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Online Resources for Dog Park Activists

Maryland links
Is Anne Arundel County the most dog-friendly place in America? The Dog's Best Friend
Barbara Bouyet's Web site is a good place for dog park activists to start their research. Turn down your audio and start taking notes! Very useful list of dog-related magazines. She also purveys educational videos, including one that we have to order:
The Urban Dog Park (30 minutes) This video takes you to dog parks from coast-to-coast. See how other communities build and maintain dog parks. Steve Eltinge interviews dog owners from coast-to-coast gathering ideas for you. The pleasure of our canine friends as they take advantage of community dog parks is reason enough to view this video. If your city fathers are on the edge of approving a dog park, this will convince them that it works!
Position paper prepared for the Special City Subcommittee on Dogs, October 1997, Santa Barbara, CA. Worth studying as a model.

This paper includes a lot of material specific to Santa Barbara, focusing especially on which area would be best suited to development as a dog park. This presentation would be useful to another group facing a similar task. However, much of the material is more general; those points are summarized here.

Partial Summary of Case for Space

  1. Primary rationale: equity in allocation of public resources. The municipality provides space for a wide array of recreational activities. Fairness and citizen demand require allocation of some existing open space for use as Off-Leash Recreation Areas (OLRA).
  2. Benefits of dogs to owners: companionship; mental and physical health
  3. Benefits of OLRAs to dogs:
    • Dogs exercised off-leash are less aggressive towards people than under-exercised dogs
    • OLRAs improve the mental state of dogs: less agitated, more relaxed
  4. Benefits of OLRAs to people:
    • Well-adjusted, less aggressive dog is more enjoyable, easier to handle
    • OLRAs provide place for people to meet and bond
    • OLRAs provide pleasures of watching dogs at play
    • OLRAs promote fitness by encouraging people to exercise with dogs
    • OLRAs provide opportunity for dog owners to enjoy themselves outdoors
  5. Benefits of OLRAs to community:
    • Socialization and exercise reduces incidence of dog aggression and attacks
    • Exercise mitigates tendency of dogs to create nuisance by barking excessively and destroying property
    • Availability of designated OLRAs reduces likelihood of dogs being allowed loose in other recreational areas, where they could infringe on the rights of other park users
    • Presence of dogs and owners serves as a neighborhood watch, reducing crime.
    • Availability of OLRAs reduces the drain on law enforcement and animal control resources, as there is less call to enforce leash laws and more time to devote to crime prevention.
    • OLRAs are social hubs, fostering sense of community
    • OLRAs promote responsible dog ownership: there is peer pressure to clean up and control one's dog; more likelihood of licensing; point of contact to disseminate information about training, vet care, and other services.
  6. Down-side of OLRAs
    • confrontations: between humans and dogs, among dogs, among dog owners, between dog owners and other park users, between dog owners and police or animal control officers
    • dog behavior: aggression; disease; heat; injury from spiked collars
    • dog waste: feces and urine
    • irresponsible owners, liability problems: failure to clean up, and difficulty of enforcement; dogs not under voice control; multiple dogs effective administration. Problems between dogs and children. Competition for food.
    • administration: who is responsible for enforcement? Funding.
  7. Strategic points in arguing for OLRA
    • compare number of dog owners to number of other recreational groups and available space
    • Correct misinformation.
      • Dog bites are not frequent. OLRA peer pressure promotes better supervision. Attacks less likely than if dogs are simply running loose elsewhere.
      • Dog feces, health risks: studies show that only humans with particularly weak immuno systems and young children have a significant susceptibility to dog-borne parasites. Health risks are minimal. Re water pollution: A study of water off existing southern CA dog beaches shows that water is not more polluted than at other beaches. It was found, also, that the single largest contributor to bacterial contamination in coastal waters is storm water and urban run-off from storm drains.

Articles by Claudia Kawczynska in The Bark
  • Dog Power
    Off-leash recreation is turning into one of the biggest imbroglios in park management, and one of the most politically challenging and hotly debated items for local legislators. It's inspiring participatory democracy at its finest, with off-leash advocates, many political novices, pulling out all stops to earn the right to exercise their dogs -- and it also has local politicians running for the hills. According to the March issue of Governing, most of these fights have much in common, and it cautions local legislators that "if you thought that taxes were the only issue that made voters' blood boil, then you haven't had a dog issue appear on the public agenda lately."
    According to Kawczynska, leash laws and the social acceptability of anti-dog prejudice have become common only since the 1990s. De facto dog parks have persisted in the face of these laws, which are generally enforced only if someone (usually a single irate citizen, like our own Arthur Samodovitz) badgers the police into giving out tickets.

  • A Doggedly Determined Political Action Plan Lots of strategic advice in this article.
    • Know your government inside out: the ordinances, the power structure, public agencies, the officials, and legislators. Meet with them.
    • Attend town meetings. Speak up. If there is a Dog Task Force, "Go as often as you can -- hounding them isn't a bad idea." ... "Speaking as someone who serves on a commission, it can't be stressed enough that attendance at these meetings does matter -- packing meeting rooms with supporters can sway votes even more than logical and heartfelt arguments."
    • Do not ignore the needs of the community. Volunteer for civic committees, councils, task forces. Work from within.
    • Gather support. There are authorities out there who will write letters to support your campaign: city officials, veterinarians, humane associations, and others. Get them to write to your mayor, Common Council, task force, and legislators. They have offered!

    Memo to TCDOG! If your town sets up a "task force" to study the dog park problem...
    A task force centralizes the "process," but it needs to represent your constituency as well, with its public meetings conducted openly with schedules properly noticed, and in locations accessible to public participation. Since it is the park users who should determine local park needs, a task force shouldn't just be packed with city hall pols and bureaucrats.

    Does anyone in TCDOG beside Ken Zeserson even know when the Dog Park Task meets?

    It is extremely important that if such an issue-specific committee is convened, your group is well-represented at its hearings -- let it be known that this is your issue! A recent decision to "de-list" some San Francisco parks for off-leash activity came about when opponents outnumbered proponents at the final meeting of that city's dog task force. Speaking as someone who serves on a commission, it can't be stressed enough that attendance at these meetings does matter -- packing meeting rooms with supporters can sway votes even more than logical and heartfelt arguments.

  • Running with a Pack More strategic advice:
    • Form a regional umbrella group to broaden your base
    • Prepare informational presentations, position papers, and fact sheets. Most of the arguments and information is out there, ready to be borrowed. There are even videos: Your Dog Off Leash, prepared by Dog PAC, Santa Barbara, and the Point Isabel Video Project.
    • For polemic purposes, focus on the benefits of dog parks to people -- to individuals as well as neighborhoods, to the elderly, to taxpayers, to voters. The Case for Space: Tompkins County Needs a Dog Park
"We have the opportunity to rise above other communities who polarize themselves over the issue of off-leash park space. Tompkins County has the ability to demonstrate to others that recreation space is for all citizens, so that no one set of park stakeholders has the power to drive another set from the parks." Mayor Peterson and members of the Ithaca Common Council: what say you? The Dog Park:
A guide to dog parks across the country. Includes a [simplistic] guide to starting a dog park in your community Dog Play

A variety of articles and resources, mostly about having [legal] fun with your dog, but also including a page about dog parks
The American Dog Trainers Network: Dog Runs and Dog Parks. Advice on setting up a dog park from the late Robin Kovary. Public Open Space and Dogs
The new field of Urban Animal Management is very big in Australia, which, in terms of innovation and inspired planning, has far outdistanced the United States in several areas that I am aware of. (They even have a national department of backpacking!) Public Open Space and Dogs is an in-depth position paper in which professional planners and academics presenting the case for Integrated Urban Animal Management.


Want to start a dog park of your own? Here are some great tips from Robin Kovary, whose group was told it was impossible and achieved it.
Attorney Joel Zand's Web site is most useful for NYC doggers. I like the "pro bone" page." Lawyers who specialize in dog law
Got this page from

Article in Urban Desires E-zine: UD Style - Dog Runs

An overview on a variety of dog parks. Good to read through if you are thinking of trying to start one.

When can I let my dog off leash? by Perfect Paws

A nice article with a realistic outlook. Pay attention!

Dog Friendly Parks in Marin County, California

Outlines important points for anyone interested in promoting dog parks in their own area. Provides information on Marin County Dog Parks.

Ann Arbor Dog Park: Project and Process

A detailed discussion of the philosophy and process of starting a dog park in Ann Arbor. Should be very useful to anyone wanting to start one in their community.

Point Isabel Dog Owners
Point Isabel Regional Shoreline maintained by the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) as a mixed-use, open space area where responsible owners may bring their dogs to run off-leash.


Poway Dog Park

In Poway California, one of the pages on this site outlines ideas for dog parks.

Parsons Kansas Dog Owners Association

A group for dog owners in Parsons, Kansas and the surrounding communities. Big and small dogs welcome- all breeds and mixes. Long term goals for our group include annual dog events, dog play groups, training with free or low-cost classes, and lobbying for a fenced off-leash park in Parsons.

Pleasant Hill Dog Owners Group

Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, flyers, etc.

Dog Park Rules and Guidelines

Some dog park rules and guidelines submitted courtesy of Susan Umbley.

Dog-Play: Dog Parks

A general discussion on dog parks and some thoughts on starting one or keeping one going.

Links to Finding Dog Parks or Places Allowing Off Leash Dogs

Please don't write me asking if I know of a dog park near you. I don't collect that kind of information. The links on the pages below may collect that kind of information. If someone has submitted the information, then they will have it. You can be rest assured that nothing is being hidden from you.

An on-line magazine and discussion forum about dog parks and listings of dog parks across the United States.

Free Play

This site is devoted to promoting dog parks and dog runs for every community. It has collected information on places that have dog parks as well as exploring how to establish them.

Dog Fun Directory

Listing of off-leash areas by State, including some listings outside the USA

The Dog Park

A searchable database listing dog parks across the USA.

Dog Walk Events

Something most people don't think about is the group dog walk. Some are scheduled as purely social events, some are fund raisers. This site is devoted to Dog Walk Events - promoting them, and helping you find events near you to participate in.

Pets Welcome
Information on hotels that accept dogs.

Dog Friendly Parks in San Francisco

A list of parks in San Francisco, off-leash allowed. The rest of the site has some other good information on dog related services.

Dave's Santa Clara County Dog Park Page

A description of the each park visited, comments and discussion.

Hamden Dog Park

Hamden Dog Park at Bassett in Hamden, Connecticut. How it came about, what it's like, activities and pictures.

Jean-Luc's Place - Point Isabel

More of a story than a discussion about dog parks.

Canine Friends Leash Free

Leash-Free parks and information for the Toronto-Mississauga-Brampton areas.

Dog Parks of Mississauga and Beyond

Information compiled by Pat Saito of off-leash parks in the Mississauga area, and links for other places in Canada and the USA.

Badger Kennel Club, Inc.--Annual Events

I put this in mostly as a reminder that starting a dog park is not the end of the process.

Hiking and Backpacking With Your Dog

A few links to some great sites on preparing your dog for long hikes and backpacking, where to find equipment and similar information. Also lists places where dogs are allowed to be off leash but are not dog parks. They are standard recreational facilities where the rules allows dogs off leash, but your dog is expected not to interfere with strangers.

Poway Dog Park
Dave's Off-Leash Dog Parks in Santa Clara County Page


National Capital Coalition for People and Dogs [Ottawa]

Even in Taiwan!
Here's an article from Liberty Times (2006/01/11). I'm copying it lest the article be removed from the Taiwan Headlines Web site.

Taiwan's first dog park to be established at riverside park

Chinese throughout the world are gearing up for the Lunar New Year, which is just around the corner. According to the Chinese calendar, this new year is the Year of the Dog. Taiwan will be marking the Year of the Dog by beginning construction on its first dog park, which will offer a place for dogs to exercise. Construction on the park is planned to commence right after the Lantern Festival. It is expected that at the beginning of February, the place will offer a venue for dogs to be able to run around and play with other dogs without having to be on a leash.

Taiwan's first official dog park will be situated in the Chintai section of the Tachia Riverside Park, which is already a favorite venue for dog owners to take their canine friends to. The area will cover about 10,000 square meters and will offer a place for hundreds of large and small dogs to frolic about. The Taipei Municipal Institute for Animal Health intends to create two different zones in the park. The first area, which will be 6,000 meters in size, will be set aside for dogs that weigh nine kilograms or more. The remaining 4,000-square-meter zone will be designated for smaller dogs that weigh less than nine kilograms. The park area will be enclosed with double gates, making it more difficult for dogs to enter or exit the zones on their own.

Presently, park regulations state that dogs are not allowed in parks to walk around or play. This has created quite a problem for Taipei's increasing number of dog owners, who do not know where to take their dogs to play. In response to the problem, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, when running for office, brought up the idea of creating parks for pets throughout the city. Ma suggested setting up parks that were dedicated areas where dogs could run around and exercise. Given Mayor Ma's policy on the issue, the Institute for Animal Health over the past few years has selected a number of riverside parks throughout the city where the dog parks could be established. After the initial selection, the institute then surveyed residents in the area about their opinion. Ultimately, a decision was made to set up a dog park in the Tachia Riverside Park. The institute said that the Tachia Riverside Park is already a popular place to hold pet-related activities over the weekend and is a spot that dog owners are well aware of. In addition, the park is located next to the Keelung River where barking from the dogs will not create a nuisance since there are not any residential buildings located nearby.

The institute added that in addition to zoning the area into two parks for the bigger and smaller animals, a fence 150 centimeters high will be constructed around the total area so that the dogs will not bother people who are only strolling through the park. When taking dogs into the riverside park area, dog owners will be required to keep their pets on a leash. Once they are inside the special dog park area within the confines of the fence, they will be allowed to unleash their pets.

In addition, authorities will set up refuse receptacles in the park where dog owners can toss the droppings of their pets. The receptacles will also offer plastic bags so that dog owners can pick up after their pets and maintain the cleanliness of the area. The park area will also be fitted with benches where dog owners can sit and relax. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the dog park will be a sand pit that is designed in the form of a dog bone. This will provide an area where dogs can roll and play around. The institute said that construction on the area will commence after the Lantern Festival and it is expected to take about 20 days to complete the project. The dog park is estimated to be ready to be opened to the public at the end of February. The place will offer an area where man's best friends can play around in the open.

Other links are posted at

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