If you own a dog, you know how wonderful it can be to have a place for them to play off leash. If you don't have an off-leash play area in your local park, consider asking your municipal government if you can use an area of the park exclusively for dogs. Here are some basic questions answered, so you can approach your civic leaders armed with information for approval and budgeting.
Why is an off-leash dog park a benefit?
Pet owners know that most dogs need to burn off steam by running off the lead and playing with their own kind. However, there are benefits to the community as a whole to having an off-leash dog play area in a local park.
Having a designated area can reduce the illegal use of public places for dog play. While tickets for these infractions may be a source of income for the municipality, a better source of revenue would be annual dues to use a dog park.
A local dog park is also good for neighborhood building and developing a sense of local community. People who wouldn't know each other otherwise can find support for things like cutting down on regional crime or making roads safer for pedestrians.
What is the biggest element that needs to be furnished?
Perhaps the most important element of the off-leash play area is fencing to keep running dogs contained. Rather than investing in permanent fencing, your community may want to try renting construction fencing first. This gives them flexibility if other park users aren't happy with the borders, and they need to be adjusted. Construction fencing is also relatively low-budget and easy to erect.
Your town may like using construction fencing so much that you continue to use it indefinitely. Not only can you move it around, but you can remove it entirely if the whole park is needed for a large event like a fun run or concert.
Try to find fencing that is as low to the ground as possible and narrowly spaced to avoid little dogs squeezing through or bigger dogs getting stuck in it. Sturdy metal fencing should be used instead of plastic as "snow fencing" won't adequately contain larger animals.
If visual distractions, like baseball diamonds or nearby roadways, are an issue, use chain link fencing with screening material woven through it. This can also serve as a very effective wind screen. Contact a local outlet, such as Statewide Rent-A-Fence, for further assistance.
What else needs to be considered?
Your off-leash dog area will also need signage, both to identify it from the outside and to post information about rules and hours. Doggy clean-up bags should be supplied, and there should be a receptacle for waste that is emptied regularly by either the city or a privately contracted waste removal company.
A water source is a nice extra but not a necessity. Some funds need to be appropriated for publicity, which can be done on paper with local vets, shopping malls, and pet supply stores. Online publicity can be created using social media and community virtual bulletin boards.
Having an off-leash dog park is a wonderful addition to many communities. If you take the time to do your research before approaching your municipal government about creating such an area, your chances of success are much greater. Work with a core team of fellow dog lovers, and you may wind up with a great space for your four-legged friends!