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Private Dog Parks Offer Safety and Fun for Dogs and Owners

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Like visiting public dog parks but tired of dealing with aggressive dogs? Consider joining a private dog park for a safe, fun alternative – and a fee.

For many dog owners, public dog parks are great places to exercise and socialize their furry friends. But not everyone favors dog parks. In fact, some dog owners avoid them altogether, for reasons ranging from lack of interest to a fear of encountering aggressive dogs. However, now there’s a new type of dog park emerging – the private dog park – and it just may get even the most anti-dog park people to change their minds about these recreational venues for dogs.

Private vs. Public Dog Parks

Dog Park in AtlantaSo how are private dog parks different from public dog parks? For one thing, private dog parks aren’t free. Membership rates vary from park to park, but most private dog parks offer daily monthly or yearly rates. For the fee, members can expect everything from dogs prescreened for temperament and vaccinations to staff-enforced rules to plenty of fenced-in space for exciting, off-leash activities – “extra steps [that] are rarely if ever, taken” at public dog parks.

In short, private dog parks offer a safer alternative to public dog parks, along with more acreage and amenities. Many private parks have lakes for swimming and water activities as well as playgrounds for dogs, agility and other training courses, trails, areas to relax, even shops for treats. The grounds are also well kept and supervised. But every park is different and, often depending on its membership fees, can range from simple to extravagant.

High End Dog Parks

Cincinnati’s WagsPark, for example, is one of the country’s high-end private dog parks. For an annual membership fee of $325 or a $15-day visit, dogs and their owners can enjoy three acres of fenced ground, including a lake with dock diving, agility and speed courses, and a large playground for dogs. But safety and comfort are also a perk at WagsPark, where all dogs must pass a professionally-administered temperament test before joining.

California dog beachIf your dog likes to swim and lives in southwestern Michigan, there’s Meadow Run in Kalamazoo. Located on 25 acres, Meadow Run includes 12,000 square feet of swimming area with a beach for dogs. And if that’s not enough, there are plenty of extras for the active dog – agility equipment, dock diving, balls, and more. Membership runs a little higher, at $365 per year for one dog, plus a $35 administration fee. Not every breed is allowed at Meadow Run, though. Exclusions include the American bulldog and pit bull terrier.

Budget Dog Parks

For a little less money, the multi-acre Dog Wood Parks in Gainesville and Jacksonville, Florida, deliver fun in the form of amenities galore, such as swimming ponds, benches, picnic tables, walking trails, agility equipment, sand piles for digging, Frisbees, and balls. Annual fees are around $280, but monthly rates are also available. To help alleviate aggressiveness at the parks, male dogs over seven months old must be neutered.

Looking for something less spendy? Private dog park seekers can find smaller, simpler parks around the country, too, for minimal fees. Beverly’s Bark Park in Fishers, Indiana, is one example. This private dog park offers four acres of well-maintained, fenced-in space for dogs and their owners to run, play, and exercise. Amenities include water and waste cleanup stations, Frisbees, tennis balls, a separate area for small dogs, benches, shade, and enforced behavior rules – all for $140 per year.

Where to Find a Private Dog Park

Not sure whether your city has a private dog park? The best way to find out is to contact local parks and recreation departments and veterinary offices. Or an online dog park directory for information. If no private dog park can be found nearby, be patient. Private dog parks are growing in number, and one may soon come to your area.

Although private dog parks can be costly, they’re worth it for many dog owners. Private dog parks offer safety and off-leash fun for dogs and their human companions in a clean, healthy environment. It’s no wonder they’ve become sought after by more and more dog owners – even those formerly opposed to dog parks.