Fenced off-leash areas should be considered as part of an overall Dogs in Public Places strategy that considers:
- Unfenced off-leash areas, which should be the majority of sites
- Partially fenced off-leash areas
- Fully fenced off-leash areas, which should be in the minority, and
- Areas where dogs are not allowed either on or off-leash.
Generally fenced or partially fenced off-leash areas will be in urban parks where fencing is provided to manage the interface between on and off-leash areas, and where there may be a risk manage issue such as associated with nearby roads.
There is generally no need to provide fenced off-leash areas (dog parks) in semi-rural/rural or large parkland environments because of the large area available, and less likelihood of clashes with other activities. Fencing should definitely not be provided because dog owners complain that they cannot control their dogs. These dogs should not be off the leash in public places.
Once a number of sites have been identified as having potential for accommodating a fenced off-leash area (Dog Park), then a detailed evaluation of the sites is undertaken in relation to:
- the suitability of the size and shape of the site so that it can accommodate the likely level of use, generally would be an area of no less than 3,000 sq metres
- the adequacy of the profile/visibility of the site
- ease of compliance monitoring
- environmental issues that may impact use (e.g. contamination) functionality or design (e.g. topography, drainage, or need for fill)
- site ownership (e.g. crown land) and whether this will delay or prevent use as a fenced area
- appeal of the site and population
- access to existing infrastructure such as car parking, toilets, and water
Proximity to residential properties should not be a deterrent. Complaints about a proposed fenced off-leash area generally relate to assumed noise, and possible overlooking of a neighbouring properties. The latter can be addressed with appropriate screen plantings, and the most noise is likely to come from dogs in adjoining properties who are stimulated by the presence of dogs in the fenced area (dog park).