Should developers include dog parks in residential estates?


In the early 90’s, South African homeowners were introduced to the idea of estate living. Since then, the country has seen an exodus from the traditional suburbs as families have flocked to one of the thousands of beautiful lifestyle estates catering to everything from polo and coastal living to wildlife and golf.

One of the significant drawbacks of estate living up until recent years has been the distinct embargo on pet ownership that many estates have implemented, but that is rapidly changing.

The multi-billion-rand business of pet ownership

According to Samuel Seef, Seef property group chairman, lifestyle estates remain the fastest growing property trend in the country. That’s all good and well, but another rapidly growing trend is pet ownership. Sales of pet care products in South Africa ballooned to over R7.1 billion in 2020 according to a Wisconsin Economic Development market report.

So, what does this all mean? If more of us are flocking to lifestyle estates and taking our four-legged friends with us, surely it calls for change to the rules?

Opening the doors to our furry friends

Fortuitously pet ownership rules across the board are evolving. Where once there was a blanket ban on many estates, there now exists a peaceful harmony of legal pet ownership, with a few reasonable terms and conditions thrown into the mix.

Some estates are even going one step further in understanding the desires of their homeowners by building dog parks. Dog parks are essentially designated open spaces where dogs are welcome to enjoy off-the-leash time and socialise with their fellow canine companions.

More than just a place to galivant

Every square meter counts in the world of estate development, so it is understandable that many developers have been asking themselves the question as to whether a dog park would be worth the investment and maintenance bill.

It is one thing to change the rule book to allow small breeds on leashes on your estate, but quite another to designate a specific space and then design, implement, and maintain a stand-alone area where unleashed creatures with minds of their own can run riot.

One only needs to look at the success of the dog park at Val de Vie, the renowned polo and lifestyle estate in the beautiful Paarl Valley. The social dynamic of the estate has been positively impacted by the introduction of a dog park. Homeowners and their pets often congregate, which is both a healthy lifestyle advantage and a big social drawcard.

It’s all in the research

MDPI, a Swiss-based academic journal publication website, published a peer-reviewed article on the benefits and controversies surrounding dog parks where it was unilaterally agreed that dog parks play a positive role in the overall lifestyle experience of a homeowner and their pets.

While much of the report centres around the positive health benefits of pet ownership, it also highlights the financial case for estates to invest in dog parks for their residents. In short, people are taking better care of their pets and are keeping them in mind when it comes to making pertinent homeowning decisions.

With so many excellent lifestyle estates to choose from, it is becoming more important to build amenities that answer the needs of the individual. In this case, it is one of the millions of South Africans who are factoring their pets into their lifestyle living choices.

Developing estates with homeowners and their pets in mind

If the data indicates that there are significant advantages to dog parks and the cost-benefit analysis demonstrates a positive financial impact, then we should expect to see more estates making provisions for safe, well-maintained dog parks that cater to the needs of both the homeowners and their pets.

Of course, this should come with strict rules and enforced vigilance to ensure that the area remains clean and well organised, but we have no doubt that with the relaxing of pet regulations, a few more dog parks will pop up in the not-so-distant future.


This article was written by the EstateMate in house media team. We are a tech passionate group of people driven by our love to revolutionize the Property Tech space.