I was in St. Louis recently, shooting some pet owner education videos with the folks at Purina as part of my ongoing partnership with them. We were chatting about some of the experiences that have led me to value the human-animal bond so profoundly, and I got around to telling them about the dog park my family donated to help build in Twin Falls, Idaho.
Do you ever have those moments when everyone in the conversation just lights up? That’s what happened when the words “dog park” left my lips. It seems Purina, through its Beneful brand, has been supporting dog park construction and renovation all over the U.S. as part of their Dream Dog Park project for the past six years. They’ve helped create or renovate parks in more than 20 communities so far. (Beating Teresa and me by 19+ – we have some catching up to do, clearly!)
For several years, Beneful built new dog parks from the ground-up, some pretty magnificent ones, in fact. And more recently, they have been providing volunteer and financial support to help improve existing dog parks in need of TLC. Their passion for dog loving communities was palpable.
I understand that dog parks aren’t right for every dog depending on age, temperament, and socialization, among other factors. But for many dogs (and owners), once acclimated, they offer a uniquely welcoming place to exercise and bond outside of the home environment.
In our busy, often over-scheduled, and ‘always on’ lives, many dogs suffer from boredom and lack of exercise (and obesity!) that can be a result of distracted owners who mean well but have a hard time truly unplugging and spending quality time with their pets. And quite honestly, by nature, dogs love to run, play, and just be dogs, off-leash and with others of their kind. This fills a powerful psychological need in this highly social species – a need that’s often not met. But dog parks can help fill that social, physical, and psychological gap by letting dogs simply be themselves. It’s something that we can all appreciate!
So I want to take a moment to thank Beneful for their ongoing commitment and support of dog parks, and also for providing many useful resources for keeping things safe whether you’re hoping to bring a dog park to your community or simply want to be a responsible pet owner when you take your pooch to your neighborhood bark park!
I’m sharing their resources, written by my friend and colleague Arden Moore, as well as some from my daughter, trainer Mikkel Becker, so you can decide whether dog parks are right for your dog and your community, and keep things safe and fun if they are:
Dog Park Etiquette
Dog Parks: Are They For Everyone?
Dog Park Dos and Don’ts
Teaching Your Dog to Enter a Dog Park Calmly
Dog Park Safety and First Aid Tips
Small Dog Safety at the Dog Park
Note: I am currently working with Purina on a number of commercial projects, for which I am receiving compensation.