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The Anatomy of a Great Dog Park

Let one of America’s foremost designers of hound spaces lay out what works (and doesn’t).
relates to The Anatomy of a Great Dog Park
Guadalupe Pardo/Reuters

Dog parks where pups scamper off-leash have long been the fastest-growing segment of urban parks in the U.S., surging in number by 89 percent since 2007. As cities continue to stake out four-legged-friendly zones, how can we make sure hounds are getting the best experiences and not, say, surviving chaotic mosh pits of mud and snapping teeth?

Leslie Lowe is a landscape architect who helped design the Hugh Rogers Wag Park in Whitefish, Montana, dubbed one of the country’s 10 best dog parks in 2015 by USA Today. Her park includes a wealth of dog-pleasing features, including climbing rocks, tunnels, asphalt trails, a pond for splashing, shade trees, and an agility course. She’s now plotting out another in Fernie, British Columbia, and writing a book about dog-park design. Lowe, who has spent decades working with hunting dogs, believes that a good dog park replicates the experience of frolicking in the wide-open, ever-stimulating wild, making dogs feel at ease by placing them in a setting that feels naturally familiar.