems. However, mountains created by large boulders can provide a very interesting landscape to the dogs for playing King of the Hill.
ACCESSIBILITY FOR ALL
As already mentioned, you should design your dog park to make it accessible for all. Make sure to provide entry into the leash-free area through wide gates so that people on wheelchairs and strollers can easily access the park with their dogs. In combination with paved surfaces, other materials like rubber matting and engineered wood fibers can be used to design a disabled friendly dog park.
Good sanitation practices are critical to promote and sustain the popularity of your dog park.
Make sure to use proper receptacles and pickup stations to maintain a clean facility.
Avoid placing rolled bags, and dispense individual bags attached or packed inside a sachet because the kids can take the costly biodegradable rolled bags and play around the park. Place the receptacles at the right location, preferably outside the fenced areas so that maintenance staff can easily collect the trash.
It would be more convenient to use small receptacles rather than large containers, which are difficult to unload. However, don’t forget to use separate receptacles for trash and dog waste and appropriately mark them with different color coding or signs.
If you can install lighting system in your dog park, it will extend the service hours. However, always use the services of expert technicians to install sports lighting system and avoid lighting spill over into the neighboring areas as it may cause unwanted troubles.
The sanitation and restroom facilities hardly matter for the dogs, but these facilities are very critical for their owners. They won’t mind if you can install a portable toilet, but dog parks without restroom facilities are not going to attract people from distant places. Small neighborhood dog parks can manage without providing restroom facilities for the dog owners, but if you want to establish your dog park as a destination park for the dogs, you have to invest in restroom facilities. In order to protect your investment from park vandalism, install video cameras on buildings, or create fake signs, indicating that the property is being monitored.
Grass provides the most natural outdoor ambience to a park, but the dogs can really wear out and damage it. Therefore, the areas prone to extensive damage should be reinforced with materials like concrete, crushed rock, decomposed granite, asphalt, artificial turf, hog fuel, tanbark, rubberized grid or engineered wood fibers that are used for surfacing the playgrounds for children.
In comparison to ordinary chips:
Engineered Wood Fiber is more durable and known for providing wheelchair accessibility. Engineered Wood Fiber also resolves the mud problems in the park.
Make sure to install the wood mulch at a depth of 3-6 inches, but never use GeoTextile or other landscape fabric because the dogs find it quite adventurous to dig and tear these landscape fabrics and play with them by dragging it throughout the park.
The aggressive dogs become very excited when they attack the fence lines and completely destroy the grass surface near the fences. Therefore, the tracks near the fence lines should be reinforced with gravel or crushed rocks.
The turf grass is only suitable for surfacing the middle areas of the park.
SHADE STRUCTURES | SHADE SAILS
The dogs as well as their owners visiting to your dog park are not supposed to spend the entire period in the open air. Even in the milder weather conditions of northern climates, they need shade shelters or gazebos at the strategic locations of your dog park to protect themselves from the hot sun, UV rays and rain.
Fabric shade structures can be used as a very cost-effective solution to provide shelter at any location of your dog park. You don’t need building permits, in some cases, for installing fabric shade shelters, but in locations where lots of snow fall occurs, these shelters have to be removed during the winter season. So, if you can manage hard-roofed park shelters, they will serve as the hotspots of social activity in your dog park and provide a permanent solution to the shelter problem.
Make use of colorful graphics to portray your signs and messages. Always focus on connecting with the visitors with a positive note rather than depicting the huge list of Don’ts in your dog park. Empirical observations indicate that good signage is instantly taken while bad signage is completely ignored. So, keep things simple by slashing down the rules to the extent possible, and display the staff phone numbers at several locations of the parks so that people can easily contact them when they need maintenance service or face any other problem in the dog park. The flat display boards can become the target of graffiti enthusiasts and so, use fiberglass and lexan, which can be easily cleaned of spray paints or other markers. Prompt cleaning of these display boards will send the message that graffiti is not allowed or tolerated in the dog park. When people see that the park operators care about them, they will cooperate in maintaining the park. These tips will not only materialize your concept into a grand opening, but also ensure the success of your dog park.
Whether it is for a community park or an open field, these exercise ramps, jumps, tunnels and other stations turn them into a haven for dogs.
Free of their leashes, your furry companions can enjoy themselves with other dogs and with their owners as well, while getting the exercise and mind stimulation they need to keep healthy.
Let your pooches have some doggone fun with dog parks from KorKat.