Ask the Experts: Dog Parks Woes


For more than 20 years, Bark’s Claudia Kawczynska has been a treat in the world of dog parks, also known as off-leash areas or OLAs – not just the fun stuff, but the messy and controversial issues that sometimes crop up around them around. In fact, it was her Berkeley-based OLA activism that spurred the creation of this magazine. Of course, she’s always interested in hearing how OLAs work (or not) in communities across the country. Recently a reader wrote to his local OLA for advice on a problematic topic and Claudia replied. We’d love to hear your ideas too. Send them to

By Tom McWhorter, Yuba City, California. I have two great Black Lab / mixed breed dogs and am also a volunteer serving as the chairman of the board for Off the Leash Dog Park, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) non-profit that has been in existence for over 10 years in front. Our OLA offers four-legged, furry family members 3.5 hectares to move freely with their people.

Because these are people, there are problems with interactions. For example, one of our rules is that aggressive dogs are removed from the park by the owner. What do you do if a dog is a repeat offender and the owner neither brings up the problem nor follows the rule? Good dogs and their owners avoid the park because of these repetitive episodes, and I can’t be there all hours. The previous board had no guidelines on how to deal with this stuff and I’m tired of feeling ineffective. How do other parks deal with these situations legally or otherwise?

Claudia answers – Thank you for writing to us with your dilemma, although I am sorry that you have this very human problem. Your board of directors should definitely have a policy on this as there is only so much that can be done in terms of self-regulation.

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