Start a Dog Park

There are hundreds of city, county, or municipality endorsed off-leash public dog parks and dog runs in the United States, and countless others that are privately funded and operated. These are safe places for dogs to exercise and play. If you are interested in starting a dog park in your city, these guidelines will assist you through this process.

First, dog owners unite; a united effort will help insure the success of your project. Together you can educate the misinformed and overcome the strongest opposition. As a group you can support your common goals and effectively handle the work associated with establishing a dog park.

Many groups decide to incorporate as non-profit businesses; this procedure includes a formal mission statement, which provides a written guarantee of the expected standards of behavior and values that will be enforced.

Second, before you begin to lobby in behalf of your dog park, find at least one or more government officials; they will be your advocates and help smooth the way for you through this bureaucratic maze. They can support your proposed dog park through the approval process.

Third, devise a funding plan that is acceptable to your group. This will form an accurate and detailed financial projection for the dog park. Most local governments are only able to offer limited funding help; the balance of your costs will need to come from other sources. So be prepared to contact all dog-related businesses in your community.

Fourth, your next priority and perhaps your biggest hurdle will be finding a suitable location. The land must be large enough to accommodate all the dogs and their owners. It should be at least one acre or more, which should be surrounded by a 4’-6’ fence. The property should also include shaded areas, with a suitable water source. Dog parks need adequate drainage to preserve soil quality, which will preserve cleanliness.

Keep in mind; you will need sufficient parking space available near the dog park. In order to ensure the safety of everyone, it is recommended that a double-gated entry be installed. For the enjoyment and comfort of all the park’s guests; benches and waste receptacles, along with plastic pick-up bags must be available.

Fifth, signs which clearly display the rules and requirements for using the dog park should be placed prominently throughout the park. In addition, the concern over legal liability can best be handled by requiring dog owners to “indemnify and hold harmless the sponsoring agency.

Sixth, advertise and promote this new dog park’s many benefits:

  • Dog parks encourage responsible pet ownership along with the enforcement of dog-control laws
  • Dog parks give dogs a safe place to exercise and play
  • It customarily reduces barking and other problem behaviors
  • Dog parks provide senior and the disabled community members with an accessible place to exercise their pets
  • Dog parks foster community up building through socializing

Seventh, never forget that dog parks require an on-going commitment from everyone. There will be routine clean-up and maintenance, along with making sure everyone follows the rules. These obligations can be attended to through regular “work parties.”

Starting a dog park is a huge undertaking; it can take 2-3 years of planning and a tremendous amount of group effort before a dog park finally opens. Patience and perseverance will result in the successful starting of your dog park.