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SubjectsParks and Recreation › Off-Leash Areas and Dog Parks: Planning and Policy
Updated 05/2012

Off-Leash Areas and Dog Parks: Planning and Policy



The Trust for Public Land published its report, 2011 City Park Facts (Adobe Acrobat Document), in November 2011. From the data, USA Today noted, the fastest-growing urban park type in the country is now dog parks. It noted there were 569 off-leash dog parks in the 100 largest cities in 2010, a 34 percent jump in five years. Parks overall increased only three percent in that time. This page provides reference sources, selected examples from Washington local governments, rules and regulations for the use of off-leash areas, and some of organizations that sponsor and/or support the development of public off-leash areas. If your jurisdiction has information to share about the process of creating a dog park or an off-leash area, please contact the Page Editor.

About Creating Off-Leash Areas and Dog Parks

  • Creating Dog Parks without Rancor, by Peter Harnik and Cerise Bridges, Trust for Public Land, 2005
  • Ruff Housing: Keeping the Peace at Dog Parks, by Jess Clarke, Parks and Recreation, July 2010
  • Articles from Park and Recreation Magazine - These articles are no longer available from the NFPA Website, but the articles may still be of interest. They are available to MRSC's clients through MRSC Library Loan.
    • Danger in the Dogpark, by Clare Leschin-Hoar, Parks and Recreation, July 2005 - Communities with dogparks should see safety as a major priority.
    • Fighting for Fido, by Clare Leschin-Hoar, Parks and Recreation, January 2005 - When park space is limited, who wins in a battle for the dogpark?
    • From Animal Advocates to Allies, by Clare Leschin-Hoar, Parks and Recreation, January 2006
    • How To Break Up a Dog Fight, Park and Recreation Web Extras, January 2006
    • A Walk in the Park, by Rachel Roberts, Parks and Recreation, January 2007 - Dogparks look for land in tight spaces.

Planning and Design

  • Establishing a Dog Park in Your Community (Adobe Acrobat Document), American Kennel Club, 2008
  • Doggedly Pursuing Solutions: Planning and Regulating Dog Parks, Zoning News, September 2001 (Available through Library Loan)
  • How to Build a Dog Park in Your Community, Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA (San Mateo County, CA)
  • Sammamish - Beaver Lake Park Off-Leash Area Project Outline - Project was 2007-2008
  • Shoreline
    • Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Off-Leash Areas - See Reference Documents: Concept Designs for approved sites, History of Off-Leash Dog Park Development, City Council staff report, Letter of Determination for Saltwater Park, Final Environmental Report for Saltwater Park
    • Shoreline Staff Memo (Adobe Acrobat Document) for council meeting of March 8, 2010 re: Ordinance No. 573 - Establishing Permanent Off-Leash Dog Park
  • Portland, OR Off-Leash Program - Includes links to laws and rules, locations, frequently asked questions, and historical program background, off-leash advisory committee minutes
  • Sacramento County, CA Regional Parks - Dogs
    • Off-Leash Task Force Report (Adobe Acrobat Document), 2005 - Efforts stemming from an off-leash task force include development of conceptual design standards, possible funding sources and potential sites for off-leash dog parks in Sacramento County
  • Salt Lake County, UT, Parks and Recreation Salt Lake County Off-Leash Dog Park Master Plan (Adobe Acrobat Document), 2008 - This master plan represents a culmination of the cooperative efforts of a stakeholder advisory committee, representatives of interest groups, organizations, local municipalities, many residents, County Parks and Recreation staff, and Logan Simpson Design.
  • Who Let the Dogs Out&?, by James Krohe Jr., Planning, February 2005 (Available through Library Loan)

Washington Local Governments with Off-Leash Areas and Dog Parks

A few examples of off-leash areas or dog parks have been included. Some websites provide a history of the dog park, most all provide rules and regulations, and some provide information about organizations that provide support for the park.

  • Bremerton Bark Park - Includes rules and regulations, design elements, and fund raising
  • Centralia Dog Park Open Year-Round (Adobe Acrobat Document), Your City, January-February 2009
  • Everett Parks and Recreation Off-Leash Parks
  • King County Marymoor Park Off-Leash - Description
  • Kitsap Dog Parks - Kitsap Dog Parks is citizen group partnering with county
  • Lakewood Fort Steilacoom (regional) - A 22-acre off-leash dog park at Fort Steilacoom Park was created from financial contributions from the County and two neighboring cities (University Place and Steilacoom), and a very active community group called Protect our Pets (POP), who raised funds and also played a lead role in design and park management.
  • Lakewood Resolution No. 2008-16 - Expresses support for the creation of an off-leash dog park within the City of University Place, passed 05/18/2008
  • Puyallup Off-Leash Dog Park
  • Seattle
  • Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service (SCRAPS) Patricia Simonet Laughing Dog Park - A collaborative effort between SCRAPS and Spokane County's Parks and Recreation Department. The park is run by dog-loving volunteers and funded solely by donations.
  • Tacoma Metropolitan Park District Off-Leash Dog Park - Rogers Park
  • Vancouver-Clark County Parks and Recreation Off-Leash Dog Areas

Leash Regulations for Parks and Other Public Property

  • Bellingham - Whatcom County Humane Society Park Ordinances - The purpose of this information is to acquaint citizens with the city ordinances relating to having animals within City of Bellingham park facilities
  • Clark County Code Ch. 8.15 - Dog Leash Areas
  • Edmonds Municipal Code Sec. 5.05.060 - Dogs on Public Grounds - Allows dogs to be exercised on leashes in specific areas
  • Everett Municipal Code Sec. 9.06.060 - Animals At Large - Sec. E provides that the parks director may designate certain areas in parks as allowing dogs and/or other pets to be off-leash.
  • Lakewood Municipal Code Sec. 8.76.330 - Pets in City Park Facilities - Allows pets only in designated areas, pets must be on leash.
  • Redmond Caring to be Dog Friendly (Adobe Acrobat Document), Redmond Focus, Spring 2006
  • Seattle Municipal Code Sec. 18.12.080 - Animals Running At Large Prohibited - Lists areas where dogs may run at large and regulations
  • Sequim Dog Park - Volunteer run dog park created in Carrie Blake Park
  • Skagit County Code Sec. 9.41.150 - Pets and Animals in County Parks - Leash required at all times
  • Spokane Municipal Code Sec. 10.03.110 - Animals Prohibited in Riverfront Park and City Streets Authorized to be Used for Special Events
  • Vancouver Municipal Code
    • Sec. 8.24.110 - Animals Running at Large - Provides exceptions for off-leash areas and regulations
    • Sec. 8.24.120 - Leash Requirement - Requires leash except for specific conditions including off-leash areas

Advocacy and Support Organizations

  • Citizens for Off-Leash Areas (COLA) - A non-profit formed to obtain and maintain off-leash dog exercise areas in Seattle. In June 1996 COLA entered into a formal agreement with the City of Seattle to steward Seattle's off-leash areas. In September 1997, the Seattle City Council voted 9-0 to establish permanent off-leash dog areas, giving COLA the responsibility of stewarding the sites for the Department of Parks and Recreation.
  • - Personal website which lists news, events and links parks in the Seattle area and off-leash areas in Washington State
  • FETCH - An organization dedicated to providing dog owners of Island County with areas where they are free to exercise their canine friends off-leash without disturbing others. In partnership with the Island County Parks Department, FETCH maintains five off-leash parks on Whidbey Island
  • Serve Our Dog Areas - A non-profit organization formed to provide ongoing support and stewardship for the Off-Leash dog exercising areas at Marymoor Park in Redmond and Grandview Park in SeaTac
  • Kitsap Dog Parks, Inc. - Stewards of Bandix, Howe Farm, and Silverdale Dog Parks
  • Protect Our Pets (POP) - Formed to help develop, maintain and promote the off-leash dog park at Fort Steilacoom Park in Lakewood

Need more information?

Feel free to Ask MRSC. Washington cities, counties, and our contract partners can call or email MRSC for more information and advice - free of charge.