New York and San Francisco claim to have the nation's oldest bark parks (both opened about three decades ago), but spacious, amenity-filled puppy playgrounds and bow-wow beaches have been opening across the country.
There are close to a thousand dedicated dog parks in America today, some just a simple, fenced dog run with a hose for drinking water, others boasting paddling pools, time-out pens, agility courses, wash-off showers, double gates, and free poop-disposal bags. To get a 5-paw rating, you have to throw in a puppy party, exercise area, and a climbing rock or two:
- Fort Woof (Fort Worth, TX: www.fortwoof.org)—Five acres of off-leash fun, extended daily hours, faux fire hydrants, and a separate area for small dogs. Best of all, the Barktoberfest in October attracts thousand of partying pooches to Fort Woof.
- Jackass Acres K-9 Korral (New River, AZ)—An amenity-rich, 2.5-acre dog park with water fountains, benches for owners, plus decorative artwork. It stands out as one of the first "green" dog parks. The facility was created using recycled AstroTurf, eco-friendly building materials, solar-powered lighting, and many other green features.
- Paw Playground (Tierra Verde, FL)—Treat your best friend to a wide open run on the picturesque, white sand beaches of this fine park. With complete access to Florida's Gulf shores and water, he'll be able to work off those extra hound pounds. There's a separate fenced area for small dogs, too, plus doggie showers to wash off the sand and salty surf.
- Bow-Wow Beach (Stow, OH: www.bowwowbeach.org)—Seven acres of grassy knolls to romp on, a sandy beach adjacent to an accessible 3-acre lake, a dog-washing station, plus six waste deposit facilities make this the premier dog park in Ohio.
- Silverlake Dog Park(Los Angeles, CA)—This is where Hollywood's hottest hounds go to see and be seen. Grass and soft surface dirt areas offer plenty of room to stretch-and-fetch at this glamorous 1.25-acre rover run. It's also known for its clever newsletter, The Leak, issued monthly. Dog obedience classes and social events are also held here regularly.
Chances are there's a nifty dog park in your area, too. Finding one is easy with a quick online search. Then head out and have a great time!