In an overcrowded city of just shy of nine million people, where in the world is man’s best friend to go? Big dogs on small patios deserve somewhere to run and play not just “do their business” and move on, so where do you take your dog for a day in the sun? Here are our picks for the best dog parks in NYC!
What makes a dog park so awesome?
According to The Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), “all decent dog parks should have” three basic things.
1. Any dog park should be large enough to avoid crowding. The point of a dog park is to socialize – both human and canine – but there should also be enough room for puppies to play and have their space. If not, territory problems could arise between pooches!
2. Any dog park should have access to water and a place to cool off. So, when picking your ideal dog park, look for a spot with trees and hydration to keep your pet safe and healthy in those heated summer months.
3. Any dog park should have waste materials. In other words, there should be easy access to garbage cans and bags. It is common knowledge that you should pick up after your pet for the well-being of every animal at the park, so you need to have access to those basic amenities.
The safety of the canine companion is at the heart of all great dog parks, so they also suggest picking a park with “natural visual barriers” such as “hills [and] trees.” This suggestion allows dogs to separate themselves from what they might feel is an unsafe situation and take cover.
The Association of Professional Dog Trainers also qualifies that spectacular dog parks have a separate area for smaller dogs. Why? Smaller dogs have their own attitudes and needs just like bigger dogs, so keeping them separate from larger dogs can be vitally important.
Nonetheless, one of the biggest factors that influence the health and safety of a dog park is the awareness of its owners. Owners must be vigilant and watching–prepared to intervene if a problem arises.
Now, on to the lists. Check out these lists of the very best Dog Parks in the Big Apple and plan your trip to the dog park today!
The Best of Free Dog Parks
Tompkins Square Dog Run
Let’s start off strong with New York City’s very first dog park. Tompkins Square Dog Run has been servicing the dogs and humans of NYC for almost thirty years, having opened in 1990.
It is the biggest of New York’s dog parks and, according to Tompkins Square Dog Run’s website, it includes many unique features such as “a state-of-the-art running surface composed of decomposed granite sand.”
This park checks all of the boxes set by our friends at the APDT plus some far-out features such as pools and bathing areas for your pup. Its the perfect place to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon or have a morning stroll with your best friend.
Hillside Dog Park
Hillside Dog Park is conveniently located in Brooklyn. It’s full of trees and space for your excited best friend to run, play, and stiff. Full of big, beautiful trees, Hillside is the perfect place for your furry pal to roam.
This park checks all of the boxes set by our friends at the APDT, so if you live in Brooklyn, consider visiting Hillside Dog Park!
Madison Square Dog Run
Madison Square Park is an intimate setting for dogs and owners to socialize. It includes sections for large and small dogs, and there is tons of seating for weary humans to rest while their pups adventure with their new friends.
This park checks all of the boxes set by our friends at the APDT – that probably explains why Madison Square Dog Run is, according to an article by Barkly Pets, “one of the most popular dog parks NYC has.”
Washington Square Dog Run
Washington Square Park is one of the many beautiful parks in historic New York City. Nestled in Greenwich Village and surrounded by off-Broadway plays, you can almost guarantee performance from the Washington Square Dog Run.
This park checks all of the boxes set by our friends at the APDT. So, if you are a dreamer or a creator that loves a show, bring your dog down to Washington Square Dog Run for some fun.
Sirius Dog Run
A concrete paradise waits for your dog at Sirius Dog Run. It is a park full of wading pools and benches, ready and waiting for your dog to enjoy. Housed in the heart of Battery Park, this dog park offers all of the amenities required by our friends at the APDT.
According to The Dog People, Sirius Dog Run dedicates itself to the memory of the “brave service dogs that made the ultimate sacrifice during the rescue events of 9/11,” so don’t forget to think of these good boys when you visit Sirius Dog Run with your dog.
Chelsea Waterside Park
Calling all athletic dogs! Chelsea Waterside park features rocks, hills, and everything in between. It is the perfect place to interact with your dog, and according to an article by The Dog People, “the grounds are riddled with natural and man-made rocks for dogs to run amidst and climb on.”
This park checks all of the boxes set by our friends at the APDT. If you’re looking for a beautiful and interactive place to run and play with your dog, give the Chelsea Dog Park a try!
Hudson River Park Pier 84 Dog Run
If you’re looking for a dog park with a view, Hudson River Park Pier 84 Dog Run is the place to go. Owners can bring their dogs to the Maritime Entertainment District and let their dogs run and play while sipping coffee and enjoying the view of the river.
According to the Pier 84 Dog Run website, this dog park provides an extra layer of security with double gates, making it harder for your lovable pooch to escape, and they provide running water and maintenance supplies.
Obviously, this park checks all of the boxes set by our friends at the APDT, so if you’re craving a dog park with a Maritime view, pack up your pup’s favorite doll and head to the Entertainment District.
Central Park marvels at tourists and engages citizens of New York City. While not a designated dog park, it is a beautiful, historic park that is perfect for your canine pal–just don’t forget to leave on the leash! Most of the park requires leashes but The Dog People point out the 23 off-leash areas and 13 dog fountains.
So, if you and your dog are seeking a New York City classic haven, leash up your pup and head to Central Park for an afternoon of puppy fun!
Paid Dog Parks
It wouldn’t be New York City without hierarchy, so here are the “most exclusive dog parks of New York City” according to Town & Country Magazine.
West Village D.O.G.
According to its website, West Village D.O.G. requires a $140 annual fee and is all about privacy. Just over 300 families are catered to by the West Village D.O.G., and there is a constant, ongoing waiting list.
When Tracey Sides, chairwoman of the West Village Run, was interviewed for Town & Country, she commented, “We have very little turnover… people love it.” Dog owners that use the high stakes dog park are given a high tech key fob for entry and enjoy their access year-round.
Mercer-Houston Dog Run
The Mercer-Houston Dog Run (MHDR) is located at the corner of Mercer and Houston. In fact, according to the MHDR website, this plot of land has been a haven for dog lovers, dating back to the 1960s where it was merely an “empty, dirt-covered lot.”
Now, the Mercer-Houston Run is a public, members-only dog park with a $60 membership fee. Each dog is provided with a special Mercer-Houston dog tag and expected to be wearing it at all times, and the dog park has strict rules about who can attend.
In the interview with Town & Country, Jessica West, Mercer-Houston secretary comments that “anyone is welcome to apply.” In order to apply to be a member, one must submit an online application, a scanned copy of vaccination records, a copy of your New York State Dog License, and yearly dues.
Astro’s Dog Run
Located in Hell’s Kitchen, a bustling area adjacent to the theatre district, Astro’s Dog Run is a green-friendly, member’s only dog park. It requires a $30 annual fee and requires its dogs to be vaccinated, licensed, and non-aggressive.
In the Town & Country article, Bonnie Leal commented that “there’s turnover because it’s a neighborhood people don’t stay in.” So, if you live in the area and need a new dog park, consider checking out Astro’s Dog Run for a semi-private, members-only experienced.
Rules and Regulations
Now that we’ve discovered some of the best dog parks to take your beloved pooch, let’s review a couple of New York State rules for dogs.
- New York State requires all dogs to be vaccinated for rabies and have a current dog license.
- Unless specifically noted in the area, all dogs must be leashed.
- Unless specifically noted in the area, dogs will not be allowed to enter playgrounds, fountains, beaches, or other public places.
- You, as the owner of the dog, are responsible for cleaning up after your dog.
- You, as the owner of the dog, may not allow your dog to chase other animals–wild or domestic.
Dog Park Etiquette
We have skimmed over the governmental rules and expectations for dog owners for the state of New York City, but what else is expected of dog owners enjoying a day at the dog park? Dog parks have specific social norms to follow, so check out the below tips on staying sane at the dog park!
First of all, know your dog. Is your dog aggressive when approached by another dog? It might not be smart to bring him or her to a dog park where tons of other dogs are at play. Take stock of your dog’s habits and reactions to other canines before endangering other dogs!
Second, if you are in a leash off area, just keep the leash off. Your dog is here to play, to interact, to have fun. Don’t make it try to enjoy itself restricted. Instead, let the dog out! It’ll be so excited it got to enjoy itself, and you’ll be glad to have had a little break.
Third, if you notice a problem arise between your dog and another dog, intervene. It is not smart to allow the dogs to figure it out for themselves. In the end, one or both of the dogs will end up hurt, and that will only cause more problems in the long run. So, step in and stop the conflict quickly.
Finally, you must, must clean up after your dog. Have I said that before? It is the law, but it is also common courtesy. No one wants to be walking their dog through the dog park and step on a mess because an owner was lazy. Be courteous and clean the mess!
If you want more tips on how to make the most of your time at the dog park, check out this YouTube video on dog park etiquette!
Nothing is like a day a safe day at the dog park with your best friend. Pick a place and go play–you and Fluffy will be so glad you did, and with so many options in New York City, you can’t go wrong in picking the perfect place for you and your pooch to enjoy a day in the park.