Dog Park Rules Sure are Tough

Have you ever noticed how every park has a list of rules right at the entrance?

It used to be that parks were where you could hang out and let it all hang out, have some fun and relax. Now, there are signs, big signs at that, listing everything you cannot do. Well, pity the poor dogs because their rules signs are even bigger than ours. Let’s poke a little fun at these wonderful things we call dog parks, shall we?

Now That’s Not Fair

Did you know the only pets allowed in a dog park are dogs? I guess that makes sense—it is called a DOG park—but what if they wanted to bring a friend? I’m allowed to bring my dog, my cat, or even my pet goat to my regular park, but if Fido has a buddy of a different species, well, we can’t have any of that.

Not in My Park

The Denver Parks and Recreation department, near my hometown, has in their list of rules and regulations which dog breeds and dispositions are not allowed in the park. Can you imagine if we switched that with humans? Aggressive people are not allowed, especially if you have been known to attack or bite other people. Now that’s not a bad idea. But not allowing a certain breed? That’s some segregation stuff right there.

The one about not allowing any females in heat, well I don’t even want to go there. But not allowing any persons who have not had their shots would be controversial these days as well. Any children too young to have had their shots yet are also not allowed, though they can go to public schools. You see where there would be problems here?

Signs, Signs, Everywhere are Signs

Denver also has a sign system that tells you the condition of the park. You see, one thing they do that might translate well to people parks is they expect the users to keep the place clean. They will actually close the thing down if it is not kept up to snuff. A green flag indicates the off-leash area is in good shape, yellow means it is in need of attention and a black flag means run for your life, the stench can kill. Okay, I made that last one up but a red flag means you guys did a lousy job and the park is closed until further notice.

Do Not Feed the Animals

Human food is not permitted however dog treats are allowed. I thought human food was dog treats; at least in my house it is. Treats are allowed though as they are helpful when used for training: something my wife discovered years ago for me. Forewarning, though: the old adage from 1st grade would apply here, “If you’re bringing treats, make sure you bring enough for everyone.”

Running Free Ain’t Cheap

Some dog parks, especially city parks, are free while others can cost you a pretty penny. Chatfield State Park outside of Denver charges, in addition to day fee of $8 a day or $70 yearly to get into the park, a $2 a day fee for using the dog area. These fees do get you 69 acres of wild, open, running room for you and your dog and I’m sure if he could talk, he’d tell you it’s worth every penny. Meanwhile Cherry Creek State Park, also on the outskirts of Denver offers 107 acres of fenced-in bliss along with water access making it the place to be seen in the canine scene.

A Little Privacy Here

There are private dog parks out there, I kid you not. I’m not sure if another member dog has to recommend your dog in order to get accepted but you do have to pay dues. In Columbus, Ohio for just $395 a year you get access to an 11-acre pine and oak filled park with its own “Golden Pond” for swimming. I wouldn’t name a lake that dogs swim in “Golden Pond” myself but hey, it’s their park, not mine. Owners Mark and Judy Wise say they don’t discriminate against any dogs which is very progressive and all-inclusive of them (seriously, though—awesome job, guys). At the Warren Street Dog Park in New York City, members pay $120 a year to enjoy a fenced in, paved lot with tented areas and a wading pool. Only in NYC would you pay $120 a year to walk your dog in a parking lot. I think the rules are similar to other dog parks but you never know; this is a private club in NYC. They probably have a dress code, a VIP section and yes, probably one heck of a rules sign.

Meet the Author: Michael Ryan

Michael Ryan is a full-time musician along with a humor, travel and outdoor recreation columnist. He's also an avid skier and golfer and has traveled extensively around the U.S, the Caribbean and Europe. His musical career takes him all over the U.S. and his wife drags him everywhere else. His weekly columns “The Life of Ryan” ran in the Transcript and Sentinel newspaper chain for several years and have been featured in the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News and Mile High Magazine. He is the co-founder, editor and humor columnist for and currently resides in Morrison, Colorado.

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