New facility offers dogs a chance to run free

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A new 50,000 square foot off-leash area gives dog owners the opportunity to allow their furry friends to play and run in a stress-free environment.

Play Unleashed is the brainchild of Cody Shepherd, owner of The Place 4 Paws, located just south of Airdrie.

“My own reactive dogs (were) a big part of (setting up the off-leash area). I used to take Thunder to the off-leash every day but then she started to get more and more reactive around other dogs and it became more of a hazard for me and for her,” he said. “Having a space for my own girls to run around and not have to worry about other dogs – whether they’re up to date on their vaccinations or stuff like that.”

Since the facility opened in April, it’s proving to be popular with both owners and dogs.

“We haven’t really advertised or done much that way – it’s really been word of mouth from people who relate to my own personal story of having reactive dogs or who don’t really want to take their dogs to off-leash parks,” he said.

“Whether they like to run and chase balls or if they just like to be off-leash, I think that’s the way dogs are meant to play and interact. Given that chance, when you unhook that leash and they can run and do doggy things, I think they get a lot more mental stimulation.”

Shepherd is holding a grand opening of Play Unleashed July 21 from 3 to 7 p.m.

“We’re going to have an adventure course and we’ll take people through there. We’re also going to have a bit of a midway that’s going to help the Cochrane (and area) Humane Society – a few carnival type games that people can go and play – and then we’ll have a barbecue as well that’s going to go to the society.”

Representatives from the Cochrane and Area Humane Society (CHS) will be on site and Shepherd said they hope to bring foster dogs or puppies with them. Proceeds from the midway tickets and the barbecue will go to the CHS.

People are encouraged to bring their dogs to check out the new space and take part in the fun.

“How the adventure course will work is, we’ll have some agility/obstacles and you get a minute on each obstacle…before you move onto the next one,” Shepherd said. “We find it’s really good for the dog’s mental stimulation and a lot of fun. Whether you fail or succeed, it’s not a big deal.”

Private time at Play Unleashed can be booked for either half an hour for $10 or a full hour for $15. Shepherd has set up an online app-based booking system, which can be accessed and downloaded through The Place 4 Paws’ Facebook page. New users are required to provide full vaccination records for their dogs to ensure the safety of all park users.

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