Your Guide to Philadelphia's Dog Parks

January 03, 2020 | 10:22 AM

Exercise is a vital part of keeping your dog healthy. For owners in Philadelphia, dog parks provide a canine-specific space for your dog to romp and play, while also stretching those essential socialization muscles. 

“In Philly, we’re spoiled with dog parks! Not only are dog parks beneficial for giving us humans a break in our days, but regular exercise is a key component in keeping a steady, healthy weight in dogs,” says Dr. Bernstein, a veterinarian at Vetter Pet Care. “Continued socialization with their dog peers of all shapes, sizes, and colors is also critical in the development process! However, be sure to remain vigilant of other dogs that aren’t the friendliest in the park and may pose a safety risk for yours.”

Read on to learn more about some of Philly’s best dog parks, as well as some tips for making your first – or hundredth – visit the best time your dog has ever had.

Schuylkill River Dog Park Run - Fitler Square: 25th and Spruce Streets

State-of-the-art turf grass, running water spouts, and ample space for chasing and fetching are this dog park’s claims to fame. Located just off the Schuylkill River Trail, this dog park is in a prime spot for outdoor recreation for dogs and their owners alike.

Like many newer dog parks, the Schuylkill River Dog Park Run is separated into two sections – one for large dogs and a second for smaller ones. Of Philly’s small dog parks sections, this is certainly one of the most sizeable, as well as well shaded! Owners often donate kiddie pools for canines to keep extra cool in the summer, too. 

Seger Dog Park - Washington Square West: 1001 Rodman St.

This is a dog park with a lively social scene. Look forward to yearly events including Woofstock, a low-key weekly concert series in the summer, as well as Howl-o-Ween and other holiday events. At Seger Dog Park, you’ll get to socialize with other owners as your pups play in this large, woodchip-coated space for small and large dogs alike. This combination dog park is great for small dogs who like to chase their larger canine peers, but owners with pooches who are pickier about their friends may want to use discretion. 

Penn’s Landing Dog Park/Market Street Dog Run - Old City: 1 North Delaware Ave.

Beautiful views and cool breezes from the Delaware River set this dog park apart from the pack. Your dog will enjoy shaded playtime in this gravel park with dogs from Old City and surrounding areas, with the added potential for some visitors from other neighborhoods – its prime location near Penn’s Landing and Spruce Street Harbor Park in summer makes it a high-traffic area for all sorts of dogs. Just watch out for crowds and events that may include loud music or even fireworks.

The dog park is long and narrow, making for a great place to chase a ball. But a very condensed section for small dogs provides more of a calm hangout space. Among segregated dog parks, it’s one of the city’s tiniest for small dogs.

Palmer Doggie Depot - Fishtown: 37 East Palmer Street

Located in the heart of one of Philly’s most bustling neighborhoods, this dog park provides a valuable space for owners just as unique as their dogs. Expect to see a combination of veteran and first-time dog owners with a mix of breeds from Frenchies to pitties. This shared space for large and small dogs is primarily dirt and cobblestone – a unique option for dogs tired of turf grass or wood chips. There’s also a running water spout for drinks between play sessions. 

Mario Lanza Dog Park - Queen Village: 200 Catherine Street

A tight-knit community of dog owners keep this dog park tidy. Moderately sized with gravel and dirt, this dog park is a great place for small and large dogs to play together on some natural turf. Not only that, but it doubles as a great social space – Mario Lanza Dog Park is the place to be for a number of can’t-miss events, including the annual K9 Carnival and yappy hours throughout the year.

Piazza Dog Park - Northern Liberties: 156 West Widely Street

A unique mix of turf grass and gravel help this dog park stand out from others of its kind, while a tall metal sculpture of what seems to be a rocketship help it fit right in with the NoLibs neighborhood. This space offers plenty of shade trees, and there are a few benches in the large-dog section. This dog park also offers an extraordinarily small separate space for small dogs, about as big as the double-gated safety section for entering the large-dog side.

Members-Only Dog Parks

Most Philadelphia dog parks are volunteer-run nonprofit organizations or funded by the city’s park services. That means, just like a regular park, that all amenities are public. If you’re looking for a slightly different dog park experience, there are a handful of members-only dog parks in the city. These include Orianna Hill Dog Park in Northern Liberties, Roxborough Dog Park, and Green Street Dog Park in Spring Garden, to name a few.

Tips for a Healthy and Happy Dog Park Visit

Dog parks are shared by thousands of owners and their dogs, so it’s the easiest to enjoy them when everyone plays by the rules. It’s never a bad idea to familiarize yourself with some standard dog park etiquette. It’ll keep playtime as fun and safe as ever.

Bring proof of vaccination

Nearly all dog parks only permit puppies past four months of age to enter, as this is the time at which most puppies will have received all their shots. It goes without saying, then, that your adult dog also needs to have its rabies and all other appropriate vaccinations before playing at any dog park. Additionally, while it is by no means a rule, it is also a very good idea to only bring your dog to a dog park if he is receiving flea, tick, and heartworm preventatives.

Never treat a dog that isn’t yours

While it may be tempting to slip a treat to the sweet-eyed dog sitting pretty next to yours, don’t do it. Why? Consider diabetes, food sensitivities and allergies, prescription diets, and more. What may seem like a harmless treat to you may trigger a whole host of health problems for someone else’s dog. If you want to show your pup’s new best friend some love, a simple pat on the back will do.

Leave the toys at home

Many dog parks have rules about bringing any toys aside from the standard tennis ball. In addition to preventing potential choking hazards, it also cuts down the risk for aggressive behavior related to resource guarding. In short: if there aren’t any toys, dogs can’t fight over them. And while your dog may not mind sharing his toys, others may not be so kind. At the dog park, other dogs are the most important playthings.