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New Approach to Off-Leash Park Design

By Alistair Gray

There’s nothing better than seeing your dog happy and contented — the smile on the dog's face, the glistening eyes and that outpouring of endless love and loyalty. If you’ve ever been a dog owner, you’ll know that feeling.

The great news is that Moreton Bay Regional Council has recognised the need for infrastructure to support how our canine friends live and grow, with a fresh, modern approach to the design of Dog Off-Leash areas across the Moreton Bay catchment. With new Planning and Design Guidelines and Dog Agility Guidelines, this means dogs will have better places to play while ensuring the safety and comfort of other park users. In addition, there will be guidelines to provide better shade, water and fencing while considering the local environment, geography, access, and closeness to residents and businesses. The goal is to provide a happier, healthy environment in the fast-growing Moreton Bay Region.

With advice and support from the RSPCA and Dogs Queensland, Council was able to ensure guidelines were practical and met the needs of everyone, including the dogs, their owners and local residents.

All newly-introduced Off-Leash areas will incorporate the new guidelines as they are constructed, with existing areas progressively upgraded to the new standards.

Of particular interest will be the Dog Agility guidelines. Dog Agility courses (ramps, bridges, hoops and tunnels) are a great way to build owners’ dog handling and training skills while strengthening the bonds between owner and dog. Additionally, this skill development leads to better control of those dogs who undergo Agility training. Dog breeds particularly suited to Agility training include – Border Collies, Jack Russell Terriers, Kelpies, Standard Poodles, Papillon, and German Shepherds, to name a few. It will be interesting to watch what is put in place by Council once they implement the new guidelines.

You only have to visit Dog Off-Leash areas, like the Bellara Dog Park on the Sylvan Beach Esplanade on Bribie, to see a well fenced, well shaded, well-watered facility, yet from a dog's point of view; it is a pretty dull place. Besides socialising with other dogs, which is a crucial development activity, there is nothing there to stimulate them. There is no activity for them or agility training where the owner and their charge can play and work out. The addition of an Agility course would be a great addition to the park and other parks in the region.

These Dog Park design changes are welcome although Council still requires dogs in such designated areas to be closely controlled, in the main by the owner's voice commands, and for dogs to be on a lead when travelling to and from the parks.

The new guidelines will not apply to beach areas administered under Queensland Government guidelines.

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