How to build a dog park in your community. It may be easier than you think.
August 6, 2018
If your neighborhood has yet to jump on the trend, consider being a puppy playground pioneer. Read on for a “how to plan” and get the ball rolling!
Let’s dive in.
Find Your People
Remember that the more people on your team, the higher your chances of success. If you can enlist fellow dog-lovers in your fight for off-leash freedom, you’ll have a much easier time of it.
Use social media to gather your crew of like-minded humans. You can start a conversation by sharing this post, tagging your friends, or writing your own plea and posting it on your wall.
It’s a good idea to create a petition since politicians respond to numbers. Have petition gatherers stand outside of the grocery store, pet store, and other high traffic areas in order to get as many people on board as possible. The outpouring of support may surprise you.
Once you garner enough interest, approach some Parks and Recreation board members in private before going public with a request. Be polite and prepared to state your case. With someone on the inside, your dog park is as good as built!
Find Your Space
Once you’ve gathered your crew, you need to iron out the details. Find a nice open space, owned by the town. Dog parks vary in size from just a tiny enclosed city area, to multiple acres of open land.
The location you propose should be far enough away from homes to avoid noise pollution (RUFF!) and property squabbles with the neighbors. If you don’t have a spot in mind, that’s ok. You can ask for suggestions from the town when you first reach out to them.
Hopefully by now you have a board member on your crew to help you navigate the approval process. If not, it’s time to write a letter to your local Parks and Rec department outlining your idea and requesting their approval and help. Be patient, these things can take time and don’t give up!
Draft an exploratory letter to your local parks department. Your end goal should be an in-person meeting with as many dedicated supporters (i.e. petition signers!) as possible. Don’t forget to include your contact info and attach your petition.
Although many cities are willing to finance a dog park, others don’t have the budget and will need donations from supportive citizens. You can cross that bridge when you come to it. The first step is getting an elected official on board and involved.
Up Your Impact
You can add more power to your letter or proposal by gathering as many statistics as possible. For example, you can show that X number residents with dogs do not live near a park, or that X number of problems have occurred at the public park due to off-leash dogs and overcrowding.
Next, notify your local media of your plan and — once you schedule a meeting—invite as many reporters as possible. There’s no better way to make things happen than to get some press coverage.
Make it Amazing
This is the fun part! Add doggy décor to your budget to make your new dog park amazing. It’s a good idea to buy durable, weather-resistant toys, plant some trees, install benches, and maybe even get some doggy hurdles for the would-be circus performers among you.
Set up a fence around the perimeter that is tall enough to keep large dogs from jumping over and strong enough to deter expert chewers and diggers. To avoid dog injuries, it is very important to create a separate fenced-off area for the little guys.
A prominently displayed sign with rules will also help maintain order in the new park. The rules should require constant owner supervision, spayed/neutered, healthy, vaccinated, and friendly animals only, and no puppies younger than four months.
Also be sure to include local vet information in case of an emergency and leave dog bags or pooper-scoopers around so that the park stays fresh and clean. A stinky park is a health concern, not to mention an annoyance to the neighbors.
Spread the Word!
After you take a moment to celebrate your big win, you can start planning a launch party to show off your work. Your media friends might even be interested in a follow-up story (cute dogs = great footage).
Advertise the park’s grand opening with social media posts and flyers at your local pet store, vet, and groomer’s.
With a safe, happy place for your dog to mix and mingle, you might even make some new friends of your own. Remember, the more your dog park is used, the more funding and ongoing support it is likely to receive.