Dogs seem to get people talking, Tamara Peffer noted after leading a group dog-walking hike through Nolde Forest on Sunday morning.

The Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center's first "Bark in the Park" of 2013 drew 30 people and 16 pups to the state park along Route 625 in Cumru Township.

Human participants talked about responsible dog ownership, their canines' quirks and the scenery while Peffer, an environmental education specialist for the center, guided the 21/4-mile, one-hour walk.

Her rescued golden retriever, Hazel, helped lead the way.

"It's a really good outreach and a great time," Peffer said. "There were a lot of new people and some that had never been to the park before."

She said the event attracts people who might not normally participate in park activities but want to socialize their dogs and talk with other dog owners.

When opportunities present themselves, Peffer tries to get the group talking about responsible dog-ownership practices.

"We talk about good stewardship, like cleaning up after the dogs," she said. "We talk about respect for people who are afraid of dogs and dogs who are afraid of people."

Peffer said even dogs who typically don't like other pooches can normally find at least one canine friend in the group.

"What's really neat is that it usually ends up that the dogs that are comfortable with each other are usually with people who are comfortable with each other," she said.

The event was held monthly from January 2011 through last May and intermittently since then. A logging project and other changes at the park made it necessary to reduce the frequency, Peffer explained.

Contact Beth Anne Heesen: 610-371-5084 or bheesen@readingeagle.com.