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The Best United States Dog Parks

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Haley

January 18, 2023

City Dog Parks

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Looking for the perfect place to play with your dog? We’ve got you covered! It’s hard to narrow down, but we’ve put together some of the best dog parks throughout the country so you can plan your next adventure. Here’s what the United States has to offer to its more than 90 million canine companions.

This page is about public city parks and also includes Sniffspot private dog parks. Sniffspot is the largest network of private dog parks for rent in the world. Each of the thousands of Sniffspot dog parks are hosted by locals on private land with 100% private bookings to maximize safety for guests and their dogs. Sniffspot offers various types of dog parks, including fenced fields, water parks, indoor dog parks, dog beaches, and more. Click here to learn more about Sniffspots near you!

Know Before You Go: Public Dog Park Checklist

What to bring with you to a dog park

Here are a few things to bring with you when visiting any dog park in the United States.

Pack some dog waste bags

Keep your parks clean! Always pack a few extra poop bags in case you need to pick up after your pup — and consider scooping any left-behind piles you come across from other park users, too. This will make the environment safer for everyone who visits.

Bring your own fresh, clean drinking water

Some public dog parks offer water bowls or water fountains for your dog, but it’s a good idea to pack some of your own just in case. Never leave your dog’s hydration up to chance, especially on hot days during North American summers. (You can read more about indoor dog parks in this article, but the below listing includes all outdoor parks.)

Put your dog in a collar or harness with ID tags

If your dog will be playing with other dogs, it’s important to pay close attention to what they’re wearing. You don’t want anyone’s teeth or paws getting caught in loose fabric or buckles!

That said, it’s always a good idea to bring a well-fitted collar or harness along with your dog’s identification tags. Many cities or counties require your dog to display proper licenses when off your own property.

Pack a leash

Along with a collar or harness, bring a leash, even if the dog park you’re visiting is a designated off-leash area. This way you can keep your dog under control while walking to and from the entrance. You might also consider packing an extra leash for safety reasons in case you need to grab hold of another dog or intervene if a conflict arises — and it’s a good idea to read up on leash laws in your local area before venturing out.

What to do before going into a public dog park

Research the park ahead of time

Read reviews and be on the lookout for any common issues on park property, like unruly dogs or left-behind waste. Make sure you understand the park rules and city ordinances in place — different off-leash areas might have restrictions about dogs in heat, bringing food into the shared space, current rabies vaccinations, potential displays of aggressive behavior, whether your dog also needs to be under voice control, number of dogs per person, and more.

We know it's a long list, but it's important to understand what you're getting into before visiting!

It can be hard to find reliable information about some public parks (one reason Sniffspot’s private listings might be a better option) — so when in doubt, don’t risk it. Your dog’s safety and comfort are too important.

Watch the dog park for a few minutes before entering

Take inventory of the other dogs and owners.

  • Is everyone under control?
  • Are the dogs enjoying their play time?
  • Is the area large enough that dogs can take breaks and get space from their playmates if they start to feel overwhelmed? (Tight spaces can prevent your pet from engaging in natural social behavior.)
  • Are any park staff present or needing to intervene?
  • Ultimately, is there anything about the situation that makes you feel uncomfortable?

Make sure you have basic knowledge of dog body language

This will help you make sure your dog is enjoying their time and keep everyone safe! Know what signs might indicate that your pup is stressed or overwhelmed — and be ready to step in if needed.

You can read more about interpreting your dog’s body language in this article.

What area of the country has the best dog parks?

Sniffspot conducted a 2022 survey of dog owners across the country to better understand the state of public dog parks.

The common stereotype is that the east and west coasts are the most dog-friendly regions of our country — but survey results show that public dog parks in the coasts are actually the dirtiest and most dangerous in the country. We found that more than 1 in 7 dog owners report their dogs having been attacked in a public dog park.

The midwest seems to have the safest dog parks in terms of injuries while the east coast has the cleanest public dog parks. You should exercise caution when taking your dog to any busy off-leash area, regardless of location.

The Best Dog Parks in the United States

Here are some of the top places where your canine companion can run off leash, including open dog beaches, green spaces, and more popular destinations.

Fiesta Island (public dog park)

  • Address: 1750 Fiesta Island Rd, San Diego, California
  • Hours: 6 am to 10 pm
  • Off leash? Yes
  • Activities: Walking, swimming, wading, running, surfing, biking
  • Entrance fee? No

Located in Mission Bay Park, Fiesta Island is one of the most popular dog beaches in the country. It’s a massive space up against the water that is dog friendly with no leash rules, making it more of an outdoor recreation area for a range of activities than a traditional enclosed dog park. Fiesta Island offers a 5.2-mile asphalt path around the island for dogs to enjoy with their owners.

Note that this area is not fenced and is very large, so you’ll want to make sure your dog has a solid recall before you visit. There are also no public water fountains and no dog wash station.

What some visitors have had to say about Fiesta Island dog park:

"We love Fiesta Island dog park! Such a beautiful place to walk with your dog off leash. We like to walk along the edge where my dog can get in the water. We prefer this to place other dog parks because the focus isn't primarily on playing with other dogs but rather just taking an off leash walk and saying hi to friends along the way." — Kelly H

"Huge fenced spot for dogs to run and play. There are lots of cliffs though so watch your footing. Beach is narrow, but there’s lots of room away from the beach to play. The beach is made up of rough sand and the rest of the area is dirt, so I would recommend sneakers. Also, the beach isn’t separated by dog size. But everyone was respectful and there’s lots of room to spread out." — Emmalee P

"We love Fiesta Island Dog Park! It’s so spacious and my dog loves the water. I love that you can walk around the whole park and be by the water for the majority of the time. During the spring it is nice and green, but now that it’s summer it’s brown and crunchy. My dog still loves it!" — Kate B

Ocean Beach Dog Beach (public dog park)

Ocean Beach Dog Beach was one of the first off-leash dog beaches in the country. It’s located near the Ocean Beach Flood Control Channel and is open to dogs, owners, surfers, runners, and more. Ocean Beach is one of the country's most beautiful dog parks right along the coast.

Note that this area is not fenced and is large, so you’ll want to make sure your dog has a solid recall before you visit. There is a shower wash station located about a block away from the main area.

What some visitors have had to say about Dog Beach Ocean Beach:

"My lovely fur babies loved this beach. Some parts of the water is not as deep allowing my short legged dogs to be able to swim more comfortably. My previous dog loved this placed so we decided to bring the new doggos here too. All the dogs here are relative well socialized too. Lots of space for your dog to be comfortable in. Parking is difficult. Dogs are allowed on the other side too but on leash only. This area is fully off leashed." — Meng-Hua W

"What can I say besides it’s a wonderful place to bring your dog. On the beach with incredible views and warm sand between your toes. Lots of friendly people to talk with and plenty of pets for your dog to play with. You can jump in the water with your pouch, let them swim, or chase a ball. Bring a chair or beach towel, some sunscreen, and fresh water for you and your dog. Love this park." — Rob S

Westminster Hills Off-Leash Dog Park (public dog park)

  • Address: 10499 Simms St, Westminster, Colorado
  • Hours: 24 hours
  • Off leash? Yes
  • Activities: Walking, hiking, running, swimming, wading, picnicking
  • Entrance fee? No

Westminster Hills is a popular dog park for pet owners in the Denver Metro area. It’s a properly spacious park offering 420 acres (yes, you read that right!) between Standley Lake North Open Space and Colorado Hills Open Space Park. The spot includes a dog drinking fountain, trash receptacle, swimming pond, plenty of benches, and patches of shade throughout.

Note that this area is very large and only partially fenced, so you’ll want to make sure your dog has a solid recall before you visit.

What some visitors have had to say about Westminster Hills:

"Amazing dog park. It can be crowded at popular times but as long as you can find parking it’s big enough you can find less crowded areas. As others have mentioned it’s not securely fenced and even if it was it would be easy for a dog to take off and be out of sight. This is a particularly good spot to get pics of your dogs too. One note I noticed someone posted seeing a rattlesnake. In maybe 10+ years of going to this park I am aware of one instance my dog and I ran into a rattlesnake. It was pretty far back on a trail; I never saw it but I heard it and my dog jumped. It was a relief to know my dog knew not to tangle with one." — Rymats

"400 acres of off-leash paradise. In the summer, the creek is full and the dogs have a great place to cool down and play. Multiple trails to hike with great mountain and city views. PS - Be a good human and clean up after your dog. Bags and waste bins are provided." — Tiffany D

Cherry Creek State Park (public dog park)

  • Address: 4201 S Parker Rd, Aurora, Colorado
  • Hours: 5 am to 10 pm
  • Off leash? Yes
  • Activities: Walking, hiking, running, swimming, wading, picnicking
  • Entrance fee? Yes, $3 daily permit or $25 annual permit

Cherry Creek State Park is operated by Colorado Parks and Wildlife just like Chatfield — and it’s even bigger at 107 acres that’s completely fenced. Cherry Creek flows through the off-leash area to provide your pup with the opportunity to swim, wade, and cool down from Colorado’s dry heat.

Note that this area is very large, so you’ll want to make sure your dog has a solid recall before you visit.

What some visitors have had to say about Cherry Creek Off-Leash Dog Area:

"There is an admission fee ($3), we had to use the self-service kiosk because there were no attendants when we arrived. We did park on a neighbouring street off Orchard Ave, so we were able to avoid the parking fee of $11.
We walked the entire perimeter of the park (~90 minutes) at a relaxed pace. There's an assortment of different obstacles, as well as different trails. Our pup adored cooling off in the stream towards the end of the circuit…there's many access points, so we'd pick a quieter one next time!" — Meghan S

Dog Mountain (public dog park)

  • Address: 143 Parks Rd, St Johnsbury, Vermont
  • Hours: 10 am to 5 pm Friday through Sunday
  • Off leash? Yes
  • Activities: Walking, hiking, art viewing, swimming, wading, picnicking
  • Entrance fee? Optional donation

According to the Friends of Dog Mountain, this dog park is set on 150 acres on a mountain top location in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. The grounds are always open to people and their dogs who can roam freely off leash while exploring hiking trails, dog ponds, and unique artwork. It's an especially popular road trip destination.

What some visitors have had to say about Dog Mountain:

"Beautiful place, dogs are not only welcome, but cherished here. Great for a walk. The gallery and shop has a great selection of artwork, souvenirs and original things for you and your dog. The chapel is one of a kind. This place is definitely worth a visit!" — Claudine V

"Special place to honor the bond between human and dog. Do stop if you are anywhere near. Great gift shop and museum. Grounds and nice, set up on a hill. The Dog Chapel is pretty neat. Think of a bar in Key West with the walls and ceiling covered with pinned dollar bills. Dog Chapel is like that but with photos of dogs that have passed on. Obviously dog friendly, no leash law. Trails to hike and always other people with their dogs visiting." — Todd M

"As a pet lover, this is one of the best places on Earth! It is a must if you have a dog and are around the northern Vermont NH area. Bring your furry friend and go there. A chapel is there to leave notes and photos of your pets that have crossed the rainbow bridge. I was touched by all of the notes left." — Christopher B

Montrose Beach Dog Friendly Area (public dog park)

  • Address: 601 West Montrose Avenue, Chicago, Illinois
  • Hours: 6 am to 11 pm
  • Off leash? Yes
  • Activities: Off-leash play, walking, swimming, wading
  • Entrance fee? $10 dog friendly area permit

Find this 3.83 acre stretch of dog-friendly beach where Wilson Avenue reaches east to Lake Michigan. This is one of Chicago’s largest public city dog parks — and one of only two dog-friendly beaches where your dog can swim and wade off leash. The water space and larger land size make it a better, safer option than most dog friendly areas in the Windy City.

Sociability note: This public dog park is relatively small in size, which means your dog might not be able to make space from other pets if they aren’t interested in playing. You should only visit if you’re confident your pup is social and tolerant with unfamiliar dogs.

What some visitors have had to say about Montrose Beach Dog Friendly Area:

"Large dog beach with shallow water. There is also a sand portion for the dogs to play in away from the beach. Make sure your dog has pretty good recall or bring a leash because there are so many dogs when it gets busy. During most the of summer there are also dog wash stations so you can have a most clean dog before you get home but be sure to bring money!" — Vishna P

Wiggly Field Dog Park (public dog park)

  • Address: 2645 N Sheffield Ave, Chicago, Illinois
  • Hours: 6 am to 11 pm
  • Off leash? Yes
  • Activities: Off-leash play
  • Entrance fee? No

Wiggly Field in Noethling Park is a small dog park on the north side of Chicago. The name Wiggly Field is a play on words of the nearby historic baseball stadium, Wrigley Field. This dog park has been featured in a range of publications, including being named one of the top ten US dog parks by Dog Fancy magazine readers. It's a neighborhood favorite.

Sociability note: Wiggly Field public dog park is relatively small in size, which means your dog might not be able to make space from other pets if they aren’t interested in playing. You should only visit if you’re confident your pup is social and tolerant with unfamiliar dogs.

What some visitors have had to say about Wiggly Field:

"Love wiggly field. We take our pup there all the time and they love running around and playing with the other dogs. It's right by the El line too, which might seem like a downside, but it actually helps a lot to socialize dogs and young pups with loud noises and distractions. Our dog hated the train before we took them there, now they barely notice as they're used to ignoring it while playing. Community here is great, everyone is always nice. Just don't wear white, some dogs like hugs!" — Nathan J

"Plenty of room for the pups to stretch their legs. It is all asphalt and gravel though, so it isn't the easiest on their paws." — Leah B

Beau’s Dream Dog Park (public dog park)

  • Address: 901 Buchanan Ave, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
  • Hours: 6 am to 9 pm
  • Off leash? Yes
  • Activities: Off-leash play
  • Entrance fee? No

Beau’s Dream Dog Park is a Beneful’s Dream Team dog park in Buchanan Park built by DIY network star Jason Cameron, pet expert Arden Moore, and interior design star Nate Berkus. Unveiled in 2013, it has separate small and large dog areas to help minimize the risk of prey drive related incidents as pets chase each other around. Each section has its own splash pad. The small dog size has a fancy dog tunnel while the large pet area has a tennis ball tree that launches tennis balls in every direction — a bit chaotic, to be sure, but a dream for many high energy, social dogs.

Sociability note: This public dog park is small in size, which means your dog might not be able to make space from other pets if they aren’t interested in playing. You should only visit if you’re confident your pup is social and tolerant with unfamiliar dogs.

What some visitors have had to say about Beau's Dream Buchanan Dog Park:

"Great dog park, spacious play area, great seating to relax and converse with others as well. The waste stations were filled and very helpful and water stations were fantastic. It would be nice if everyone would clean up after their dog but that's not the case and it's a real shame because having this park in our community is a great blessing. Other than that, an absolutely great dog park." — Jose J

"This was a great dog park. There is 2 separate areas for small and larger dogs. There is a splash pad in the bigger dog area and there we benches throughout the fenced in area for owners to relax as their dogs played. They were tennis balls provided. There were also water bowls and waste bags provided for easy puppy clean up. Our baby Moose ready enjoyed his time with all the others dogs. We like that there were 2 gates to get into the park so you would not let another dog out accidently. We will be back for another play date." — Sara H

Magnuson Park Off-Leash Area (public dog park)

  • Address: 7400 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, Washington
  • Hours: 4 am to 11:30 pm
  • Off leash? Yes
  • Activities: Off-leash play, swimming, wading, walking, running
  • Entrance fee? No

Magnuson Park’s off-leash area is one of the largest in the area at 8.6 entire acres! It’s also the only dog park within Seattle’s city limits that has water access, coming up against Lake Washington’s freshwater shoreline where your pup can swim and wade to their heart’s content. There is a winding gravel trail to walk on as well as an open, flat play area — ultimately making Magnuson one of Washington’s top dog park destinations.

What some visitors have had to say about Magnuson Park Off-Leash Dog Beach:

"This is one of my top 5 happy places to go, and my absolute favorite dog park! It's got one of the biggest play areas/fields of any park I've seen. It provides 2 water hoses and bowls, but it's also got several decently long paths to walk, either around the park or down to the water. And the fully fenced water area is just THE best! The water isn't polluted and muddy like Marymoor." — Jody D

Schuylkill River Park Dog Run (public dog park)

  • Address: 25th & Spruce Sts., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Hours: Dawn to dusk
  • Off leash? Yes
  • Activities: Off-leash play
  • Entrance fee? No

The Schuylkill River Park boasts to being one of the best dog parks on the East Coast. It features two separate dog runs, providing a designated space for small, elderly, or shy dogs who might be overwhelmed by larger crowds. This can also help minimize the risk of prey drive related incidents between dogs. The park has benches, special canine grass to make play safe and prevent messes, and water permeable pavers as well. In the summer your dog can wade and lounge in kiddie pools provided for them to cool down.

Sociability note: This public dog park is small in size, which means your dog might not be able to make space from other pets if they aren’t interested in playing. You should only visit if you’re confident your pup is social and tolerant with unfamiliar dogs.

What some visitors have had to say about Schuylkill River Park:

"Has a city supplied dog fresh water watering area, the grass is artificial and really clean. There is also a separate area just as nice for the smaller breeds as well. Also has direct access to the Schuylkill River Trail. Didn't run into any aggressive dogs and all the dog owners were very nice to talk to." — Francis H

Fort DeSoto Dog Beach (public dog park)

  • Address: 3500 Pinellas Bayway South, Tierra Verde, Florida
  • Hours: 7 am to 8 pm
  • Off leash? Yes
  • Activities: Off-leash play, swimming, wading, walking, running
  • Entrance fee? $5 parking fee

According to the Pinellas County website, Fort De Soto has one of the only dog parks in Florida where dogs are allowed on the beach in a designated area. There are also two fenced-in areas with water stations near the beach for large and small dogs.

What some visitors have had to say about Fort DeSoto Dog Beach:

"Our dog loved it. I’m sure she would give it 5 stars! I wish we were able to swim in the water but you can’t because of the currents and that’s the ONLY thing that I don’t like about this dog beach. 5 of us went and the others would like to swim while the dog has her time." — Marcy

"This beach is amazing to enjoy the day with our dogs, bring an umbrella or a tent because you're gonna need it. The water is warm and clean, the people are so nice. Clearwater and all Florida is not dog friendly , we have to drive 45 min to the dog beach to enjoy the day with them just a few places are dog friendly, especially the places to stay." — Mireya M

Zilker Metropolitan Park (public dog park)

  • Address: 2100 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, Texas
  • Hours: 5 am to 10 pm unless otherwise posted
  • Off leash? Yes, in designated area
  • Activities: Hiking, sports, swimming, barbecuing, picnicking
  • Entrance fee? No

Zilker Metropolitan Park is known as Austin’s “most-loved” park. It’s 351 acres in total, featuring a large off-leash dog area — 45 acres where your pup can be free of a tether! — where you both can run and explore. This size makes it a better public dog park option than most smaller, fenced locations since there's more room to allow for natural canine communication between furry friends.

Note that this spot is not fenced, so you’ll want to make sure your dog has a solid recall before you visit.

What some visitors have had to say about Zilker Park:

"Dog friendly and lots of space to move even on a busy day. Great skyline view and ample parking. Bring friends or meet new ones. This is a popular spot to hang and chill. Mornings are slow and great for dogs/kids who like to run. Weekends can get busy, hang by the rock or volleyball courts if you enjoy a crowd. Otherwise tuck away somewhere and smoke some bud. All is chill at this vibrant park. Make sure to pack a blanket and sunscreen because you will probably want to hang around for a bit." — Mike S

Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park Off-Leash Area (public dog park)

  • Address: 12138 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, Texas
  • Hours: 5 am to 10 pm unless otherwise posted
  • Off leash? Yes, in designated area
  • Activities: Hiking, sports, swimming, biking, barbecuing, picnicking
  • Entrance fee? No

Metropolitan Park is a 239-acre park in North Austin. It has miles of paved trails where dogs should be on a leash — as well as a designated off-leash area where your pup can run and play freely, with two separate sections for small and large dogs that can help minimize the risk of prey drive related incidents. Stations are provided to deposit waste.

Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park also features a human swimming pool, children’s playground, and a handful of recreational facilities for sports like softball. There are several spots in the leashed area where you and your dog can enjoy the creek itself to cool down. All of this makes it a popular spot for locals and visitors alike.

Sociability note: The fenced, off-leash portion of Walnut Creek park is small in size, which means your dog might not be able to make space from other pets if they aren’t interested in playing. You should only visit if you’re confident your pup is social and tolerant with unfamiliar dogs.

What some visitors have had to say about Walnut Creek:

"Off leash trails make for lots of happy dogs. Good dog swimming spots after rain. The trails are shared with many mountain bikes." — Anthony B

"Loved the trail here! Some are narrow trails, but there's plenty of different routes you can take. Dog off leash and on leash areas as well. There are pretty areas you can hang out by the creek to relax, let the dog play, etc." — Monica

Ruppert Estate Farm (private Sniffspot dog park)

  • Location: Pittsgrove, New Jersey
  • Size: 15 acres
  • Fenced: No

Ruppert Estate Farm provides a whopping 15 acres of space for your canine companion to play freely while you take in nature together on a private hike. An easy trail with beautiful scenery ends at the perfect spot of the creek, with a different trail and scenes on the way back. 

Note that this area is not fenced, so you’ll want to make sure your dog has a solid recall before you visit.

Country Canine Getaway (private Sniffspot dog park)

  • Location: Holtwood, Pennsylvania
  • Size: 9 acres
  • Fenced: Yes

The Country Canine Getaway is a secure, fully fenced area with 9 acres for your dog to explore. It’s mostly flat with plenty of ground to cover however you see fit — walking and taking it in, running in a game of chase, or throwing a favorite toy.

Country Canine Getaway Pond (private Sniffspot dog park)

  • Location: Holtwood, Pennsylvania
  • Size: 5 acres
  • Fenced: Yes

A sister property to the Country Canine Getaway above, this fully fenced area includes a large pond where your dog can swim, wade, and enjoy all of the smells. 5 acres provide plenty of space to frolic.

North East Manor Doggie Heaven (private Sniffspot dog park)

  • Location: North East, Maryland
  • Size: 10 acres
  • Fenced: No

This beautiful manor is a 1700s historic home with 10 acres of private property for your dog to explore. The North East river borders one side to run and play — the railroad line runs along the other side but is fenced (providing an ideal training and desensitization opportunity). Rabbits, groundhogs, and squirrels are plentiful! Fields and woods are both available to walk through, depending on what type of terrain your pup is interested in. The host also provides a gazebo e for shade or inclement weather.

Note that this area is not fenced, so you’ll want to make sure your dog has a solid recall before you visit.

Mahalo Doggie Haven (private Sniffspot dog park)

  • Location: Bulverde, Texas
  • Size: 10 acres
  • Fenced: Yes

10 acres of freedom with both day and night time spots (especially wonderful since public Austin parks close in the evening). The host has an area lit up just for those late night visits! Lots of up and down hills that will give your dog the exercise they desire and the exploration they crave. During the spring there are beautiful wildflowers and butterflies that will take your breath away. 

Canyon Lake Acres (private Sniffspot dog park)

  • Location: Canyon Lake, Texas
  • Size: 150 acres
  • Fenced: Partially

A partially fenced area next to a big beautiful lake. This private dog park has a lot of space for walking and hiking — and if your dog loves swimming, there is nice access to the water.

Note that this area is only partially fenced, so you’ll want to make sure your dog has a solid recall before you visit.

Dogtopia Hillside (private Sniffspot dog park)

  • Location: Vancouver, Washington
  • Size: 10 acres
  • Fenced: Yes

Doptopia Hillside is a 10 acre property with both open grassy and wooded areas. There are slopes for your dog to run on or flatter areas if you’re looking to keep your pup from exerting themselves too much. It’s completely private and not viewable at all from neighboring properties, making it ideal for nervous pups.

Meracle Acres (private Sniffspot dog park)

  • Location: Dousman, Wisconsin
  • Size: 50 acres
  • Fenced: No

Meracle Acres is a huge private dog park with 50 acres of woods, trails, and ponds dotted throughout the property. The hosts note wild animal sightings sure to keep your dog on their toes, along with patches of grass, sand, and all the other midwest terrain you could dream of.

Note that this area is not fenced, so you’ll want to make sure your dog has a solid recall before you visit.

Maple Ridge Farms 100 Acre Woods (private Sniffspot dog park)

  • Location: Otsego, Michiga
  • Size: 100 acres
  • Fenced: No

Yes, you read that right — Maple Ridge Farms private Sniffspot features 100 acres of land for you and your dog to enjoy. You’ll have to come back multiple times to enjoy it all, and you won’t run into a single other soul! The trails are well maintained and often home to birds, deer, and plenty of other interesting wildlife.

Note that this area is not fenced, so you’ll want to make sure your dog has a solid recall before you visit.

Rip’s Romper Room (private Sniffspot dog park)

  • Location: Calhan, Colorado
  • Size: 40 acres
  • Fenced: No

Rip’s Romper Room private dog park boasts 40 acres where your dog can run free without worrying about encountering other pets or people. Enjoy Colorado’s stunning views and a wide open space for fetch, chase, or simply walking about.

Note that this area is not fenced, so you’ll want to make sure your dog has a solid recall before you visit.

Sniffspot Dog running on field

Get safe exercise for your dog by renting a private dog park near you

FAQ About Public Dog Parks in the United States

Are public dog parks good for dogs?

It is important for dogs to have off-leash exercise and plenty of opportunities to explore. But the free and open nature of public dog parks can have drawbacks.

Many dog behaviorists discourage visiting public dog parks and recommend Sniffspot's private dog parks. With Sniffspot, dogs can get their exercise safely — without worrying about other dogs, people, or potential disease transmission.

What are the biggest concerns with public dog parks?

While the popularity of dog parks has been skyrocketing in the United States, so has the number of professional trainers who caution against their use. The top risks associated with public off-leash dog parks are that:

  • Dog parks can create an unnatural social environment
  • Busy dog parks can overwhelm shy or nervous dogs
  • Dog parks can exacerbate problem behaviors like leash reactivity
  • Bad experiences at a dog park can also create behavior problems in the first place
  • Public dog parks can lead to physical injuries and illnesses

(Thankfully, private dog parks don’t have these concerns. Learn more about Sniffspot listings in your area here!)

How do public dog parks create an unnatural social environment for dogs?

Many owners are drawn to dog parks because they want to socialize their pets. We’re inundated with messages of the “perfect” friendly dog. Our social media feeds feature viral videos of animal best friends that echo the cutesy movies we loved as children — but they often show a false reality.

While dogs are social mammals, it’s typically not natural for them to regularly engage in play with strangers. Dog sociability can be viewed as a sliding scale:

  • Some dogs are truly dog social. This means they genuinely enjoy interaction with almost every dog they meet! We tend to think these dogs are more common than they really are — they’re the ones we most see out and about because they can handle the widest range of environments.
  • Most dogs are dog tolerant or dog selective. They don’t often seek out new friends, but they can comfortably interact with other dogs when needed after a proper introduction process. (You can read more about properly introducing dogs who don’t know each other in this article.)
  • Some dogs are dog aggressive. They might live with or know a few specific canine friends, but they don’t generally enjoy being around their own species.

Ultimately: It’s perfectly normal for our dogs to not want to play with other pets outside of our families. Renting a private dog park just for your dog and a few trusted friends might be the best option.

How can public dog parks overwhelm shy or nervous dogs?

Owners have great intentions when they bring their nervous dogs to the dog park in hopes of building social skills. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much for that plan to backfire.

Because dog parks are often busy, chaotic environments, it can be difficult to ensure all interactions are positive. Uncertain dogs are easily overwhelmed by large packs — if the space is fenced-in without adequate space to flee, these pets can quickly feel trapped or resort to the “fight” option of fight-or-flight reactions.

After a few stressful experiences, previously shy dogs can lose trust in their owners and even become fear aggressive.

Sniffspot takes these risks seriously. That’s why all of our private dog park listings are carefully booked to make sure there’s ample time between arrivals and departures — and you can filter listings by whether or not your dog is likely to see any other animals at all, even from afar.

Do public dog parks exacerbate problem behaviors like leash reactivity?

It’s not just nervous dogs who can be harmed by dog park visits — exuberant dogs might struggle in these environments, too.

Many social dogs struggle with excitement-based leash reactivity. When they see another dog, they want to say hi! When the leash prevents them from doing so, they experience something called barrier frustration. Eventually this boils over into an aggressive-looking display that makes it difficult to go on walks or explore public spaces.

While playing with other dogs can be an important part of a social pet’s fulfillment, too much unstructured off-leash time can have unintended consequences when they routinely practice running up to other dogs.

These risks are especially high when owners take their dogs to the dog park with the intent of tiring them out. Pets often arrive in an amped-up, energetic state of mind that impairs good decision making.

Can one bad experience at a public dog park have a lasting effect on a dog?

Even a previously social dog might develop a behavior issue (like fear reactivity) due to a negative interaction with another dog at a public dog park. Perhaps they get subtly bullied, feel overwhelmed, or are even bit — and they decide to preemptively try to keep other dogs away from them. Now your social dog is selective or even aggressive toward others.

While some dogs seem to let those negative interactions roll off their back (especially if they’ve been well socialized since puppyhood) others are affected in lasting ways. Each dog and situation is different.

What are the risks of physical injuries and illnesses at public dog parks?

Public dog parks also increase the chances of pets sustaining injury or developing infection.

Dog park injuries

While many dog-dog injuries at dog parks are accidental — canines can be mismatched in size, inadvertently break skin while wrestling with untrimmed nails, or simply come on too strong without realizing — others are overtly aggressive.

Even friendly dogs can start fights by failing to recognize another pet’s signals of discomfort. Resource guarding over food and toys can turn into a dangerous scuffle. Sometimes heightened arousal from being in a large social group elevates even a typically clear-headed dog’s prey drive.

Dog park illnesses

No matter how hard a city works to keep their parks clean, it’s impossible to fully eliminate all infection risk. This is especially true in dog-designated spaces that see dozens, or perhaps hundreds, of different canines each week.

There’s no way to confirm that every dog entering an off-leash space has been fully vaccinated — and bacterial diseases like leptospirosis often thrive in wet, muddy terrain that’s been torn up by paws.

Young puppies and elderly dogs have the greatest chance of getting sick.

Are all public dog parks dangerous?

While dog parks certainly come with their risks, it would be unfair to claim they’re always a bad idea. Public dog parks do serve an important community service in cities.

Some areas lend themselves to safe interactions better than others — large plots of land with acres to maneuver are less dangerous than fenced-in city runs, for example — and responsible owner involvement can make a world of difference.

What are public dog parks good for?

Well-maintained off-leash dog parks can provide dogs and owners with:

  • Biological fulfillment. At their best, dog parks provide an opportunity to fulfill our dogs’ natural canine instincts (running, sniffing, digging, etc.) without impacting others in shared spaces. This can be especially valuable if owners don’t have a yard of their own or walking trails nearby.
  • Playtime. While most dogs don’t want to play with strangers, some particularly outgoing canines might enjoy playing with brand-new friends. A small percentage of truly “dog social” dogs are good candidates for traditional dog parks.
  • Distraction training. Dog parks can be an ideal place to practice advanced training, like recalls, around the distractions of other dogs, people, and nature scents.
  • Owner connections. Many owners enjoy the human social aspect of the dog park — and public spaces enable those relationships without the costs commonly associated with formal group training classes or dog sports practices.

How can I keep my dog safe at a public dog park?

If choosing to use a public dog park, you can do a lot to manage your dog’s safety:

  • Make an honest assessment of your dog’s sociability. Are they one of the small portion of dogs that gets along with all other animals?
  • Make sure your dog is up to date on vaccines to protect them against any bugs that may be present in the park.
  • Choose an appropriate public dog park. Make sure that it is large enough and free from obvious hazards.
  • Assess the dog park and other owners before entering. Are there any maintenance issues in the park that could be a problem? Is it overly crowded? Are there owners that are not keeping a close eye on their dog? Are there dogs that could be an issue for your dog or others?
  • Keep a close watch and be an active part of your dog's play.

FAQ About Private Dog Parks in the United States

Are private dog parks safe?

While public dog parks have a number of safety issues, such as potentially aggressive dogs and disease transmission, Sniffspot dog parks are much safer.

Sniffspot bookings are private for just you and dogs you bring. We require every dog to be vaccinated (or have equivalent titers). All Sniffspot locations are vetted and reviewed by guests so you can find the perfect safe place for you and your dog.

How do I know if a Sniffspot private dog park works for my dog?

You can filter Sniffspot dog parks by fencing and distractions.

  • If your dog is still working on their recall, you can visit one of our fully fenced private dog parks.
  • If your dog is reactive to other dogs, you can visit one of our off-leash areas where there are no dogs audible or visible nearby. You can also filter locations to avoid other domestic animals and people.

We recommend reading reviews and reaching out to the host ahead of time with any questions!

Does the US have any fully fenced private dog parks?

Yes! Sniffspot has tons of fully fenced dog parks. Browse all fully enclosed options by clicking this link and filtering by fence height.

Can I rent a private field for my dog to run?

You sure can! There are Sniffspot fields all over the country where dogs can be off leash safely. Filter for flat, open spaces near you at this link.

Are there private dog agility courses for rent near me?

Sniffspot has dog parks with agility equipment and/or dog obstacles in most cities in the United States. You can filter for these spots at our main listings page.

Get your dog the safe enrichment they need by renting a Sniffspot

Sniffspot Dog swimming in pool
Haley photo

Haley

January 18, 2023

City Dog Parks

About Sniffspot

Sniffspot is a community marketplace that enables anyone to rent land by-the-hour as a safe and private dog park.

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