10 Ways to Turn Your Local Dog Park Into a Dream Retreat

Arden Moore
Pat McNeely and his dog, Koda, won the first $500,000 Beneful Dream Dog Park contest in 2010 for their Newtown Dog Park in Georgia.

Is your dog park in need of a serious face-lift?

As a consultant for the annual $500,000 Beneful Dream Dog Park contest, I’ve spent the past two years collaborating with Jason Cameron, host of the DIY network’s Desperate Landscapes show, to identify ways to upgrade these doggie hangouts with clever elements that appeal to dogs — and people.

The newest member of our team is actor Eric Stonestreet of ABC’s Modern Family.

Today, Stonestreet — who has a senior dog named Coleman Hawkins — will help us unveil the newly transformed 2011 contest winner: Veterans Park in Alabaster, Ala.

Here's a look at 10 ways you can elevate your own dog park to dream status:

Make a Safe Splash

Install splash pads with spray nozzles and colorful hoops to keep dogs cool in the dog days of summer. Both of our dream parks use energy-saving, recirculating spray systems.

Pave a Cushy Path

Add visual excitement to a mundane dog park by creating a winding path for dogs made of soft, rubberized mulch, and spice up the scenery with faux boulders to sit on or climb.

Tap Into Your Pup's Inner Athlete

Install intersecting tunnels, weave poles and hoops for a playful workout.

Create a Fetch Zone

This area will allow people to safely hurl balls for retrieval-minded dogs without disturbing other pups (or people!) in the park. You can also outfit the zone with a tennis ball dispenser that's loaded with dog-safe balls.

Provide Plenty of Shade

Design a clubhouse or another shade structure where people and their pets can retreat from the heat. This is also a great place to hang a community bulletin board for posting meet-ups, dog walking services and other local events.

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