America's Best Bark Parks
By Scott Broecker
Images Courtesy of Beneful
These days great dog parks have more and more to offer, including separate areas for large and small dogs, dog runs, tunnels, real and artificial turf, and agility equipment.
But there is one feature that blows all of the others out of the water. Did I say water? Water as in splash pads, bone-shaped lakes and pools, spray rings, and spouting hydrants. Most dogs love water, some can learn to love it, and others only tolerate or despise it.
For the canines who can learn to enjoy water, there is no better way for them to cool off and have fun, especially in parts of the country that experience 90-plus temperatures during the hottest months of the year.
Locally, we are fortunate to have the beach and a number of other natural water-play options, but with many of the beaches not allowing off-leash play, it’s great to see dog parks with water play being built around the country. Maybe there will soon be a renovated park near you.
If you had $500,000 to create a dream dog park, what would you do?
Since 2010, Beneful has been holding an annual Dream Dog Park Contest. Entrants write a short essay describing their dream dog park. Select entrants are then asked to submit a video showing their current dog park and town, as well as their vision for their dream dog park.
Beneful has created four beautiful dream dog parks. Each with a price tag of $500,000. The first dog park was unveiled in John’s Creek, Georgia. It has a dog-bone and dog-paw theme. Next was Alabaster, Alabama with a fetch-football field and agility theme. Then in 2013 they unveiled the amusement-park themed Lancaster, Pennsylvania location. And opening soon in Prescott, Arizona will be a firefighter-themed dog park commemorating 14 local firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty. This park will feature Dalmatian statues at the entrance, sirens, hydrants, water hoses with multiple spouts, a swimming pool, grassy areas, and plenty of shade.
Top-12 Dog Parks in the United States
1. CONGRESSMAN BILL ARCHER PARK—HOUSTON, TEXAS
Wag-worthy features: 17-acre park, bone-shaped ponds, and agility equipment. This is the perfect play space for adventurous hounds and curious canines. There is plenty of land to be explored!
2. BENEFUL DREAM DOG PARK—ALABASTER, ALABAMA
Splash pads, a miniature football field, a walking course, off-leash play areas for a variety of sizes, synthetic turf, rubberized mulch path, shady areas, and senior dog hill for lounging and chilling.
3. BOW WOW BEACH—STOW, OHIO
This 7.5-acre, fenced-in dog park is located at Silver Springs Park.
The dog park features grassy knolls and a sandy beach that surrounds a three-acre lake, dog-washing stations and a dock-jumping area.
4. MILLIE BUSH DOG PARK—HOUSTON, TEXAS
"Paradise" is what visitors tend to say after visiting this park. With 13 acres, the Millie Bush Dog Park takes fun to the next Fido level. It features three ponds for splashy Spaniels (two for big dogs, one for guppy puppies,) and washing stations for after-fun cleanup.
Fun Fact: The park was named after the former president’s English Springer Spaniel, Millie Bush.
5. NEWTOWN DREAM DOG PARK—JOHNS CREEK, GEORGIA
Featuring one fenced acre, separate areas for small and large dogs, artificial turf, sprinklers around a spraying hydrant, bridge, hoops, tunnels, walking trails, benches, shelters, and shade trees.
6. NASSAU HUMANE SOCIETY DOG PARK—AMELIA ISLAND, FLORIDA
This is a large dog park with a bone-shaped swimming pool, four bathing stations, a small-dog play area with waterfall pool, a training area, and an on-site adoption center.
7. COSMO DOG PARK—GILBERT, ARIZONA
Cosmo was the town’s first K9 police dog. He was a local hero and this 17-acre dog park is a tribute to him. It is one of the few parks in the country that touts a dog beach with a dock for dogs to leap off of into the water.
8. WAGSPARK—NEWTOWN, OHIO
WagsPark includes Lake Wags, a spring-fed swimming lake with clean gravel banks and a dock-diving board, a dancing water fountain, a doggie play set with ramps, decks, and bridges, an agility course, and a dog wash.
9. BEAU’S DREAM DOG PARK—LANCASTER, PENNSYLVANIA
Angela Bauman envisioned this amusement-themed dog park and named it after her dog, Beau. The dog park was renovated when she won the Beneful Dream Dog Park Contest in 2012. Features include a 40-foot-long roller coaster bridge, custom-designed splash pads for large and small dogs that feature fun spray nozzles, an expansive deck for relaxing, and a tennis-ball tree.
10. DOG WOOD PARK—JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA
This 42-acre park allows people and pets to swim and play in the two-acre swimming lake. It also features ten acres of hiking trails, an agility course, and dog bathing in raised warm-water tubs.
11. COUNTRY KENNELS DAWG WATER PARK—MURRIETA, CALIFORNIA
Country Kennels is a boarding facility that offers a large outdoor play area and built-in swimming area. When you go on vacation, your dogs can go on their own vacation.
12. JAMES HUNTER DOG PARK—ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA
James Hunter Dog Park has a plaza terrace, open lawn, demonstration gardens, canine romping area, and a waterfall pool for the dogs.
AND COMING SOON—THE PRESCOTT, ARIZONA DREAM DOG PARK opens in August 2014. It has a commemorative firefighter theme with a fire truck play area with sprinkler fire hydrants, green lawns, a swimming area, and plenty of shade areas.