Tips for your Residential Community Dog Park
According to a report by the National Apartment Association, pet amenities like dog parks have the highest ROI of any other amenity, even more than gyms! To get the most out of your dog park amenity, you want to focus on creating a space that's inviting to residents and gives an opportunity for them to socialize with other pet parents. It's a great way to build community and drive retention. But, unfortunately, not showing enough love to your dog park can quickly result in it becoming a large smelly pee pad, or a potentially dangerous environment for resident dogs. Here are some tips to consider when designing and upgrading your dog park!
Make it Comfortable
Adding features that make the dog park more comfortable for humans turns it into a communal space for residents to connect and let their dogs socialize, rather than just being a place for their dog to poop! Adding benches is a great start to making the space more inviting.
Along with seating, adding some shade to at least part of the dog park helps make it more enjoyable to hang out versus just using it as a large potty pad. Dogs also need an area to cool off during play, especially in high temperatures, to reduce the risk of heatstroke. And as a bonus, adding in features like shade and seating also encourage residents to treat the space with respect and keep it clean (a.k.a. pickup their dog's poop!), because they enjoy spending time there.
Offer a Hydration Station
An available running water supply for dogs in the park is highly recommended, if you have water hookups available. The flowing water fountain system helps minimize the risk of spreading diseases, a common issue with large shared bowls of standing water. If this isn’t an option, providing an easily accessible hose and bowl, with signage to remind residents to empty the bowl after each use, is a simple alternative.
Remember - residents at Bark Buildings receive a collapsible water bowl as part of their resident welcome gift! These can come especially useful during long trips to the dog park in the summer months if a hose is handy.
For safety and liability reasons, having a double gate at the entrance is very important. It ensures that dogs can't easily get out and run away as other people enter/leave. It also helps when a latch on one of the gates breaks; you still have the other one! Fencing should also be 5 ft. or higher to prevent dogs from jumping over it.
Choosing the right flooring for your dog park is key for both ease of maintenance as well as dog safety! The options are seemingly endless - grass, dirt, turf, gravel, pea gravel, decomposed granite, the list goes on… Each option has its own set of upkeep instructions as well as pros and cons, and these may vary based on the placement of your dog park. What works best for a rooftop space may not be ideal for a converted ground floor parking space. There are many solutions out there, and once you pick one, it’s not easy to switch out…so make sure you do your research and consult with experts before solidifying your flooring.
Displaying rules at the entrance to the dog park is always a good idea to maintain a safe environment. Consider adding a sign at the front entrance with park hours (if applicable) and basic rules for residents. Pre-made signs can be purchased on Amazon or from building suppliers, or use them as a reference point and create custom signage for your community!
Keep It Clean
You can’t talk about a dog park without talking about POOP! Making sure poop bags are always available at the park is very important to help ensure residents pick up after their dog. Signage reminding them to pick up their pet’s poop is also very important...like the "Scoop the Poop" signage that Bark Buildings offers! While these things may seem like common sense, it’s essential to remove obstacles that prevent residents from being diligent about picking up poop.
For both aesthetic and health reasons, we highly recommend adding a daily dog park hose-down to your maintenance team’s routine. There are also safe disinfectants that can, and perhaps should, be used depending on the surface. In addition, maintenance may be needed more frequently in the summer, since the smell of dog pee gets amplified in the heat.
As a last resort, we’ve seen a number of buildings have success by installing a camera at the park and warning residents who don’t pick up after themselves. Ultimately, if you create the most beautiful dog park but there is poop laying around, people will just use it as a pee pad instead of a place where their dog can socialize with other dogs in the community - so cleanliness should be a top priority!
Avoid Toys and Treats
Making toys or treats available for residents at the dog park may seem like a fun idea, but it's actually very dangerous and should 100% be avoided! Some dogs can be possessive with objects (or even with certain people), and things can escalate very quickly if two dogs are interested in playing with the same toy. Unfortunately, this happens more frequently than you’d think and can easily be prevented by not allowing toys at the dog park.
While residents may bring treats for their dogs, we also do not recommend having treats readily available at the park. This distracts from play and can also create an issue with possessive dogs.
Kick it up a notch
Adding fixtures or obstacles can go a long way in beautifying your dog park and making it more appealing for both your two legged and four legged residents! They especially help make your dog park stand out and look more exciting when you feature it on your property’s website and instagram. Consider adding a fire hydrant statue, climbing rocks, or agility obstacles to kick your dog park up a notch!
Having an inviting dog park goes a long way in keeping your residents satisfied and attracting new pet owners to your community. We’ve seen a lot of dog parks, and the ones that get the most usage are always the ones that are cleaned frequently and that offer human-friendly features in addition to dog-friendly ones.
Are you looking to amp up your pet amenity programming? Treat your residents by signing up for the Bark Buildings pet amenity program! We’ll amplify your building’s pet-friendliness - from a dedicated pet concierge, pet events, vetted local service providers, and a pet of the month program - your residents and their pets will truly love where they live! Learn more here.