To keep your dog happy, healthy and out of trouble, you’ll need to find ways to exercise her brain and body. If she enjoys the company of her own kind, visits to your local dog park can greatly enrich her life. Benefits of going to the dog park include:
- Physical and mental exercise for dogs. Your dog can zoom around off-leash to her heart’s content, investigate new smells, wrestle with her dog buddies and fetch toys until she happily collapses. Many dogs are so mentally and physically exhausted by a trip to the dog park that they snooze for hours afterwards.
- Opportunities to maintain social skills. Dogs are like us, highly social animals, and many enjoy spending time with their own species. At the dog park, your dog gets practice reading a variety of other dogs’ body language and using her own communication skills, and she gets used to meeting unfamiliar dogs on a frequent basis. These valuable experiences can help guard against the development of fear and aggression problems around other dogs.
- Fun for pet parents. Dogs aren’t the only ones who enjoy dog parks. People do, too. They can exercise their dogs without much effort, socialize with other dog lovers, bond and play with their dogs, practice their off-leash training skills, and enjoy the entertaining antics of frolicking dogs.
- Allows for all dogs to get proper exercise. An accessible dog park provides disabled and elderly people a place to exercise their companions safely (for both them and the animal).
For non-dog owners, benefits include:
- 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.
- 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 may help deter crime. In addition, dogs who are accustomed to playing with animals and people other than their owners are more likely to be well socialized and react well toward strangers. In NYC, dog bites went from 40,000 annually before its off-leash areas to fewer than 4,000 bites after.
- Build tourism and growth for our community. A dog park will tempt people off of I-70/I-470 who are traveling with pets. Pet owners plan lunch/dinners breaks and overnights stays around the presence of dog-friendly places. Richard Florida’s book Rise of the Creative Class stresses the importance of “developing a world-class people climate” as part of the economic development process. A place to walk one’s dog is specifically noted as an investment that benefits a wide swath of the population and attracts the “creative class” that makes a local economy vibrant.
References from ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist and the American Kennel Club