The Truth About Parks and Dogs

May 1, 2015, Department, by Catrina Belt

Dog parks are popular draws for pet lovers — here, we highlight that impact with hard numbers.Dog parks, or off-leash dog areas, have quickly become a leading feature in communities and parks across the country. Although they have been around for almost three decades, dog parks are currently the fastest-growing segment of city parks. Dog parks vary in size and design, but all provide a fun activity space with numerous benefits for dogs, their owners and the communities in which they live. Dog parks are a great addition to any open public space, as they encourage socialization between neighbors and their cherished pets. Most importantly, they provide a place where dogs can exercise and play freely with other dogs. Below, find some interesting stats on dog owners and dog parks across the country.

$7.5 billion: Estimated worth of the dog industry.

83.3 million: Number of dogs owned as pets in the United States as of 2013.

56.7 million: Number of U.S. households with dogs as of 2013.

1979: The year Ohlone Dog Park, the world’s first official dog park, was created in Berkeley, California.

1,200: Estimated number of dog parks in operation in the United States.

569: Number of dog parks in the 100 largest cities in the United States as of 2010.

34: Percentage increase in dog parks in the 100 largest U.S. cities from 2005 to 2010.

33: Number of dog parks in Portland, Oregon — the U.S. city with the greatest number per capita, with 5.7 dog parks for every 100,000 residents.

150: Number of dog parks in Calgary, AB — the city with the greatest number per capita in North America, with 15.9 dog parks for every 100,000 residents.

107 acres: Size of the Elk Meadow Park Dog Off-Leash Area, one of the nation’s largest dog parks located in Evergreen, Colorado. This park features 3.2 miles of trails, including two fenced-in areas totaling 6 acres where dogs can socialize, and 2.5 miles of natural-surface trails for hikes.

Sources: 2014 City Park Facts Report, Ohlone Dog Park Association, Jefferson County Government, The City of Calgary, 2013-2014 National Pet Owners Survey, Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, Winter 2013, Dog Park dot com, Pet Safe, Wikipedia, Unleashed: Off-leash Dog Park Design Trends and Planning Tips

Catrina Belt is Parks & Recreation magazine's Editorial Intern.