3 Benefits of Dog Parks in Communities

According to a recent study by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), roughly 48% of US households own at least one dog. With this number continuing to grow, many planners and recreation departments are including dog parks in their plans. It is important to consider the benefits of dog parks within a community and the positive effects on people, dogs, and neighborhoods.

Why should communities have more dog parks?

  1. Dog parks make your community safer by offering a secure area for dogs to exercise and socialize away from busy streets.

When dogs get adequate physical and mental exercise they need, humans notice a decrease in the level of troublesome behavior from their dogs, which will benefit the community.

dog park
  1. They allow owners a chance to be physically active with their pets.

Did you know that dog owners tend to have lower triglycerides, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels compared to non-dog owners? Plus, animals add love and companionship to your household and your family, which can help to reduce stress levels.

  1. They bring communities closer and build a dog-friendly network, allowing you to meet more people and improve your social life.

dog parkWhile the dogs are playing, community members are more likely to form relationships, participate in conversation, and exchange information such as events, doctors, and veterinarians.


S&ME Landscape Architect

Bruce Hall S&ME Landscape Architect

S&ME employee-owner, Bruce Hall, is a Principal Landscape Architect within our Planning + Design group. Bruce, who has Belgian Malinois dogs and is a foster parent in a national rescue/adoption organization for the breed with his wife, leads the design of many of our dog park projects.

He tells us that,

“Many communities and residential developers are responding to their residents’ desires by adding dog parks to their recreational facilities. The dog parks range broadly in size, amenities, and features. As designers of these environments, we consider the surfaces, address areas where excessive wear is likely to occur, fence alignments, and the amenities for both dogs and their companions.”

S&ME Dog Park Projects

S&ME strives to create unique environments for their dog parks that make them desirable destinations for bringing dogs and people together for more than just a quick-burning off of energy. Our services for these parks include; public involvement, conceptual design, geotechnical engineering, landscape, and hardscape design, and civil engineering construction documents. Site elements for dog parks typically include double gate entry areas, 4′ fencing with rounded corners, hardscape or stone surfaces around seating areas, turf or a fine stone for open run areas, shade, lighting, seating, drinking fountains with bowls and bottle fillers, and raised dog wash stations. On occasion and if space permits, a “doggie” timeout space is introduced for dogs not playing well with others or for those desiring to have a little space of their own if they are not comfortable in the open play environment is available.

Lake Mirror Dog Park, Lakeland, Florida

dog park

The group provided public involvement and master planning services for Lakeland’s one-acre urban dog park, which shares space with a highway overpass used in the park for shade. The park features an entry plaza of three dog statues with an area for a photo op with “your dog” among the statues, a large open space with a fine stone play surface, perimeter walkways, seat wall planters, a large centrally positioned dog “paw” mound, a small doggie quiet area and dog wash stations.

Paw Park Village, Sanford, Florida

dog park

Our team facilitated a public workshop, design charrette, production of construction documents, and coordinated with City staff for the Paw Park Village, which received the Planning Project Award of Merit from the American Planning Association, Florida Chapter, 2018. Dog amenities include entrances with double gates to prevent dogs from slipping out of the park, an interactive drinking fountain, synthetic turf play pods, agility equipment, and ample open space to run and play. Amenities for dog owners include a dog wash area, wide shady sidewalks, and an open-air shelter.

Celebration Dog Park, Celebration, Florida

dog parkWe worked with the Town of Celebration’s Parks Advisory Board to develop a conceptual design for Celebration Unleashed, which opened in 2017. The completed design featured large and small dog areas, dog wash areas, retention of the existing trees, and large expanses of mulch and stone around trees to reduce wear and tear.

Contact Us

Lynne Musick Client Development Leader S&MEFor information on Planning + Design services, please contact Lynne Musick.