The warmer weather makes it tempting to want to be outside with your dog as much as possible. When living in an urban setting, finding areas with green grass can sometimes be a challenge, especially ones where your best friend can run off leash safely (and legally). But the good news is that there is always a dog park within walking distance when you are in the New York metro area.
When it comes to providing pet-friendly spaces with engaging features, New York has truly outdone itself. Being that we are a NYC based pet brand, and all of us here at PRIDE+GROOM have dogs of our own, we wanted to share our favorite dog parks and off-leash areas where we can be found when we aren’t busy making the best grooming products for your pups!
A Dog Run vs an Off Leash Area
According to the NYC parks department, there are two types of dog parks in the city: dog runs, and off leash areas. Here are the differences between the two, and information on how to find out to which category your local park belongs.
A dog run is what we traditionally think of when we think of dog parks. They are enclosed spaces, usually fenced high enough that most dogs cannot jump out. Here, dogs can go off leash and play with other off leash dogs while their owners either join in or relax on provided benches.
Dog runs are the best place to socialize your dog in NYC. For puppies, this is an especially important step in making sure your new friend adjusts to all of the sights, sounds, and experiences that come with living in a bustling city. They can meet other dogs and learn important social skills that humans just cannot teach them.
For grown up dogs, a dog run is still a great source of joy and exercise. They can meet up with their friends to burn off energy–a critical technique in reducing bad or destructive behavior in apartment dwelling dogs.
Off Leash Spaces
Unlike dog runs, off leash areas are not enclosed. They are spans of park–or entire parks–that allow dogs to be off leash for certain hours each day. During these times, your dog can be let loose to run and play as long as you follow the rules outlined below.
If you are planning to bring your pooch to a dog park in NYC, it is important to know the rules to keep you and your pet safe. Here are the requirements laid out by the city, as well as some tips for making sure you have the best dog park experience possible:
NYC Parks Department Rules for Dog Park
First, you need to make sure that your dog is up to date on their rabies vaccines before you bring them to play with other animals and people. This is to protect your dog from picking up the deadly disease, and to protect the community from any spread via unvaccinated dogs.
NYC’s Health Department requires that all dog owners carry proof of rabies vaccine while out in public, as well as a dog license which you can find here. You can also apply for the dog license through your vet, who can answer any additional questions you have about the required vaccine and licensing. Once you apply, you pay a small fee, and within a few weeks you will receive a heart shaped tag that you attach to your dog’s collar.
If you are out with your dog without this license, you could face fines. However, that is not the only reason you should get a dog license. If your dog is ever lost, NYC animal control will check this tag to help you reunite with your pet. Plus, the fee you pay goes to fund NYC animal shelters, so you are doing good while keeping your pooch and community safe.
Rules of Thumb
There are a few other rules the city enforces at dog parks in addition to vaccination and licensing. Before you head to the park, make sure you do/know the following:
- Keep your dog on a leash no longer than 6 ft. This means extendable leashes are prohibited except in off leash areas.
- Bring poop bags to pick up and dispose of your dog’s waste. Place the tied off bags in one of the trash receptacles in the park.
- Keep an eye out for wildlife. It is your responsibility to keep your dog from chasing birds, squirrels, etc.
- Keep your dog away from other park amenities, such as playgrounds, zoos, sports fields and courts, recreation areas, and pools
The Best Uptown Manhattan Dog Parks
Uptown Manhattan is filled with lush green spaces–from the famous Central Park, to Riverside park with its incredible views of the Hudson River. Here is a list of the best places uptown to bring your pup from exercise and socialization.
Carl Schurz Park Conservancy:
No one can argue the beauty and tranquility of Carl Schurz Park. This New York City park is more a neighborhood hideaway than a tourist attraction. Carl Schurz Park has two fenced-in dog runs, one for big dogs and one for small dogs. These are the only areas in the Park where unleashed dogs can exercise and play. These highly acclaimed runs are the result of efforts by local City officials, NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, and Carl Schurz Park Conservancy.
There are many areas in Central Park where your dog is welcome to run and play off leash. Here is a map that shows you exactly where and when your dog can be off leash. There are several areas where dogs are never allowed, like in the Central Park Zoo, as well as places that dogs are allowed, but must be kept on leash even during off leash hours, such as in the Ramble.
Although times can be changed depending on events, for the most part, off leash hours in Central Park run in the morning from 6 AM to 9 AM, and again from 9 PM to 1 AM at night. If you are at the park during off leash hours, but you are not sure if you are in an off leash approved area, consult the map, and check for signs posted around the park. There is even a helpful, interactive website you can check for answers to all of your dog-related Central Park questions.
Fort Tryon Park:
Also known as Sir William’s Dog Run, this dog park is located in one of Uptown Manhattan’s jewels: Fort Tryon Park. This park is big, and its dog run is the largest public run in New York City. On this full acre of land, dogs and their owners can exercise and take in the incredible views for which Fort Tryon Park is known.
This park has a small dog and large dog section which have separate entrances. This ensures your pup only plays with dogs in their weight class, making things more safe and fun for everyone. After enjoying the dog run, you can stroll around the 8 miles of wooded, landscaped pathways of the park with your dog on leash.
The Best Midtown Dog Parks
Midtown Manhattan is light on dog parks, but if you head a little further south, you can find great places to play in Greenwich Village and Chelsea.
Jemmy’s Dog Run, Madison Square Park Conservancy:
Named after James “Jemmy” Madison, Jemmy’s Dog Run is an indispensable amenity for the neighborhood’s canine community. The newly renovated park is open year-round and located just south of the W. 25th Street entrance of the Madison Square Park. They have added 200 square feet to its footprint, installed improved lighting, clean water sources, more seating, benches, and umbrellas. With these modern improvements and upgrades, it's definitely one of the best dog parks in New York City right now.
Additionally, the dog run has added new play surfaces for the canines, including turf and hills. It’s a fun place for pets to exercise, socialize, and play, with separate runs for large dogs and small dogs.
Thanks to the dog run’s water feature—and trees and umbrellas that line its perimeter—dogs stay cool and hydrated as they burn off energy during the warm spring and summer months. There are also several features in the run to keep your dog safe and injury-free, including double-entry and exit gates, dedicated-areas for both large and small dogs, and dog-friendly ground material that’s easy on canine joints.
Spend one joyful afternoon at Jemmy’s Dog Run with your favorite furball, and you’ll quickly understand why the Village Voice designated it the #1 dog park in New York City.
Washington Square Park Dog Run:
Located in Greenwich village, Washington Square Park is famous for its arch, its fountain, and its lively reputation. It serves as a community hub for local residents, including NYU students and staff.
If you want your dog to get used to all of the sights and sounds of NYC, there is no better place to socialize them than this lively little dog run known as George's Dog Run. To keep your dog safe, there are separate small and large dog runs in the park. In 2014, renovations were completed at Washington Square Park, and subsequently George’s Dog Run. Washington Square Park is one of New York City's best-known public spaces. The new comfort stations, play areas, dog run, and maintenance facilities will support all of the park’s many uses for generations to come.
Chelsea Waterside Dog Run:
This riverside dog run has been expanded to be better than ever. The Chelsea Waterside Dog Run has doubled in size, and now has separate large and small dog sections. Your pooch will love running over the park’s mounds and boulders, and can play with the dog-friendly water spray jets when they need to cool off on a hot summer day.
The renovated park now has five times the amount of seating it used to have, meaning dog owners can relax in the shade on tiered benches. There are also trash receptacles, drinking fountains, and hose reels inside of the park.
The Best Downtown Manhattan Dog Parks
Downtown Manhattan has a great selection of dog parks from which to choose, but here are some of our favorites.
Tompkins Square Dog Run:
Located in the East Village, this dog park has both k9-turfed areas, sandy areas, and a wading pool in which your dog can play, as well as plenty of shade and seating for you to enjoy. There are separate areas for small and large dogs.
Tompkins Square Dog Run has an illustrious past: it was the official first dog park in the city, established in 1990. It was renovated in 2008, and is still going strong today. New York's inaugural dog park is also its largest! Be sure to go to the run’s annual Halloween Dog Parade to check out the best dressed pups in the city.
Sirius Dog Run:
Sirius Dog Run, named after a Port Authority K9 who died while doing search and rescue during 9/11, is located in Battery Park City in the Kowsky Plaza. This small, but very popular park has plenty of obstacles for your dog to enjoy, as well as water spouts and a small swimming area. There is plenty here to keep your downtown pup happy–especially if you have a water-loving breed.
The Soho Grand Dog Park:
While not accessible publicly, this park is too beautiful to miss! The recently redesigned dog park adjacent to the chic Soho Grand Hotel features a small pond, a zen rock garden, fire hydrant water stations for dogs to rehydrate, and free hotel wifi for pet parents who might want to get some work done while their dog romps. The dog park is free for guests of the hotel, but non-guests can also enjoy it for a $795 annual membership fee.
The Best Brooklyn Dog Parks
If you live in Brooklyn then you’re in luck, as this borough is one of the dog-friendliest parts of the city. The sheer number of dog parks is the main reason for this statement, as there are several dozen off-leash parks in Brooklyn for dog owners to explore.
Prospect Park Dog Beach:
Prospect Park is a puppy paradise in itself right in Brooklyn. The dog beach is located within the ever pawpular 585 acre Prospect Park. There are a plethora of things to do in this park, but the beach is a great way to get your pup's paws off the pavement and beat the dog days of summer.
This beach was just recently renovated and replaced the pavement with natural stone slabs, and the chain link fencing with a less intrusive, underwater fencing. This fencing is to separate swimming doggos from the other wildlife in the lake, but pet parents should keep in mind that the rest of the area is not fenced in. Prospect Park loves their puppy patrons, and welcomes them throughout the whole park including the beach. Please be sure to follow the leash rules, pick up after your doggo, and make sure they remain respectful to everyone. By following these rules, the Dog Beach can remain a safe and clean haven for all to enjoy.
Hillside Dog Park:
Hillside Dog Park began its life as an undesignated patch of land left after the building of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway during the late 1940s. Today, this area east of Columbia Heights is a huge dog park that welcomes all breeds.
The fact that this is the biggest dog park in Brooklyn isn’t such a great thing, as dirt paths turn into mud roads after heavy showers. Even dirt can cause skin problems once it gets into the animal’s fur.
On a positive note, the park has a lot of seating options in the form of benches and picnic tables. Also, keep in mind that smaller breeds can easily eat out through the front gate.
Brooklyn Bridge Dog Run:
The Brooklyn Bridge Park is a dog-friendly public park with two specific fenced-in dog runs, just for your pup to run and roam freely, off-leash. The location near Pier 6 is one large space for dogs of all sizes. There's plenty of gravel for dogs to run on, with more than enough seating for all of the humans. And the location near the Manhattan Bridge has two separate fenced-in spaces… one for small dogs and one for large dogs.
Pre-Dog Park Preparation
The best way to ensure that your dog has a good day at the park is not to go until you and your dog are ready. Turns out, there are a few things you should know and do before your pup makes their dog park debut.
Know your dog
Does your dog like to chase but not wrestle? Wrestle but not chase? Casually sniff things while never getting too close to another living thing? Understanding your dog’s likes and dislikes will help you determine if the dog park is something they are likely to enjoy, plus make it easier to assess if your dog is having a good time once they’re there.
Ease into socialization
Your dog’s first experience with other dogs shouldn’t be at a crowded dog park. It’s best to ease them into social situations — especially when they’re puppies. We recommend one-on-one playdates and puppy socialization classes so puppies can learn how to interact before taking them to a park with adult dogs.
Keep a close eye on your dog
We’re not saying you need to become a “helicopter parent,” but close. Dogs need to learn how to read signs and resolve conflict non-violently on their own. You don’t need to rush in and insert yourself into every situation. But if your dog is clearly bothering other dogs (bullying a young pup, not giving a dog space to get away) your dog may need to come out of the park for a while.
When you're living in New York City, it might feel like there aren't a lot of free spaces where your dog can run unleashed. Dog Parks can be a great opportunity for dogs to make friends, socialize and be free, but making sure your pet is ready for this outing is necessary for having a positive experience. So we hope this list helps you and your dog run and explore as much (and see some new places) as much as you'd like.