Dog Park Safety Measures in the Age of COVID-19
With a few minor tweaks, you can make sure your dog park remains a healthy experience for all, even during a pandemic!
By Pet Pro Supply Co. Featured Dog Park Expert,
Marketing Manager at PlayCore, owners of BarkPark Dog Park Equipment
This article is a part of a larger Pet Pro Supply Co. series on Dog Parks. See the list of articles below:
- Dog Parks: Great for Everyone, Not Just the Dogs
- How to Design a High-Quality Dog Park
- One Size Does NOT Fit All – Separate Spaces for Large and Small Dogs
- How to Maintain Your Dog Park
- Dog Park Safety Measures in the Age of COVID-19
- What Type of Surfacing Should I Use in a Dog Park?
- Buy Dog Park Equipment
The world looks a LOT different after the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. We have all felt the impact of this terrible virus and our lives will be forever changed. As good citizens we are all doing our part to make sure we are not spreading the virus; we are wearing masks, washing our hands, and isolating ourselves.
As the world has started to adjust to our “new normal,” one thing hasn’t changed: we still desire to interact and socialize with our friends and neighbors.
Science believes that transmission of the virus outside in fresh air is rare, and so the great outdoors has now become quite the popular meeting space; it allows communities to safely come back together. For this reason, and because pet adoptions soared as a result of the pandemic, dog parks are now more popular than ever.
However, it is very important that additional safety measures are implemented in dog parks to account for the virus.
Of course, the first place you need to look to is local ordinances and making sure you are adhering to community guidelines. Other things to consider are signage, re-evaluating flow and spacing, hand sanitizer stations, and encouraging users to change the timing of their visits.
Specific and direct signage is a great way to show that you are advocating for good health in your community. These friendly reminders are imperative for the safety of your park goer. Dog parks are known to be self-policing and displaying signage empowers users to hold each other accountable. This is actually similar to how "clean up after your pet" signs help drive compliance with picking up waste!
Spacing Out Equipment and Distancing
This is a great time to re-evaluate your dog park layout. If there are agility obstacles clustered together, it may be a good idea to spread these out more. With ongoing concerns regarding COVID-19, even if these products are set in concrete, there is no better time than now to go ahead and make this update.
As far as distancing goes, the signage reminders will help, but another way to naturally distance users is by adjusting the seating arrangements. It is a good idea to spread benches and seating out wherever possible. If seating is limited, now is also a great time to add a few benches into your park to further allow people to physically distance.
A new trend we are seeing is outdoor hand sanitizer stations. There are numerous commercial grade models out there, built to last outdoors. My personal favorite is one developed by BarkPark that is a waste station/hand sanitizer combo. This serves a dual purpose and has sold really well for years.
It is very important to carefully place the hand sanitizer station. The most common placement is near frequent touch points, but in a dog park this can be problematic.
As most of you know, the most frequented touch point in a dog park is the gate system. It is recommended that these stations therefore be placed outside of the dog park and away from the gate so that they do not cause a disruption in the flow of the park. If not placed appropriately it can cause clustering; with our furry friends by our sides this can also lead to aggressive behavior toward other dogs, which should always be avoided.
Another note is to make sure to include signage stating that it is not for dog use, as it can cause dryness and cracking of paws and is not recommended.
Encourage Users to Pace Their Visits
In general, the peak hours for a dog park are before or after work hours. Yet in today’s world a lot of people are working from home and have more flexible schedules. This is where the power of suggestion comes in handy! Encourage your users to come at off-peak hours. A great way to do this is through social media, e-mail blasts or signage.
A big deterrent for coming mid-day is the heat, especially in the summer. If you already have shade structures or shade trees, remind your users of this fact. If not, now would be a great time to invest in a shade structure or even just a small pop-up structure. Another way to make users more comfortable in the heat of the day is to make sure there is access to fresh water for both humans and pups.
Re-opening dog parks is very exciting, and with just a few minor tweaks you can make sure this is a happy and healthy experience for all.
Forbes, Harrison. Dog Park Etiquette: Best Practices for Re-Opening Dog Parks. 2020.
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