I love dogs. I grew up with a kick-ass mutt named Radar and today I care for the cutest Sheltie in the world (yes, THE WORLD) named, Bailey. I believe if you don’t like animals, particularly dogs, you are not to be trusted.* And because I love my dog, I like to make sure that he gets the chance to play, exercise, and socialize as much as possible. And to do so means having my finger on the pulse of the dog run scene. Yeah, we dog owners are that serious about this stuff. There is nothing worse than seeing your pup with cabin fever looks at you with his sad puppy dog eyes, yearning for a trip to the dog run to see his friends. If you are not emotionally affected by such things, see a doctor because you may be dead inside.**
We all have our preferences, and your choice of dog parks may differ from mine. After all, what suits Bailey’s temperament, size, and choice of dog community (not to mention the location of the park) may not be what works for you and your pooch. Luckily, the city offers lots of online resources for finding dog parks that will help you find what works best for you. In the meantime, here are a few short profiles on three spots that I, and fellow dog owner – my lovely friend, Mary and her dog – can vouch for. But remember: no matter where you go, you should always clean up after your dog. Otherwise, you are nothing but a Jersey Shore-style dirtbag.
Ok, so there isn’t an official enclosed “dog run” in the park, but it’s still a great place to take your pup to stretch his/her legs. Dogs are prohibited at the playgrounds and a few other locations, including Sheep Meadow and Strawberry Fields, but there are plenty of other dog-friendly areas for you and the pup to explore. Bailey loves the long trails, the grass, endless foot traffic, and the gazillion smells that this park holds. He would sniff every blade of grass and every pebble if only time (and my patience) would allow. Dogs must be on leash during regular park hours. However, most of the park does allow dogs to be off-leash before 9 am and after 9pm.
Please see “Dogs in the Park” on the Central Park’s official webpage for further details.
This is the regular hang out of my good dog pal, Jack. He loves the peaceful area and owner Mary praises the sense of community at this off-leash dog park. It’s large, clean, and relatively low-key as par as dog parks go. It’s worth noting that the loveable-yet-sometimes-shy Jack has come out of his shell and made many friends here. The ground is cement, which means a dirt-free dog after an hour or two of playtime. Many dogs (and owners) seem to prefer this to the gravel and sand found at several of the other dog parks around the city.
The Stuyvesant Square Dog Run is located at 2nd Avenue & 15th Street; Note that hours are generally 7am-10 am and 6pm – 11pm during the week and 7 am – 11pm on the weekends.
Hillside Dog Park
Located across the bridge in Brooklyn Heights, this is one of the largest enclosed dog parks in the city. The park is over two acres of fenced in area for dogs to run, play, and get their ya-yas out. There is even a separate, fenced-off area for smaller dogs. It is tree-shaded, wood chip covered area (re: don’t wear white pants), but it makes for a good, soft ground for the dogs to run over. Water fountains and bowels are also available, so you don’t have to carry a bottle and bowl when your pup needs a drink. A few picnic tables are also set up inside the park, but remember: you are in a dog run surrounded by lots of dogs who love food and have excellent noses. If you bring yourself a sandwich, you do so at your own risk.
Hillside Dog Park is located in Brooklyn Heights, near the Dumbo border at Columbia Heights and Vine. Visit www.hillsidedogs.org for more details.
*There is no science to back this up. And I do not include people with allergies in this broad, sweeping, possibly unfair, generalization.
**Again, I have no scientific data to back this up.