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Tips for Success

The winner of the "Bark for Your Park" contest will win $100,000 to build a PetSafe dog park and four other communities will also receive a $25,000 prize. Finalist communities will be selected based on availability of land, civic leader support, and number of votes.

Anyone can visit the contest page at www.petsafe.net to nominate your city, share land availability, show civic leader support, vote, and/or update PetSafe about your town's progress. You may also vote for your favorite city onĀ PetSafe's Facebook page.

How to Win Bark for Your Park

Each community participating in Bark for Your Park wants to give its dogs a wide open space to run, explore and play. From building your team, finding a home for your park, gaining civic leaders’ support and encouraging community members to vote twice every day, the contest takes a lot of organization and enthusiasm.

We want each community to have the tools and ideas necessary to help win a dog park. Over the past two years of sponsoring the contest, we’ve seen our finalists generate more new and creative ways to spread the word and encourage friends, family and neighbors to bark for their parks! Communities should borrow as many of these tips as possible to help them become a 2015 finalist.

  • 1. Top Dog Game Plans:

    In 2011, Huntington won the first Bark for Your Park contest and Texarkana followed in their footsteps in 2012. The leaders of each community have shared their most successful ideas with us.

  • 2. Spread the Word:

    Tell everyone about the contest - friends, family, co-workers and neighbors as well as the civic groups, clubs, schools and religious institutions you may belong to. Use word-of-mouth, phone calls and e-mail. Ask them to visit the Bark for Your Park contestpage or PetSafe’s Facebook page to post their support.

  • 3. Like it, Post it, Share it:

    Use social media to get the word out quickly and to reach the maximum of people in a short period of time. Post information and links on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networking sites. Use site features like Facebook pages and groups to connect with other dog park supporters in your area.

  • 4. Personalize It:

    Start your own community-specific campaign. Develop a core team of volunteers to meet on a regular basis to stay on track and update the plan. Use our Templates and Downloads to promote your event and community efforts. Empower your volunteers, share progress and set attainable goals for vote totals throughout the contest.

  • 5. Plan a Party:

    Host an event at a pet-friendly spot to inform and excite pet owners in the community. Make flyers to hand out at events and for dog park supporters to share with others. Bring the voting, too! Set up iPad or laptop stations where individuals can set up their own account and start voting.

  • 6. Find the Pros:

    Partner with animal professionals in your community. Talk with veterinarians, obedience trainers, dog sitters, dog walkers, dog groomers, kennel operators, animal shelter directors and others about the contest. Ask them for their support and to help spread the word to their customers and associates.

  • 7. Make the Front Page:

    Talk with local media like your community’s newspaper, local magazine publications, television stations, radio stations or local bloggers to help get the word out in the community.

  • 8. Engage the Officials:

    Reach out to civic leaders to ask for their support and discuss availability of land and other resources. Attend public meetings, make phone calls and write letters. Government officials to contact might include your county commissioners, your city council representatives, your city or county mayor and the local Parks and Recreation department. You can also reach out to your state or national Congressional leaders.

Planning your dog park

After working with our hometown of Knoxville, TN to build six dog parks and helping the winning Bark for Your Park communities plan, build and open their parks, PetSafe is proud to support any community in its construction of a dog park. We have developed this list of considerations and tips to give the dogs in your community the park of their dreams.

Even if your community doesn’t win Bark for Your Park this year, by getting your community involved with the contest, you can help your community get excited and start considering and planning for a new dog park. Here are some tips and tools and help you along the way.

  • 1. Form your Pack:

    Dogs live in groups for survival and socialization. We can learn a lot from their teamwork to build a park.

    • Work with civic leaders, donors and volunteers in the community to win Bark for Your Park or raise the necessary funds to create the park.
    • Host several community forums to ensure you are securing plenty of feedback and community involvement/support for the project.
    • Partner with the local parks and recreation department. 

    These groups will have the know-how and resources to execute your plan, secure labor and materials at a discounted cost, look for possible grants to offset costs and offer ongoing maintenance assistance after the park opens.

  • 2. Dream Big:

    Start thinking about the details of your community’s dream dog park – location, ground surfacing, gate entrances, benches, shade, landscaping, water attractions, lighting, parking, dog waste stations, park rules, etc. We’ve developed parks as small as 1.4 acres to more than 20 acres. Regardless of size, we suggest consistent characteristics for each. For example, PetSafe strongly recommends creating separate areas for large dogs and small dogs. Each PetSafe dog park has:

    • A fenced area outlining the external boundaries with double-gated entrances
    • Shaded areas
    • Seating areas for pet parents to socialize
    • Hydration stations for pets and pet parents
    • Waste stations for supplies so pet parents can clean up after their pets
    • Covered trash receptacles
    • Lights
    • And standard rules

    We also have parks with swimming areas and walking trails. To save money, enlist the assistance of a local non-profit design group or collegiate architecture/design class to minimize site planning costs for the new dog park.

  • 3. Keep it Clean:

    Even before the park is open, start planning for year-round maintenance including garbage pickup, landscaping, restocking of dog waste stations and more. Consider creating a volunteer organization to help with park maintenance, fundraising and other needs so the park can be enjoyed for years to come. The biggest challenge for the park is that the high level of activity rapidly “wears out” the grass. Sometimes it is helpful to close parts of the park to allow the grass to recover. Communities can also consider alternative surfaces such as synthetic turf, which can get expensive, or crushed stone. With the stone, it has been our experience that dogs just want to play and the surface does not bother them. The appearance, however, is not as pleasing to their parents.

  • 4. Budgeting:

    Development costs differ depending on the size of the park, natural or artificial shade areas, utilities, parking area, availability of drinking water and more. PetSafe has been involved in parks with price tags from $25,000 to $150,000. It takes community enthusiasm, commitment from key supporters and working together with donors, volunteers and pet owners. You can help make your community’s dog park a reality.