There’s Bruin at the Chelmsford Dog Park. The park has a good-sized space to run, but not much more than that. Neither toys nor food are allowed, so unless a dog finds somebody to play with, there’s not much for him to do but sniff things and hang out with the dog owners. As far as rules go, I hope Acton’s park will not start off with a lot of restrictions. I’d rather give the benefit of the doubt to the dogs and their owners. If a problem becomes obvious, then there’ll be time to reconsider.
But that’s not why we’re here. Bruin up there in the picture is at the park and he’s bored. Nobody wants to play with him, and with all toys banned, there’s nothing for him to do. He and I walked around the accessible trail a few times, and once or twice he started off running with a bunch of other dogs, but it didn’t last.
People complain that dogs climb on the benches and the picnic tables, but with no other infrastructure in place, what do we expect them to do for fun?
So, what can a dog park do to keep dogs entertained? They could install all that expensive agility-type equipment in all the new dog park equipment catalogs, but why spend so much money? A sewer pipe makes a great tunnel. If you pile a lot of loam on top of it, then you have a tunnel and a hill. It’s best to level the top of the hill, and pack the loam pretty tight, you want room for more than one dog up there. That would take some engineering, maybe it would work better like a culvert, putting the tunnel in a naturally low part of the field, dog park fields are entirely too flat.
Logs and stone walls are great fun for dogs. Bruin loves to walk along one, and it is so good for his coordination and balance. He also loves to jump over the same things as he careens through the woods. Another advantage to bringing in natural elements is that with them will come natural creatures, like squirrels, chipmunks, and other stinky creatures that usually come out at night. Dogs love to chase squirrels and chipmunks, who can make themselves disappear pretty quickly under the logs or stones. They’ll give dogs something to sniff, if nothing else.
Of course a pond is the ultimate luxury at a dog park, but I’ll get to that later.
What else would you add to a dog park to keep the dogs stimulated?