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Finding a suitable and safe dog park

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Moving to Western Sydney from Adelaide in Dec 2017 the primary goal (after accommodation) was to find a few local dog parks for my 2yr old rescue husky (Seela) at a standard that respects her and my needs in a safe and secure environment. The sad reality is that every one of them we have found so far is lacking in the essentials.

Council’s try and provide facilities to meet the needs of their constituents – however without experiencing the challenges of standing in the freezing wind, muddy puddles underfoot, huddled under an umbrella with your own folding chair or skin burning in baking hot sun because there is no shade or even grass to sit on while waiting for pup to finish playing or doing their business – how can they be expected to know.

This analysis of facilities for the dog parks we visit is a guide to those looking for a new place for their pup to play, for visitors or even for council’s who would like to lead in providing a standard others want to follow.

next: The Criteria and why

Lap Dog

Milperra – Vale of Ah

Address: Auld Ave, Milperra NSW 2214

Description: Massive, open park with trees bordering 3 sides & two ‘forest’ areas that the doggies love to explore. So far the favourite park we’ve seen & had the pleasure of meeting with many lovely regulars.

  • Fences: 5ft high, user- patched up gaps
  • Entry/Exit areas & Gates:
    5 entries – all missing / un-aligned latches. Most held closed with cord!! Few have spring loaded hinges & some hinges have no spring left in them. Gaps under gates a risk for small & medium sized adventurous dogs.
  • Grass: Has large lawn play areas + areas of dry dirt/ weed. This week only the fence, ‘forest’ & tree borders were mowed leaving main grassed area patchy & untidy.
  • Trees & bushes: Great shady trees & bushes for hiding, playing & sheltering in. 
  • Water: 2 artistic, impractical water fountains that trickle water. One has a user-fitted creative modification to divert the water into user supplied 20lt water buckets. A proper twin tap is located on the outer border of the park servicing the carpark?!?
  • Agility / Play equipment, platforms, mounds: Located on one side of park – basic gear that isnt favoured by dogs unless owner is training for reward. Could do with large stormwater concrete pipes placed centrally.
  • Lighting: Lights exist facing the dog park but these are not turned on pre-dawn, twilight or dark. No timer is available for safe access & use of the park to those whose circumstances prevent them from exercising their pooches during daylight hours.
  • Shelter: Single small shelter with platform located on one side of park only near agility area. Completely inadequate for wet & windy days as one would have to stand at the centre of platform under shelter & still have their legs wet.
  • Seating: Park benches are scattered around the park – all exposed to sun & rain.
  • Poo Bags: Dedicated users have brought their own shopping bags as none are provided by council.  A disgraceful amount of poo is left uncollected – I’ve watched owners stop to observe their pooch defecating & walked off. A walk in this park is an intricate dance to avoid collecting a souvenir on the base of your shoe. 
  • Bins: Requires emptying more often & accessible by stepping outside the park to deposit rubbish.
  • Toilet facilities: None

Nice to have: Separated Small dog / Large Dog areas: None – single mixed size park

FACILITIES SCORE: 5/12

Dog Park Basic Criteria

These are the 12 basics in no particular order by which the dog parks are analysed:

  • Fences: No one wants their pooch to be able to slip below or through a fence gap to an uncertain adventure.
  • Entry/Exit areas & Gates: Safe space to enter & know spring loaded gate hinge & latch closes securely behind you while you unhook/attach dog lead. (Also used for ‘time-out’ for misbehaving pooches)
  • Grass: Must have lawn play areas for zoomies, play fights, rolling in, etc. – a dustbowl, dry weed ground or plain dirt is not acceptable.
  • Trees & bushes: A bare-naked holding pen without trees & bushes for hiding, playing & sheltering in is not a dog park. Nature is appreciated by humans & pooches alike.
  • Water: Multiple water taps & tipping bowls for pups to cool hot paws & heads centrally located. Ideally a spray hose for hot days or cleaning a messy pup. Artistic, impractical water fountains that trickle water into tiny bowls or step-on dribble spouts are entirely inadequate.
  • Agility / Play equipment, platforms, mounds: Without these – it is just an animal holding pen/cell & not a play park.
  • Lighting: Many owners & shift workers take pup to parks before or after work – usually in the pre-dawn, twilight or dark. It is vital that lighting on timer is available for safe access & use of the park to those whose circumstances prevent them from exercising their pooches during daylight hours.
  • Shelter: Rain & Sun shelter for owners & pooches because lets face it – dogs playing with each other is an entertaining spectators delight.
  • Seating: See above
  • Poo Bags: Shouldnt even have to put this on the list but only 2 dog parks in over 8 visited so far have supplied bags. If parks are expected to be cleaned the bags need to be provided.
  • Bins: Emptied often & accessible without having to step outside the park to deposit rubbish.
  • Toilet facilities: Electronic single access- self cleaning toilet takes up very little space & provides a facility that many dog park users would welcome.

Nice to have: Separated Small dog / Large Dog areas for those pups or timid dogs to play safely without the fear of an incident early in their development.