According to Estately, San Diego is officially the second most dog-friendly city in the country, and for good reason: the city is awash with dog-friendly amenities, from restaurants with outdoor courtyards and doggie bowls to the city’s annual surf dog competition. At this point, dog-friendly housing in San Diego is standard, and because of that, multifamily property owners are having to look for new ways to give their buildings a competitive edge.
One way that they’re doing this is by adding on-site dog parks to existing buildings. They’re low maintenance enough that they don’t require much additional cost for upkeep, but they still add huge value to your property. Having a dedicated dog park space also makes it easier to keep other areas clean and pet-waste-free, and in that sense, dog parks are a boon even to tenants who don’t have furry friends.
The ideal space for a dog park is somewhere near the periphery of the property, where the park can be out of the way to people who don’t own dogs, but still accessible to those who do. If you’re pressed for space, you might consider is demolishing extra parking spaces near the edge of the property, and using that space for the new park. Once you’ve done that, all you have to do is build it!
What to Include in Your Dog Park Plans
When you’re designing your dog park, there are a variety of different amenities you can include, but the best of them will be both functional and playful. Aesthetically speaking, the park should be targeted towards prospective tenants as much as it is towards the dogs, because it’s the tenants who’ll be touring the property (and paying the rent). As you’re thinking about your design, here are some features we suggest including in your plans.
- A leashing and unleashing area gives dog owners a dedicated space where they can safely get their dog ready to enter and exit the park. Because a dog might try to protect its owner upon arrival, having a corral where they can be leashed and unleashed away from inquiring loose dogs helps prevent leash aggression and other confrontation. Dog parks also can be hyper-stimulating for dogs, so having space for leashing and unleashing makes for an easier transition into the park—especially for owners of excitable pooches.
- Watering stations are an easy way to tell tenants (and potential tenants) that you care about their furry friends, especially in a place like sunny San Diego. Here, a faucet and a bowl aren’t going to cut it—you’ll need a custom-built doggie hydration system that fills easily and then drains by itself. These can run between $1600 and $3000, but they’re worth it— and even give your dog park a touch of luxury.
- Artificial turf surface with a gravel base is the best way to go when you’re surfacing a dog park. Natural turf is a decent alternative, but it can be messy, and if you’re building from the ground up it’s best to start right away with artificial. The turf is placed over a gravel base that has enzymes in it that are activated by watering it down. Once activated, the enzymes neutralize the “doggy-potty” smell that most dog parks come equipped with. To make it easier on your maintenance staff, you can even put in a sprinkler system—just make sure you set it to go off every three to four days.
- Potty stations. The more, the merrier! This makes it really easy for tenants to clean up after their dogs, and that will make it easier on your maintenance staff, too. You’ll want a potty station every 100 feet along the perimeter of the fence, and you’ll need to make sure that each station has an ample stock of doggie bags and a trash can where owners can deposit the used ones. You’ll also want a large trash can in the leashing area so that owners have a place to toss doggie bags or other garbage on their way out. Pro tip: make sure these trash cans (and the park itself) are cleaned frequently. There’s nothing worse than a dog park that’s too dirty to use.
- Benches for people. This is one feature that’s often overlooked by DIYers designing a dog park on their own, but it’s a necessity. Having benches turns a visit to the dog park into a social experience, and that helps create a sense of community among dog owners and in the complex as a whole. Setting them into the concrete perimeter of your park can help meet practical and aesthetic needs by rounding out the space and giving it a finished feel.
- Bulletin board. This is a nice, added-bonus feature that can help increase the sense of community among dog owners in your building. Here, dog owners can post notices if their pet goes missing, they have some doggie gear for sale, or they need a sitter for the weekend.
- Play structures for dogs are important, too (it is a dog park, after all), and there are a number of ways you can integrate play structures into the overall design. You can go with some standard agility equipment, or you can get a little creative and add a faux fire hydrant that the dogs can run around.
- A dog-friendly fence. Think about using a vinyl chain-link that’s around 48 inches high. Any lower and it might allow dogs to jump over it, and if it’s higher, it might start to look like a prison. This fence should be set in a concrete perimeter to keep things secure and help keep the artificial turf maintained. Pro tip: Stay away from wrought-iron fences—they can make for stuck dog heads or little ones escaping.
Dog Park Design Aesthetic: Bright Colors, Fun Features
Whatever features you choose, remember that aesthetic is everything. Overall, you want the space to look fun, so make sure it’s designed with a bright palette in mind—no monochromatic colors allowed (even if that is all the dogs can see). If you’re looking for a little help as you make your plans, we’re happy to bring our experience to the table—we’ve got a combined 120 years in this business, and as multifamily needs evolve, so does our expertise. If you think you might add to (or upgrade) your property to include a state-of-the-art dog park on site, connect with us today to learn about how REIG can help you get there.