Dog parks aren’t just for the dogs. In a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. dog owners, we found two-thirds (66%) of dog owners agree they love their local dog park.1
Want a dog park in your community but don’t know where to start? We’re here to help with a step-by-step guide to getting a new dog park project underway in your neighborhood.
• Talk to Your Community: Talk to your friends and neighbors to determine the need and desire for a dog park near you. From our survey, we found more than a quarter of dog owners said they agree their local dog park is a great place to bring people and dogs from the community together. So there’s interest! You’ll want a group of supporters on board before moving forward with talking to City or government officials in order to demonstrate the greater community interest and need. From this group, identify volunteers willing to help you move a project forward and share your commitment.
• Make Your Mission for the Park Clear: With the collaboration of your neighbors and project supporters, articulate why a new dog park is important and necessary for your community. Being able to speak to the mission will make it that much easier to get the proper approvals and garner wider community support.
• Set up a Public Meeting: Once you have your local supporters group on board, set up an open and public meeting to discuss broader interest and get suggestions for a new dog park including desired public locations and desirable amenities for both dog owners and dogs. The purpose of this meeting is to brainstorm and start developing a wish list for the project and establish demand for the dog park, which will help as you approach City officials to formally propose the project. To get the discussion started: when we asked dog owners what their favorite features of their existing local dog park is or what they would like to see, they responded with shaded areas (34%), drinking fountains (31%), water features for dogs to play in (28%), etc.1
• Engage City Officials: Once you’ve got enough public support behind you and are able to clearly articulate how a dog park will benefit the community, it’s time to meet with local officials to get the ball rolling. In most communities, the Parks and Recreations department is responsible for the construction and maintenance of dog parks, so do your homework to ensure you meet with the right person/people.
Your initial discussions should:
•Establish the community demand for a dog park
•Gauge the feasibility of getting City support for your project
•Identify what information is needed to formally submit a proposal
•Gain a full understanding of the process to get a dog park added to the City Council agenda for vote (This process will vary greatly from one municipality to another, and establishing a good working relationship with city officials will be key to getting your project approved)
•Clearly identify the next steps for both you and the person you are meeting with
• Continue To Build Momentum: The submission and approval process for your dog park project may be a lengthy one, and the continued enthusiasm and support of the community will be critical to maintain and build momentum while you work to move the project forward. While working with city officials, make sure you provide regular updates to your volunteer group and clearly outline any activities that they can do to help move the process along.
• Design Your Dog Park: Once the location of the dog park has been identified and the initial project is approved, work with the City to design the dog park to ensure the desires of the dog owning community are taken into account. Make sure dog-friendly materials are included in the plan to ensure safety is top of mind.
• Talk Money: When the general design in in place, bids can be gathered for a good understanding of the budget requirements to bring the park to life and how much money will need to be raised by the public to move the project forward. From there, fundraising can begin. Fundraising tips are available here
• • Once your fundraising needs are met and construction is complete, it’s time to relax and enjoy the dog park with your friends, neighbors and, most importantly, your four-legged friend. You may be surprised by how much you benefit from regular visits to the new dog park. We found nearly 80% of dog owners agree their local dog park provides a place for them to exercise and be healthy with their dogs.1
1- The 2016 Beneful Dream Dog Park Survey presents the findings of an online survey conducted by Toluna from February 22-24, 2016 among a sample of 1,060 American dog owners 18 years of age and older. The margin of error for a sample of this size is ± 3% at a 95% level of confidence.