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Dog Parks - Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the questions we get asked most frequently. You can download a print friendly version of the responses to these questions.

If you have any other questions please email them to info@paws4play and we will endeavour to answer them.

What is a Dog Park?
A Dog Park is a fully fenced area in which dogs can run leash-free. The feature that distinguishes a Dog Park from an ‘off-leash area’ is the fact that it is fully enclosed. There may be a number of places in your community that allow dogs off-leash but which are not enclosed. These may include trails, parks or sporting grounds.

A Dog Park may vary in size depending on the space available and the activities and equipment to be incorporated.

Larger Dog Parks are more attractive to dog owners because they incorporate a variety of activity opportunities such as dog agility equipment, ball play and free running areas and rummaging areas with created landscapes such as rocky outcrops or dry creek beds. They also allow for more in the way of social amenities such as seating, and trees and other landscaping.

Why have Dog Parks?
Dog Parks should compliment other opportunities for dog owners and their dogs in the community such as trails, off-leash areas and even outdoor cafés. Here are a few of the benefits of Dog Parks:

  • They mean dogs and their owners can be separate from other people who don’t want to interact with dogs
  • They keep dogs out of sensitive environments but still allow them access to parkland
  • They provide a meeting place or activity hub for people and communities
  • They encourage people to exercise more vigorously with their dogs
  • They provide elderly and dog owners with disabilities with an accessible and safe place to exercise their companions
  • They allow apartment dwellers or people living on small allotments to have canine companions   
  • They provide a venue that encourages dog to dog socialisation
  • They can provide an environment where advice is exchanged on dog management and where responsible dog ownership is encouraged
  • They provide a focal point for community education and training programs, and
  • They can help avoid potential conflict between dogs and other activities in parks.

What are the possible downsides to a dog park?
It is important that people using the dog park understand they do not abdicate their responsibilities as a dog owner because they are in a Dog Park. Local laws relating to dogs in public spaces and off-leash areas will still apply. The following highlight some of the issues that can stem from Dog Parks. Many of these can be minimised by appropriate management and through dog owner education and many are rare occurrences. The most common issues are likely to arise from:

  • Dog owners not picking up after their dogs
  • Too many dogs brought in by the one person
  • Inappropriate dogs (e.g. entire dogs, dangerous breeds & dogs that are too young) being brought to the dog park
  • Young children being taken into the dog park and older being children left unattended
  • Possible dog rushes and / or bites to humans
  • Possible dog to dog bites
  • People leaving their dog unattended in the dog park
  • Poor location of dog parks e.g. next to playgrounds, in isolated places
  • Inappropriate use of the dog park by dog trainers.

Why is it important to have an area where dogs can socialise?
Dogs that are well socialised are likely to be more confident and less anxious when out in a community or social setting. These dogs will be less prone to inappropriate behaviours. The dog park provides an ideal setting where dogs can socialise with other dogs and with other dog owners in a closely supervised space.

How big should a Dog Park be?
The size will vary depending on the type of activities that the dog park is to cater for and the area of land available. A Dog Park should not be any smaller than 1 hectare. Ideally they will be larger so that the area does not feel ‘fenced in’, there is opportunity to include different features (e.g. ball-play areas, agility equipment) that attracts repeat visits and importantly room to create an attractive environment with trees and other natural features. A larger area will also spread activities over a larger area and preserve ground covering longer. A larger park also allows for separate large and small dog areas and ‘time out’ areas.

Why plan a dog park & how do you select a good site?
By careful planning you will ensure the Dog Park is a success and importantly supported by the local community. It is important that you understand the issues that your local Council has to deal with when planning any new facility and the process the Council needs to work through.

If you want your Council to consider a new Dog Park it is important that both supporters and those who are not convinced a dog park is a good idea be involved in planning. You should not go about this process alone – get it wrong and you may get people off-side! Get it right and you will have everyone supporting the idea of a new Dog Park.

In terms of a possible site you cannot assume the park down the road will be the most suitable site. There may be a number of reasons why this is the case but you may not be aware of them. You need to understand these.

You may be lucky enough that your Council has already identified a number of different site options for a dog park. Whether you have one site or a number of sites up for consideration a site checklist is very important.

The advantage of a checklist is that it allows you to rate each site against the other and importantly it takes the emotion out of the evaluation process. This is critical especially if you are going to convince the naysayers that a dog park is a good idea in you neighbourhood!

Paws4Play has a checklist of considerations to get you going. Remember this will not be a complete list. You should add to this list as other considerations come to light as you investigate your site opportunities.

Why landscape the Dog Park?
A well-designed Dog Park will address the needs of both dogs and people. A good design will encourage more use and will ensure all the different activity areas within the dog park link well together. Landscape design will consider robust areas for dog free-play and rummaging activities as well as opportunities for dog agility equipment. It will also address amenity considerations such as shade, water and seating and the type of ground cover. Appropriate ground cover is important in high use areas to prevent dust, erosion and mud! Different ground surfaces (textures, hard, soft) can also be an advantage in introducing dogs to the different surfaces they will encounter in public places.

Why have equipment in Dog Parks?
Equipment provides another activity option and it allows dog owners to practice skills being learned at training and obedience classes. However the most important reason for dog agility equipment is that it teaches dogs confidence, and confident dogs are more likely to be relaxed and comfortable in social settings. 

Each piece of Paws4Play dog agility equipment has a different educational focus – e.g. Sit–stay platforms(Paws4Play) – obedience, Jump Hoops(Paws4Play)  and Jump Throughs(Paws4Play) - Agility and the Bridge(Paws4Play) - Confidence development. 
As with different ground surfaces, equipment can introduce dogs to different situations they will encounter in community spaces e.g. height as with the Bridge(Paws4Play) or A-Frame(Paws4Play) or ‘open steps’ as with the Step Platform(Paws4Play).

Is paws4play dog agility equipment the same as competition agility equipment?
No, for the simple reason that equipment designed for public parks has to consider public safety. Typically the height of Paws4Play equipment is lower than competition equipment and angles not as acute. Paws4Play dog agility equipment is designed primarily for dog education, confidence development and fun! It does however simulate competition agility equipment so is great equipment to practice on after dog training classes.

Examples of different applications of Paws4Play dog agility equipment – Guide Dogs Victoria (Aus), Animal Aid (Animal Shelter), Mornington Dog Park.














































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