River Bend Dog Park and Why Mr. N Hates Dog Parks for Small Dogs


We took Mr. N to the River Bend Dog Park in Bend on our last day there to let him run around before the car ride home. He was not impressed.

The park had a separate area for small dogs but there was no one else there. To go in there, the dogs have to be under 25 pounds and under 15 inches. They had a model dog to demonstrate. It’s hard to tell from the angle but Mr. N is almost as tall as the model. Would be weird banning him though.

There were a few dogs in the bigger area but I was nervous about letting him go in there especially as Mr. N was attacked by a Border Collie the day before.

The big dog area with access to the river

So he stayed in the small dog area and roamed around aimlessly for a few minutes then headed towards the gate to insist that he was bored and wanted to leave immediately. The park was quite nice for an urban dog park but there was nothing for him to do.

He has disliked every small dog-specific dog park we’ve gone to. I can’t really blame him. They’re usually much, much smaller. Like a half-acre for the small dogs vs ten acres for the bigger ones. Often all the amenities are in the big dog area (benches, water, equipment etc).

When it comes to off-leash areas, a designated space for small dogs to have a play and activity level that’s in their proportion rather than with big dogs can be a great option for small dog owners.

I appreciate that they build small dog areas because it can be unsafe for them to mingle with the bigger dogs. But just because they are small does not mean that their play and activity level are correspondingly small. Mr. N can hike for five hours and is still not tired after that. He has beaten Labs in a race for the ball (well the Labs wanted the ball, he just wanted to run). He has run with a field of Collies. 

A half-acre is nothing to him.

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32 Responses

  1. Emma

    April 10, 2015 11:11 am

    Around here only a few parks have small dog areas and they are always tiny and we rarely see a dog in them. We totally understand Mr. N's point of view. We love our big parks where we can actually go for walks, those are the most fun. I think Mr. N would be safe too as there is tons of space and the dogs are not on top of each other. Most mix small and large dogs too.

  2. SlimDoggy

    April 10, 2015 1:21 pm

    We don't go to dog parks much – the one closest to our house isn't even fenced so I don't even like letting them run free. Too bad Mr. N. had no playmates.

  3. Beth

    April 10, 2015 2:58 pm

    I'm sorry that dog parks don't show the little dogs the love, too! And I'm sorry he got attacked by a border collie–hope he's ok!

    • Beth

      April 11, 2015 3:28 am

      That's how it usually is when Barley gets into sticky situations. I have a meltdown and she and the other dog bounce back within seconds. I love that Mr. N won't hesitate to put a bigger dog in it's place!

  4. Groovy Goldendoodles

    April 10, 2015 3:08 pm

    Not fair! I like taking Harley to day camp because they group dogs by temperament and not by size. I know that's not applicable in dog parks, and for that reason I have a tendency to shy away from dog parks. So sorry Mr. N. – you're welcome to come to Doodleville and romp with us anytime your in the area!

  5. 2browndawgs

    April 10, 2015 4:13 pm

    The few dogs parks around here are like that one, (not that we go, but I have checked them out). Usually not much to do and no shade. I guess if you need a place to run a dog in an urban area they are a good thing but they are just do blah.

  6. Lauren Miller

    April 10, 2015 6:12 pm

    Yeah, it's too bad the small dog sections are so small. A lot of the times I will take the girls in the small dog area because they get along with the little ones much better. The only decent sized small dog park I've ever been in was one in Folsom, Ca.

  7. Janet Keefe

    April 10, 2015 8:45 pm

    Mr. N is really a big dog at heart! You are right, many small dogs are very active and they need just as much space to run and things to play with as the big dogs.
    I assume he is OK after the border collie attack? Poor little guy!
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

  8. Debbie Bailey

    April 12, 2017 6:17 am

    We’ve always experienced the same thing. Little dog areas are always just that, little.. and usually really boring. We started our pack with 2 large dogs, then got Ringo who’s in the upper 20s and now Roxie who is only 14 lbs. We don’t go to dog parks often anymore, mostly because of irresponsible owners and aggressive dogs, but when we do take them to dog bars or other free-run areas, Roxie prefers large dogs as playmates anyway, so I can imagine that she would HATE small dog parks. Sorry Mr. N was bored. 🙁

  9. Nichole

    April 12, 2017 8:30 am

    Our local dog park has a decent size side for small dogs with the fence going between the regular park. It’s not bad, but my experience with the small dog fosters we had was they wanted to mingle with the regular dogs anyway.

  10. Lorie Ham

    April 12, 2017 8:39 am

    I didn’t realize that there were separate parks for smaller dogs but it does make sense. Unfair though that they get a lot less space, my small guys love running far and fast just as much as any bigger dog.

  11. Felissa (Two Little Cavaliers)

    April 12, 2017 8:52 am

    Davinia and Indiana agree with Mr. N. They have only found one small dog park that offers them enough space to actually get to a run and the same amenities as the big dog area at that park. Ok so the amenities are a well for water and a tree to pee on but they can run around in there and enjoy the fresh air. We are lucky that it was close to our old house and we could visit once in a while.

    We used to always have to use the big dog areas at parks especially in Miami where the mall dog are was about the size of a postage stamp. The big dog area had a pond, trees, benches, and space to run and play. We only used it on the weekdays because you have to walk through the big dog park which was overly rowdy on the weekends to get to the small dog area. We hope you find a nice sized park more to your liking Mr. N!

  12. The Daily Pip

    April 12, 2017 4:33 pm

    I think Ruby is a bit bigger than Mr. N, but we also sometimes look for areas where there aren’t as many big dogs. When we first adopted Ruby a big dog jumped on her and broke her toe. It was totally an accident, but it freaked her out and she still sometimes gets nervous.

    But yeah I agree, just cause they are small doesn’t need mean they less space or fun things to do.

  13. Beth

    April 12, 2017 4:48 pm

    My dogs would be bored there too after a few minutes, especially if there wasn’t another dog to play with! It would be great if they could give the small dog park a little more room and some equipment.


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