The Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) Board on July 28 endorsed a Dog Park Study Report that will serve as a guiding document for the agency’s dog-park planning, design, operations and maintenance, volunteering, partnerships and rules/enforcement.
The comprehensive study, begun in 2019, was conducted by a cross-divisional Park Authority team consisting of subject-matter experts from across the agency.
The study relied on results from a public countywide survey asking park visitors to provide input and ideas about dog parks, as well as identification of best practices, extensive research, data and policy analysis, and industry literature.
Public input received throughout the study, coupled with research and analysis over a two-year period, informed the findings and recommendations in the final report.
The study found that:
• Public-survey respondents desired that dog parks include room for dogs to run, trash receptacles, shade, water and parking.
• Respondents’ top concerns included poor surface conditions, inattentive visitors and lack of water access.
The study recommended that the Park Authority build at least one new dog park, selected from the list of master-planned, but unbuilt, dog parks.
The study also included newly developed dog-park-design guidelines and siting criteria and recommended their use in the planning and construction of future dog parks.
In addition, the report encouraged dog-park volunteer teams. More than 700 survey participants expressed an interest in learning about volunteer opportunities at FCPA dog parks.
The study did not recommend changes to existing rules and hours at dog parks, but concluded there was a need for additional enforcement, which could be supported by volunteer presence and efforts.
The Dog Park Study Report also identified several implementation strategies and provided access to guidelines, checklists and forms to aid in the development of future FCPA dog parks and support operations of existing dog parks.
The final version of the report, along with other supporting information, will be posted in September on the study’s Webpage at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/planning-development/dog-park-study.