Dog Parks: the Good, the Bad, and the “Must Know”

Tompkins Square Big Dog Run (photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Dog parks, like this one in New York City’s Tompkins Square, can be a great place for a well-mannered dog and its owner.  (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Book #2 in the Waterside Kennels mystery series (due out later this year) introduces a dog park to the region. When carefully designed and managed well, dog parks can be a wonderful addition to any community. If you’re interested in creating a dog park where you live, check out this AKC pamphlet or explore the AKC’s website. (Great stuff there!)

In the “real world” setting of my series, the lovely village of Eureka Springs, Arkansas is constructing its first dog park. The Eureka Springs Bark Park is set to open soon. Like many parks, the Bark Park has a designated area for small dogs (30 lbs. and under) and a larger space for bigger breeds. Since this photo (below) was taken, the fencing is nearly complete and we’ll soon see dogs at play here.  You can follow the park’s progress here.

Groundbreaking ceremony at Eureka Springs' Bark Park

Groundbreaking ceremony at Eureka Springs’ Bark Park (Photo courtesy of Bark Park Facebook page)

Although I had a dog park planned for my series long before I’d heard of the Bark Park, I’m delighted to see my fictional world is nicely in tune with the region.  As the series progresses, I expect we’ll see some conflict and drama at the (fictional) dog park, just as we’ve already seen at Waterside Kennels in Deadly Ties. I’d like to think all my characters (and their dogs) are smart enough to know how to play well with others, but since I write a mystery series it’s likely somebody (human, canine, or possibly both) will cause trouble at some point.

Whether you’re new to the world of dog parks or a long-time fan, it’s always good to review the basic etiquette for dogs and their owners.  A quick search of the Internet will turn up dozens of sites with all sorts of tips and ideas to ensure your visit is a happy one. In addition to the AKC’s site, Petfinder.com has very useful tips to help you learn to recognize the difference between “good play” and “bully” behaviors. The bottom line: know your dog, be aware of your surroundings, and never leave your dog unattended.

“My dog wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

Ever heard that comment from a dog owner? My colleague C. A. Newsome (who writes “cozy mysteries with bite!”) certainly has. She and her dogs spend a lot of time at her local dog park and she’s the author of the Lia Anderson Dog Park Mysteries.

In the interest of keeping beahvior problems out of our dog parks, I’m sharing an article from her blog with her generous permission. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read this important message.

Click on the “Dogs dogs dogs” tab near the top of the page and get the facts you and your dog need to stay safe.

7 thoughts on “Dog Parks: the Good, the Bad, and the “Must Know”

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