“… As I listened to the concerns of these Seattle residents, I thought back to the time when I served as a member and chair of a Park Board … when I developed a personal philosophy that ALL residents of a community had a right to utilize park facilities, not just SOME residents.… Why NOT have some areas where dog owners could exercise and play with their pets, socialize with other dog owners?… I came to agree with what Seattle dog owners from all over this city were saying: this is not a DOG issue; it is a PEOPLE issue. It is about recognizing off-leash activity as a valid recreational activity. It is about Seattle residents who pay taxes to support our parks system, who willingly pay for those swimming pools, tennis courts and fields that they may never use and who ask in return only that they be allowed in some places in some parks and to be able to engage in their favorite recreational activity.”
Jan Drago, City of Seattle Councilmember
The top benefit is what a dog park does for the dogs themselves. It gives them the space and freedom to run off-leash with other members of their species, all while being safely supervised.
A dog park is not only a secure place for dogs to engage in the vigorous exercise essential to their wellbeing. For some city dwellers, a dog park may also provide their only chance to interact with other dogs and people. And because a well socialized dog is less likely to develop behavior problems such as aggression and excessive barking, an outdoor “club for canines” may help reduce associated neighborhood conflicts.
“In this day and age, when we’re all working, it’s essential that we create a place where dogs can go and stretch their legs and get socialized in a play group,” says Kate Pullen, director of the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, Virginia, which was instrumental in creating public openspace areas for unleashed dogs back in the early ’70s. “It’s important for a healthy, happy dog.”
Dog parks may be critical for the owners’ happiness, too. While their dogs are busy socializing with each other, owners are doing the same, creating a sense of community and camaraderie. And from the humane agency’s point of view, dog parks perform an even greater service: strengthening the human-animal bond. “Going to a dog park is an activity that an owner and a dog can do together,” says Madeline Bernstein, president of the Los Angeles SPCA in California. “For many people, the dogs really are their only companions. If they can go to a dog park, it gives them a reason to get dressed, go out, socialize, play with their dog, and strengthen that bond between them. If that doesn’t serve a community need, I don’t know what does.” Dog Parks: Can a Place That Lets Rover Roam Help Your Shelter? by Joanne Bourbeau, Animal Sheltering, May - June 1998
“…The trial period came to an end, and following public hearing, the decision was made to retain all five locations. Testimonials include the fact that people have moved into a neighborhood because of their existence, and that people derive enjoyment in sharing this activity with others; it is as if these locations are community centers for people as well as canines. There have been no complaints about people having failed to clean up after their dogs.…introducing a new activity to a park can bring out the kind of people you want in parks, which can help control some of the undesirable activity that may be taking place [in the park].”
John Etter, Parks Planning, Public Works Maintenance, Eugene, OR
[The creation of a Dog Park] provides an outlet for dog owners to socialize. Dog parks are a great place for owners to meet other people with common interests. The love people share for their dogs reaches beyond economic and social barriers and helps to foster a sense of community. Park users also benefit from the opportunity to ask questions of other owners and find solutions to problems they might be having with their pet. What is a Dog Park and How Does it Benefit the Community? The American Kennel Club
"Dogs facilitate friendly interactions among people, as they so actively solicit play and offer greetings. Establishing a dog park creates a community center of activity where friends and neighbors gather to relax. Users of dog parks are self-policing so as to maintain the appealing environment. Creating dog parks is a method for more efficiently educating dog owners and facilitating them in assuring excellent behavior with their dogs." Dr. Lynette Hart, director of UC Davis' Center for Animals in Society
It would have been impossible for anyone to anticipate the wide array of positive experiences that the Canine Companion Zones (CCZs) have generated since their inception. From the coldest weather to the hottest summer day, the dog parks have been populated with warm friendly people of all ages and backgrounds. They have become places where fast food workers and doctors, teachers and students, construction workers and attorneys find common ground. They have become zones where ethnic, racial and generational barriers dissolve. They are areas of respite for tired workers and an opportunity for seniors to stay connected. Often seniors and handicapped dog owners are unable to endure the physical strain of walking their dogs. The K9 zones provide an opportunity for a healthy and refreshing outdoor experience for these dog owners. People who have experienced personal losses come to the parks with their dogs hoping to move beyond their grief and to experience a renewed sense of connection. People who have reason to celebrate come to share their joy and excitement with their park acquaintances! Surprisingly, these parks are a source of entertainment for non-dog owning neighbors and children who often come to sit outside the fence and watch. Benefits to the Community, K-9 Companion Zone, Indianapolis, Indiana
[The creation of a Dog Park] promotes responsible dog ownership. Dog parks prevent off-leash animals from infringing on the rights of other community residents and park users such as joggers, small children, and those who may be fearful of dogs. Parks also make it easier for a city to enforce its leash laws, as resident dog owners with park access have no reason to allow their canine companions off-leash when outside of the park. What is a Dog Park and How Does it Benefit the Community? The American Kennel Club
“Designating an area where dog owners can allow their animals to run off-leash successfully remedies this problem in parks where the concept has been introduced. Violations of the leash law and subsequent public complaints have decreased; and dog owners have a place to legally exercise their pets.” Off-leash areas allow dog owners to be law-abiding, easing the burden of enforcement on animal control officers and freeing them to do more important work, such as animal rescue and control of dangerous animals. Planning Parks for Pets, a National Parks & Recreation Service booklet.
[The creation of a Dog Park] makes for a better community by promoting public health and safety. Well-exercised dogs are better neighbors who are less likely to create a nuisance, bark excessively and destroy property. Their presence in the park, along with their owners, also helps to deter crime. What is a Dog Park and How Does it Benefit the Community? The American Kennel Club