Below is a list of the FAQs which we have received and answered. If you have a question which you feel should be on this list, please submit it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Why are the FAQs so bare right now?
A: We are still gathering data and opinions and formulating plans for the dog park. The basic question (where) is addressed in the current FAQ. Other questions (and answers) will be added as they are presented. The Dogs FAQ will be updated as time allows.
CHELMSFORD DOG PARK PROJECT
The Chelmsford Dog Association in conjunction with many residents and Town officials has been working together to establish an off-leash dog park for its residents and there four legged companions since 2009. This project has a multitude of benefits for the community and its over 3300 canine residents. This plan will explain the project and its significant benefit to the community. The park is 2.06 to 2.5 acres of the 12.0 acre site of the old Chelmsford highway Department garage.
The dog park would run north from what is now the Highway Departments main gate to the end of the property line at which time it would follow the property line east for approximately 335 feet then it would turn and take a southerly route for approximately 235 feet and then go westerly for approximately 260 feet (see site map). The dog park would be 2.0 to 2.5 acres of the nearly 12.0 acres of the highway department’s property. Our dog park would still allow plenty of area for some of the proposed uses of the area outside the fenced in dog park.
Our design will be ADA friendly (handicap accessible) as well as green-friendly which will include rain gardens and swales and possibly rain water collection for use in park features.
Dog Park Area
- There will be two (2) dog areas; one for large dogs and one for small dogs.
- Both dog areas will be portioned of by chain link fence and will use a double gate entry.
- We will retain the natural wind screen of trees along the westerly edge of the dog park
- The Parking lot, entrances, and dog park courtyard will be ADA compliant.
- The Chelmsford Dog Park Project will use green and sustainable practices wherever physically possible and financially feasible.
- The Chelmsford Dog Park will use natural management of rain water through swales, rain gardens and possible rainwater collection.
- 5’ tall galvanized chain link fence with 2” square diamond.
- Fence post should be galvanized or flow coated
- Fence should have at least a 15 year warranty
- Line post should be 1.875” and terminal posts should be 2.375”.
- Park Name
- Rules and Regulations
- Town of Chelmsford Ordinances
- Emergency contact information
- Bulletin board
- Double gate entry to main park
- Solid surface (concrete, asphalt, brick).
- Park Name
- Rain Garden composed of native plants
- Future site of “Wall of Names”.
Hard and Soft Scapes
- Grass covering at least 50% of the park.
- Permeable “hard” surface covering about 15% of park.
- Hard permeable surfaces should be comfortable and safe for both humans and dogs.
- All surfaces and materials should promote rain water absorption, not rain water run- off.
- Additional surfaces to be added after the fact when funds are available.
- Feces disposal centrally located in each partitioned area, as well as at the main entrance to each partitioned area.
- Location will provide tools and or bags for pick up (including reuse of donated plastic grocery bags in addition to bags supplied).
- If possible the waste disposal will be located in a shaded area.
Trash and Recycling
- Trash and recycling cans will be located throughout the park. There will be four trash and recycling cans in the large dog area and two in the small dog area. We will also explore the solar compactors used elsewhere in the town as finances become available.
- Benches and picnic tables placed throughout the park on permeable hard scape.
- Mock fire hydrants placed in strategic areas to control contamination.
- Gazebo for shelter and relaxation (when funds are sufficient).
- Kiosk at courtyard for shelter, bulletin board, and gathering.
- Natural structures such as logs, boulders, and trees as well as large tires, culverts, etc. for the enjoyment of the dogs.
- In the future a water feature (wading pool) and other items will be added.
Dog Park Etiquette
Dog parks can provide exercise and socialization for dogs, but they can also provide problems if dog owners are not paying attention. This is no different from a playground for children. A group of children playing can turn into shoving and crying if children aren’t taught how to behave and parents don’t watch for signs of trouble. And all parents need to clean up after their children to keep the playground safe.
We all want the dog park to be the fun time for our dogs. A little understanding of dog behavior and an alert eye is all it takes for good dog interaction. A little personal responsibility for the park is all it takes for the park to stay nice and clean.
The first step is to only bring dogs to the park that are relaxed around strange dogs. I have two wonderful dogs. One of them loves other dogs. The other has been bitten in the past and is nervous. He shows his nervousness by barking and growling. Some may say this is aggressive, but listening to his growl, you will hear a whine. That whine is the sign that he is scared and unsure of the other dog. I do not bring him to places where strange dogs play. He has a few dog friends that visit and I don’t push him to meet more.
My friendly dog can be overly friendly but I have taught her to approach other dogs slowly. She will roll over if the other dog shows any sign of concern. This is a good trait for a dog because rolling over is like saying “I am not a threat and just want to be friends.”
My neighbor has a dog that lunges and pulls on the leash when he sees other dogs, cars, bicycles, etc. This lunging is a sign of aggression. It could be from nervousness or a more malicious. Either way, like my nervous dog,he should not visit a dog park.
Here are some signals that your dog is being friendly:
- Approaches other dogs slowly
- Approaches from the side (even if headed toward another dog, the final few steps should involve moving toward the side of the dog and then turning toward them)
- Wagging tail
- Play bow
- Rolls over or allows other dogs to sniff
- Barking in a playful manner (you need to know your dog’s different barks)
- Not paying much attention at all (this doesn’t mean your dog isn’t interested, just that he is not concerned with the other dogs and therefore, he doesn’t need to focus on them)
Here are some signals that your dog is uncomfortable or not ready for a dog park:
- Growling or unfriendly barking
- Ears pinned back
- Ears very forward
- Tail up (if normally down)
- Tail tucked between legs (usually means he is scared)
- Sticking his head between your legs (He’s looking for you to protect him. Do so by leaving the park. He will love you for it.)
- Showing teeth
- Lunging or charging other dogs
- Bumping his shoulder into another dog
- Stealing toys
- Jumping on people
- Jumping on dogs’ backs
If you have a dog that may not be friendly enough for the park, you can help him improve. Try bringing him to training classes. Also, try bringing him to the park but do not enter it. Just let him sit in the car and watch the dogs. If he is calm, on the next visit, let him walk around the parking lot on leash. Do this and the training until your trainer says that the dog is ready for the dog park. (You want to get other people’s comments on the dog because we are all biased toward our wonderful animals and it is easy for us to miss something.) Then only let him in when there are just a few dogs. Even dogs that like other dogs can be overwhelmed in a crowd.
Here are the signs of a good owner and supporter of the park:
- Only brings dogs friendly to other dogs and people
- Always picks up after his dog
- Watches his dog and other dogs for possible problems
- Throws trash in receptacles
- Lets others know if their dog needs picking up after
- Never leaves the dog in the park without adult owner supervision
- Picks up any toys or Frisbees if any dog shows possessiveness (even just 1 dog)
- Removes dog immediately, at any sign of trouble
- Keeps the dog leashed except in the fenced area of the park
- Licenses the dog (just visit town hall for a form)
- Donates to and/or volunteers for the park
Working together, the Chelmsford Dog Park can be a great place for our friendly dogs to exercise. Dogs that struggle with social situations are always welcome to walk in our other public lands on leash and under their owner’s control.
By Beth Logan, CDA volunteer trainer