Q&A: Are Small Dogs Safe at Bow Wow Beach?

A Local Leash reader is concerned about taking his Dachshund to the dog park since his dog isn't a fan of large dogs.

I have never taken my Weiner Dog Linc to Bow Wow Beach because he hates big dogs. Is it true there is a section for just small dogs?
Bo from Stow

That is a great question, Bo! As much as we love to reward our dogs with fun adventure, the dog park can be a daunting experience. I cannot take my dog there, either because he is also not a fan of big dogs. He is 60 pounds and only likes small dogs and cats. He would love Linc, but if Linc is unable to return the love, you want to be able to keep him as secure as possible.

Luckily, does have options for small dogs. I'll explain it here, and then you can watch the video I've posted to see what I'm talking about.

When you drive into , where Bow Wow Beach is located, the dog park is to the right. However, signs are clearly posted and indicate that the small dog entrance is straight ahead of you, while the main entrance, or entrance for medium and large dogs, is to the right.

Both entrances offer access to the entire park and all the dogs. The only difference is the small dog entrance has immediate access to a completely fenced-off area solely for small dogs. In order for large dogs to enter that area, they would need to get through double gates.

My only word of caution is that not everyone seems to read the signs. While I was at the park, a woman named Marissa came through the small dog entrance with two small dogs and one big dog. When I spoke to her, she admitted that although she had been to the park before, she didn't realize the entrance was for small dogs only. I saw many other large dogs brought through that entrance, as well. However, those large dogs did not go into the secure, fenced-in area for small dogs.

The secure small dog area does not have access to the water for swimming. If you want your small dog to be able to swim, there is another partially fenced-in area that is unsecure. The fence stops at the water and big dogs can access the area that way. This area would be best for small dogs who don't mind big dogs, but who you want to keep a closer eye on.

Regarding your comment that Linc "hates" big dogs, I'm not sure if you mean that he is afraid of them or that larger dogs seem to set off a Napoleon complex in your little guy. Have you considered seeing an animal behaviorist?  The owner of in Stow, Nancy Binzel Pierce, is an ABC Certified Dog Trainer. How about socialization or training classes at ?

Bow Wow Beach is a wonderful park, but it depends on proper socialization and good pet owners who make sure their dogs are capable of being well behaved around all kinds of dogs and people. A certain amount of trust is involved in enjoying a day at the beach with your dog.

Laura Coon May 16, 2011 at 01:01 PM
What a great response!!
JBK May 16, 2011 at 02:09 PM
This park is really great for dogs. I have a very social Golden Retriever that loves all animals and people. We've been to the park once and I probably won't go back because there is no one there monitoring irresponsible pet owners. There are signs posted at the entrance and like the article mentions people don't read them. For example you have to be a certain height to be in the park, which is meant purely for safety for small kids, my dog and other dogs run around so excited to be playing they aren't always watching for little kids and and small dogs. I'd feel completely horrible if my dog was a part of or harmed a small dog or kid because people didn't bother reading the rules. That is exactly what happened when i was there, a couple brought in their 3 tiny dogs in the main entrance with their 5 year old, the little kid was just standing on the beach looking at all the dogs and he was knocked down by playing dogs. He didn't appear to be hurt but it was really scary. If there was a dog guard (like lifeguard?)or someone there monitoring the behaviors of people and dogs I'd be more than likely visit this park again.
Michelle F May 16, 2011 at 02:17 PM
I took my 2 dogs twice and was very nervous both times. There were dogs in there that I never did know who owned them. Its such a large area that if they start to run tons of dogs run as well after them and you have no way to catch up as its not a good idea for a human to run around. The concept is a nice one but I feel way too many dogs and not enough supervision. It only takes a second for something to go wrong. To me its was not worth the chance as dogs have lost their lives there.
Marty H. May 16, 2011 at 03:35 PM
I agree with Michelle. Whenever I've been there with one or both of my small dogs, I've been nervous about the large number of unsupervised dogs running around. We also had a problem with the small dog swim area. Maybe they've changed the configuration, but when I went there was nothing preventing the big dogs from swimming around the fence and entering the little do area. We even had one big, and fortunately friendly golden swim all the way across the lake to get into the small dog area.
Leigh Peterson May 16, 2011 at 05:05 PM
Yes Marty as I mention in the video, that area is unsecure and marked as such. Big dogs can get into the area which is why it's best for dogs who don't mind big dogs but whose owners want to keep a closer eye on them. JBK that's a great idea. I know that there are volunteer monitors and that the advertising dollars probably go to upkeep of the park. A regular schedule of volunteer monitors, like the Humane Society schedules for its volunteers, would help a lot.
Matt Fredmonsky May 16, 2011 at 06:39 PM
Great explanation piece Leigh. In the end, it's up to responsible owners to pay attention to their dogs. My brother takes his Dachsunds regularly to the small dog area without any problems. Vice-a-versa, we take our big dogs through the north entrance and are careful to keep them away from the small dog areas without problems. But I constantly see owners who don't pay attention to their dogs, don't walk around with them and generally don't keep them under control either through voice or physical commands. That's where it begins and ends — with the owners. Pay attention to your dogs people. The dog park is not a dog-sitting drop off area.
Kasha Legeza May 31, 2011 at 08:23 PM
After a recent trip to Bow Wow Beach, my husband and I decided that we're probably overly protective dog parents. Our goldens had a great time, but we were nervous wrecks! We'd love to let them play there again, but we're too fearful of "bad dogs" and their seemingly invisible owners to face going back. I second Matt's comments: Pay attention to your dogs, people. The dog park is not a dog-sitting drop off area!
jiim may August 14, 2012 at 02:23 AM
if you are afraid your dog and others will pick up on that. dogs only have two ways to play and thats with teeth and feet. i have a question for all you people that are afraid and thats, if your kid gets a broken nose because kids are playing, are you going to keep your precious wimpy chicl in the house or are you going to let him play again. i am a big time animal lover so dont say i dont care about pets. my dog had her ear torn and i went and cleaned it out and returned my other dog had to have a chest tube becauae she was bit ( at another park). my dogs love the park and we are there everyday. quit being weenies and let your dog have fun
Debbie S. August 14, 2012 at 04:54 AM
Torn ears and chest tubes sound great, jiim! I'm sure your dogs have LOVED being attacked by other animals to the point where your pups need medical attention. Good job on the name calling, too. Referring to other people "weenies" will surely shame them into bringing their dogs to the park straight-away. Your comments are so persuasive that there is really nothing more to say.
jiim may August 15, 2012 at 01:03 AM
debbie, i am not going to stop them from having hours and hours of funbecause of a problem. My animals are cared for much better than your children i bet!!!!! hopefully all the weenies will stay so the true animal lovers will be the only ones there. oh by the way i love all animals and would not punish the dog that tore my dogs ear. things happen. guess what there was a car accident last night so you and your children better stay away from driving!!!!!
jiim may August 17, 2012 at 01:49 AM
debbie, I am glad you havent been on the site, hopefully you are in the kitchen where women belong


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