It is essential to have your dog well trained on leash if you are living in the city, both for the safety of the dog and the convenience of other pedestrians sharing the walkways. However, there are few things comparable to watching the unbridled joy of an unleashed dog running and playing happily outdoors. Make sure you have the $5 DFA tag that is good at any Chicago Dog Park and you’re good to go. Here are a few of the best areas to play with your pooch off leash in Chicago.
Montrose Dog Beach
Wilson Ave. and N. Simonds Drive
Chicago, IL 60640
If your dog enjoys playing with others, this is a fun place to spend some off-leash time. Parking is good, right off of the beach, but getting a spot may be tricky as the park is a popular spot. There are sticks to play with and lots of room to run, but beware, there is no place provided to shower off a sandy wet dog, so come prepared with some towels if you drove. There is a fence separating the non-dog beach area from the doggy section and monthly clean-ups are organized every third Saturday, keeping the park clean for the pups. Many people come to the beach without a dog of their own just to watch the joyful pups play.
W. Lawrence Ave. and N. Marine Drive
Chicago, IL 60640
A clean and friendly dog park that is connected to a larger ‘human’ park, Margate Park, Puptown is a perfect spot to take your dog before or after a longer leashed walk. There is plenty of space to play in the mostly asphalt play area and a large tree in the center with an area for humans to sit while they keep an eye on their dogs. Beware if you own a smaller dog or a puppy, however, because the enclosure is a fence with a small mesh guard around the bottom so smaller dogs can wiggle through if determined to reach something on the other side. Park clean-ups are held every other weekend and events such as costume night on Howl-O-Ween are regularly scheduled throughout the year.
Foster Avenue Dog Beach
5200 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60615
Foster Avenue Dog Beach is smaller than Montrose Dog Beach, but often slightly less crowded. Many owners enjoy the double-gated entrance that reduces the likelihood for accidental escape. After the swim and beach play, it’s an easy walk over to Soggy Paws on Leland Avenue where you can wash off your dog on your own. Because of the smaller size of the beach, it is easy to see from one end to the other and thus locate your dog easily if they are the type that enjoys a bolting run.
2645 N. Sheffield Ave.
Chicago, IL 60686
Wiggly Field is recognized as the first Chicago Dog Park by the Chicago Park District. The park is enclosed by a chain-link fence and is double gated to help prevent escape artists from doing their thing. Fresh water and a baggy supply are also available if owners forget to bring those items. There are trees, kiddie pools and plenty of places to run, including a designated training area and ‘time out’ area. There are many levels to the park rather than it just being a flat surface so dogs are able to tire themselves out climbing and jumping. Although most of the area is asphalt, there are wood-chipped areas for dogs to rest if necessary.
3220 Oakton St.
Skokie, IL 60076
A little further north in Evanston will bring you to Pooch Park. One of the best features of Pooch Park is a designated small dog area, which is a relief to many small dog owners who generally have to do a little more monitoring at dog parks to ensure that their pooch is not overrun by larger animals. Drinking fountains are provided for both people and dogs and there is also an agility area available. There are two double-gated entrances, picnic tables and plenty of room to run and play. There is a fee for using the park, but most regulars agree that it’s worth it for the over two and a half grassy acres of well maintained park to run and play in.
Meredith Lyons is an actor, competitive fighter and fitness instructor in Chicago who also owns an amazing cat named Jake. Meredith has been writing on Examiner as the Chicago Martial Arts Examiner since 2008. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.