Ever since I was a kid, we had a dog in our home. They have so much personality and bring plenty of joy to their home. I love dogs, and our brittany spaniel, Pepper, is curled up beside me as I type this review!

Dog Park is designed by Lottie and Jack Hazell, with art by Holly Exley, Dann May, and Kate Every. The game is published by Birdwood Games.

The lid of a board game standing up on a table.

In Dog Park, 1 to 4 players run their own dog walking business. They will recruit dogs, and then choose which dogs in their kennel to place on the lead and walk along the trail.

Throughout the course of the game, players will earn reputation based on the dogs they recruit and walk, as well as through other actions during the game. Ultimately, the player with the highest reputation will be declared the winner.

Being a dog lover, I was immediately drawn to the theme of Dog Park! I backed it on Kickstarter and greatly anticipated its delivery.

The inside of a board game box.

Game Components

I love the components of Dog Park. Granted, I have the Kickstarter deluxe version of the game, but every aspect is well designed and beautiful.

  • The art on the cards and game board are colourful and show off all the different dog breeds.
  • The wooden player and resource tokens are super cute. The pink squishy is adorable!
  • The insert and resource trays are made by GameTrayz and organise the game very well. The insert will even hold sleeved cards including all the cards from the European Dogs and Famous Dogs expansions.

What Stuff Did I Bling? I have sleeved the cards with Gamegenic brand sleeves and six packages of the Standard size are needed and one package of Mini European. Sleeves are a great way to protect the cards. They are especially good with cards that get shuffled or handled a lot during gameplay.

The board game set up with cards and tokens.

Game Summary

Dog Park is played over 4 rounds, and in each round, there are 4 phases.

  1. Recruitment – players will bid on dogs displayed in the field through an auction.
  2. Selection – dogs that are in players kennel can be placed on the lead to be taken on the walk.
  3. Walking – players will move their player token through the trail, collecting resources and using other actions.
  4. Home Time – dogs that have been on the lead are moved back to the kennel and players gain reputation for walking dogs.

These phases are repeated 4 times in the game and then the game ends with final scoring. The player with the highest reputation is declared the winner!

There are forecast cards randomly placed on the board providing special effects for each round of the game. These are fun and provide some nice variety. I do wish that there were more of them as they can really spice up the game!

Board game tokens of people walking a dog.

Recruitment Phase – The Auction!

The first step of each round is the auction. This is a chance for people to blind bid on one of the dogs in the field that they would like to add to their kennel.

Starting with the first player, people will place their player token below the dog in the field that they want to recruit. Then they will place their offer dials with the bid side facing down so people cannot see how much they are bidding, ranging from 1 to 5 reputation.

Choosing which dogs to recruit and how much to offer is a key strategy in the game. There are awards given for who has the most dogs of each breed. Also, every dog has an ability that is activated at various times during the game. Utilising dog abilities in an effective way is key to victory in Dog Park.

An auction dial with numbered values.

The Offer Dial

Once everyone has placed their offer, they are revealed simultaneously. If a player is unopposed, then they claim the dog and add it to the kennel. They reduce their reputation by the amount bid in the offer.

Any dog with multiple offers is given to the highest bidder and that player reducing their reputation track based on their bid. Losing players choose remaining dogs, in turn order, paying one reputation.

Recruitment is repeated so that players can recruit two dogs each round. So, by the end of the game, each player can recruit a total of 8 dogs.

I love auctions in games and it is great fun here in Dog Park. There is so much thinking and rethinking about which dog to bid on and then how much to offer. There is joy when you bid low on a dog you want and no one else also bids. At the same time, there is frustration when you bid high on a dog and it wasn’t necessary, because no one else wanted that dog. I find it all fun and exciting, especially since what you bid and pay for the dog is reputation, which is the end game victory points. Auctions create a lot of fun tension in games as you try to outthink your opponents!

The kennel board with dog cards.

Selection Phase

This is actually a very quick phase where players select the dogs that they want to walk. Up to three dogs can be walked each round and this is done by moving the dogs from the kennel up to the lead section of the player board.

Every dog has a resource requirement that players must pay in order for the dog to be eligible to be walked. Then, every dog that is placed on the lead, has a collar token placed on their card. It is possible for dogs to be walked multiple times throughout the course of the game. Every time they are walked, they get a collar token placed on the card.

Some dogs have abilities that are activated during the Selection phase. Many of these generate resources for players, which may allow them to pay for more dogs to be on the lead.

I love having some dogs with Selection abilities that give resources needed for other dogs in my kennel. This allows me to be more flexible as I walk on the trail.

Player tokens on the trail of a game.

Walking Phase

If you have ever played the game Parks, then you will be familiar with this phase in Dog Park. During the Walking phase, players will move forward along the trail (1-4 spaces) and gain the location reward on that spot on the trail.

Most of the locations generate resources that the player can take from the supply. There are other rewards that include gaining reputation points, or swapping a dog from your kennel with one in the field and more.

If a player chooses to go to a location that is occupied by another player, they must pay a reputation in order to receive the reward of that space.

There are a number of dogs with abilities that are activated during the walking phase. Some of these are the most creative and engine building type abilities which can really enable players to develop strong in-game strategies.

Tokens on a board game.

A Fork In The Trail

Halfway down the trail, it will split into two different paths. Players can choose which way to go. Each path provides different rewards, with one focussed more on resources and the other giving the player some extra reputation points.

Both paths lead to the end of the trail and the first to leave can choose which leaving bonus to claim. Some of the bonuses are great, while one of them actually has negative reputation.

There is plenty of decision space around how to move along the trail. If you move through the trail quickly, then you will be able to get the location rewards that you want, and get the best bonus for leaving first. But, if you move through the trail slowly, then you will be able to land on more spaces, and claim more rewards. The problem is that you will likely be the last player to leave the trail, and be forced to take negative reputation.

Various dog breed cards on the board.

Home Time Phase

The final phase in each round is Home Time. All the dogs that have been been on the lead are moved back to the player’s kennel. Players earn 2 reputation for each dog walked. They lose 1 reputation for every dog in the kennel with no collar token.

Once Home Time is finished, the game moves to the next round going through the 4 phases again.

I love how easy it is to follow the steps and progression of the game. There is a round tracker at the top of the game board. A little bird token is used to show the progress of the game.

Board game objective card.

Final Scoring

Once the final round is completed, the game moves to final scoring. There are some dogs with final scoring abilities. These are activated at this time and they typically provide the player with bonus reputation points.

Each player is dealt 2 objective cards at the start of the game and they chose one and discard the other. At the end of the game, players gain reputation for any objective that has been achieved.

Dog breed awards give reputation to the players with the most dogs of each breed. The player with the highest reputation is declared the winner of Dog Park!

The game states that the length is 40-80 minutes and I feel that is fairly accurate. The games we played were only slightly longer, with 4 player games typically taking around 90 minutes.


Dog Park is a fun game and it is very accessible for families and new gamers. Every person I played with, greatly enjoyed the game. Personally, I might have preferred a deeper game with a bit more complexity. But, that is not this game. Dog Park is a medium light game, and for that, it is a winner.

Dog Park Rating
  • Score - 7.5/10


Dog Park is a fun medium light game, that makes it feel like you really are running a dog walking company!


Easy to learn and play. Great blend of game mechanics: auction, set collection and track movement. Amazing art and components. Such a good theme!


Not enough variety in dog abilities. More forecast cards would be nice to have in the game.

Categorized in: