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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, October 27, 2002

Play by the rules, have fun in the park

Hawaiian Humane Society

 •  Where to bark

Bark Park, 18th Avenue at Diamond Head Road, is open daily, sunrise to sunset.

McInerny Dog Park, 2700 Wai'alae Ave., is open noon to 8 p.m., Mondays to Fridays; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., weekends/holidays; and has a swimming pool for dogs.

Both parks have tables, benches and poop bags.

For a list of Honolulu parks where leashed dogs are allowed, call 946-218, ext. 223.

The dog families of O'ahu have been playing together in off-leash dog parks since Bark Park was opened on Oct. 17, 1998. Two years later, McInerny Dog Park opened at the Hawaiian Humane Society. And by end of year, the first new public off-leash dog parks will be in the works.

Dog parks welcome all well-behaved dogs and, by necessity, have rules. Some focus on health: Puppies must be vaccinated; all dogs should be healthy and parasite-free, and females in heat should stay home.

Bark Park on Diamond Head Road was the dream of Hawai'i businessman Clark Hatch, inspired by his beagle named Buster. Hatch shares these tips for enjoying time with your pet at the dog park:

  • Read the rules posted at park entrances. (They also are at www.barkpark-honolulu.org and www.hawaiianhumane.org/programs/dogparks.).
  • Make your first visit to the dog park during a quieter, less-busy time of day. Even regulars sometimes arrive to find the park packed with dogs, and if they don't feel comfortable joining them, will come back another day.
  • Keep your dog on a leash until you are safely inside the park and the gate is closed. When your dog is comfortable with its playmates in the park, remove the leash.
  • Remember that this is your dog's playtime, not yours, so don't start chatting and ignore your pooch. Be especially attentive early on when your dog is meeting, greeting, sniffing and eliminating (and you'll be there to pick it up!). Always keep your dog in sight.
  • Know your own dog's emotions: if he is feeling anxious or threatened, carefully step between your dog and another, speak gently and let it know you're there for him. If your dog shows any aggression toward people or other dogs, leash it immediately, leave the park and try again another day.
  • Dogs should have up-to-date vaccinations and be treated with a quality flea and tick repellent.
  • Leave the treats at home, especially rawhide, pig ears or savory human food, because pets may squabble over them.
  • If you have more than two canine companions, bring along another human friend, too.
  • Small dogs that may feel intimidated by bigger dogs may be happier playing in the fenced-off area in the far corner within the Bark Park.
  • Babies, toddlers and small children should not come to the park unless there is another adult to care for them. Your attention should be entirely on your dog.

Studies have shown that dogs accustomed to being with other dogs and people, and allowed time to run free, are more friendly and less likely to be problem barkers. Fenced dog parks provide a safe and enjoyable space for dogs and their humans, so plan on some playtime for your dog in one of O'ahu's facilities.