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Your Guide to the Best Dog Parks in NYC


Want to socialize your dog? Bring them to the best dog parks in NYC.

Types of Dog Parks

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.

Dog Runs

Dog runs are 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, dog runs are 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.

Rules for Dog Parks in NYC

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 Parks

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.

NewDevRev’s Tips for Enjoying NYC Dog Parks

Now that you know the city’s requirements, here are some of our tips on how to make the most of your dog park experience.

  • Bring toys to use in off leash areas, but be smart about using them in dog runs. Off leash areas have plenty of space for games of fetch or tug of war, but since dog runs have a lot of off leash dogs in a small area, your dog’s favorite toy could spark conflict. The last thing you want is for your dog’s toy to be stolen by another dog, ripped apart, or the cause of an otherwise preventable dog fight.
  • Stay vigilant. Most other dogs in NYC parks are friendly, but you should still be sure to pay attention at all times to keep your dog–and others–safe.
  • Bring a water bowl. While some dog parks have fountains especially for your pooch, it is still a good idea to bring a small, collapsible bowl that you can fill from a human water fountain and then set on the ground. That way, your pup can stay hydrated and ready to play.
  • Avoid the natural water. For some breeds, this will be especially challenging. But no matter how much your dog would love to take a swim in a pond, lake, or stream, it is a good idea to steer them away from the park’s bodies of water. They may be treated with chemicals, and are not necessarily safe for your dog. Keep your dog to designated water areas within the dog runs.
  • Get your dog all of its vaccines. Although NYC only requires the rabies vaccine, it is important that you keep your dog up to date on all of its vaccines. When your dog is mingling with all of the other pups in the dog run, you will want to protect them from dangerous–and even deadly–diseases like parvo, distemper, kennel cough, and canine influenza.

Best Uptown 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.

Central Park Dog Friendly Areas

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 Dog Run

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 anywhere 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.

Best Midtown Dog Parks

Midtown 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.

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. To keep your dog safe, there are separate small and large dog runs in the park.

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.

Best Downtown 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 first dog run in the city, established in 1990. It was renovated in 2008, and is still going strong today. 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.