Community

Parklife

Research into dog parks reveals that seeing your little friend getting their daily exercise is only half of the story.

READ MORE
CLOSE

Parklife

Sabrina Märky is a self described ‘dog enthusiast’. Her passion for the four legged kind was spurred on by living next to one of New York City’s dog parks. Märky would visit the dog park each day, purely with an interest in the dogs, when one day she decided to look beyond our furry friends and see why the park was so popular.

Dog parks in America first evolved in California around the late seventies. Before this, the idea of an ‘enclosed area devoted exclusively to canine activity’ was a foreign concept. Dog parks can now be found in every state but Alaska. In NYC, the dog park is an integral part of the daily routine for the majority of dogs who do not have the luxury of a backyard to roam about in.

Initial research by Märky into dog parks found that seeing your little friend getting their daily exercise was really only half of the story, that in fact the dog parks popularity was equally about social interactions for people, as well as dogs. She then went on to formalise her research into the project Human Socialisation in Dog Parks.

Märky found that social interaction was difficult to start with people in NYC, except if you were at a bar ‘which doesn’t typically result in a lasting relationship’. She found that “the dog parks facilitate the perfect place to get to know people in a fun environment”. These community interactions are sometimes difficult, though it doesn’t seem isolated to NYC. Speaking with Emily, a frequent Canberra dog park user, she mentions that, “it’s one of the few opportunities for ‘community’ style interaction you get these days unless you’re a member of a church, sporting team or something related to babies/children”.

Back in NYC it seems that social interaction is not just limited to dog owners at the dog parks. Märky says that “crowds of people come to the Halloween parade just to see the dogs, which makes for such approachable conversations such as ‘your dog is so cute’… [the dogs] make conversations with strangers much more approachable.” Although Märky says “it’s hard to say how many of the relationships go beyond the dog park” she’ll always say hello if she meets someone again outside of the park.

Märky’s enthusiasm for her study translated into a long-term relationship. Six months after completing her study she got herself a miniature Australian shepherd. ‘Waldo Emerson’ now allows her to visit the dog park as often as she likes.


Download a PDF of the complete research here

Tags , , , , , , ,

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

CLOSE
Art&Culture
F&S_DoggieWoggiez_01

Holy Hounds

Irreverent U.S. video collective Everything Is Terrible! reboots Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain into a hysterical film made entirely of random dog-related footage.

READ MORE
Art&Culture
Four&Sons_Showdogs_Feature

Under the cover of darkness

Death and wilderness play a key role in Lorna Evan’s haunting photography.

READ MORE
FourAndSons_SpikeVisser_Feature

Best of breeds

Sipke Visser’s new book lifts the lid on the fascinating world of dog shows.

READ MORE
Recommended
Community
F&S_Huisdieren_04

Death is not the end

A vivid collection of portraits by Netherlands-based photographer Heidi de Gier and journalist Babette Rijkhoff delves into the lives of people who can’t bear to farewell their companions.

READ MORE
Recommended
Recommended
Recommended
Recommended
Recommended
Art&Culture
F&S_HeidiLender_F_01

Stand by me

Writer turned photographer Heidi Lender on daydreaming and how her Shih Tzu Bichon became her muse.

READ MORE
Art&Culture
F&S_JensKlein_Feature_01

Under surveillance

As well as inspiring fear and paranoia during its reign, more recently, the German Stasi has inspired art. Dog-based art.

READ MORE