EDMONTON -- The City of Edmonton may have closed off-leash dog parks, but a new private park has opened outside of city limits so pet owners can enjoy the outdoors while physical distancing.

Awesome Pawsome Ranch, located south of Spruce Grove, has expanded its dog kennel business to include a private off-leash dog park.

Pet owners can book private one-hour sessions in a 3.5-acre fully fenced area. Bookings can be done online and up to two pets and two adults may use the area at one time, provided they all reside in one home. 

“We mainly had this idea to open in the summer for pets who couldn’t get along with other pets at off-leash parks," said kennel owner Shanin Neff. "But with social distancing rules, now people are just overjoyed to have a private space for just themselves and their families and their family pets to come to, get a little fresh air out in the country and enjoy themselves.”

Meagan Hazlewood normally takes her dog to a park in St. Albert and notes that many parks are now closed.

“This is our first time. I was like super excited when I found this on Facebook," she said. “The other advantage to this is we’re taking the social distancing thing obviously very seriously because we have a baby right, so for us, like we have to stay healthy.”

Dog at Awesome Pawsome Ranch

As a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, Neff's dog kennel business has suffered. 

“Unfortunately our business revolves around 95 per cent of our clients that want to go travelling for fun” she said. "With all the travel bans we now have absolutely no clients staying with us so this has become our new business."

Anyone wanting to use the park can reserve private blocks of time at a cost of $10 per hour. 

Neff says many clients immediately book more sessions after visiting and there are rebates when you reserve multiple sessions. 

After pet owners book time at the park, Neff outlines the rules for them in greater detail as she wants to ensure physical distancing protocols are followed, making it a safe environment for everyone.

The City of Edmonton closed four fenced dog parks over the weekend, and has also ordered that all dogs must be on-leas at the city's remaining 38 parks.