Dog friendly areas proposals, process

including for Harold Washington Park

This page is brought to you by Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, its Parks Committee and its website, Contact us. Contact the Parks chair as above attn: Gary Ossewaarde. Contact Harold Washington
Help support HPKCC's work by joining the Conference.

Parks home. Park Issues. Harold Washington Park. Jackson Park- creating a dog park- see in Jackson Bark BUT (against) Dogs and Wooded Island, natural areas. Nichols Park home-certified dog and owner movement describe other approaches and issues related to dogs and dog opportunities in local parks. Local pet needs, services and websites are in Helpline. Chicago Park District liaison/planner for dog friendly areas: Robert Foster.
Hyde Park Dog Run group website- has a lot on it! D.A.W.G (Site ) citywide dog friendly area group website (look for Dog Advisory Work Group there). Park Distict on dog areas and resources-

Come to groundbreakings for two new south side dog parks on May 4 2019, Saturday
1 pm 4153 S. Vincennes. 3 pm 3906 S. Lake Park Ave.

Department of Legislative and Community Affairs Update October 2016: Please welcome the newest addition to the Department of Legislative and Community Affairs Wade Chan. Wade will be working with the Dog Friendly Areas and with Volunteer Groups. DFA’s please contact Wade Chan with any questions: or 312-742-4628.

Dogs are prohibited in Natural Areas, which includes all of Wooded Island (including the Japanese Garden) and the Bobolink Meadow even on a leash. There is a minimum fine of $300. It's ordinance VII.B10a.

Of course everyone thinks their dog is an exception but a study in Biological Letters by Peter B. Banks and Jessica V. Bryant, showed that walking large or small dogs on leash made a huge difference. "Regardless of the type of area, dog walking led to a 35 percent reduction in the number of bird species and a 41 percent reduction in overall bird numbers, compared with the control. (People walking alone caused some disturbance, but less than half that caused by people with dogs.)" the dogs are predators to the birds even if yours is not so much.

Migratory birds are at grave risk of extinction, these are natural areas to give them somewhere to be on one of the great migration routes, they need all the help they can get, so please choose to walk your dogs on the 600+ other acres of the park.


At the HPKCC public discussion on What's Right/What's Wrong with HPK, October 2005, one specific request was made for a dog park.

A list of dog parks in Chicago. Some may not be official and sanctioned or full facilities (ie park vs just run). There are many additonal places where dogs on or off leash gather.

Anderson (Fred) Park- 1611 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago

Bartelme, Mary Park- 115 S. Sangamon Street, Chicago

Challenger Playlot Park- 1100 W. Irving Park Road, Chicago

Churchill Field Playlot Park- 1825 N. Damen Ave., Chicago

Coliseum Park- 1466 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago

Grant Park- 951 S. Columbus Drive, Chicago

Hamlin Park- 3035 N. Hoyne Ave., Chicago

Jackson Bark- 6000 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago (temporary permit only)

Margate Park Fieldhouse- 4900 N. Marine Drive, Chicago

Noethling Playlot Park- 2645 N. Sheffield Ave., Chicago

Norwood Park- 5801 N. Natoma Ave., Chicago

Park No. 511 Dog Park- 630 N. Kingsbury, Chicago

Park No. 551- 353 N. DesPlaines Street, Chicago

Park No. 569- 1358 W. Monroe, Chicago

Portage Park­­- 4100 N. Long Ave., Chicago

Pottawattomie Park- 7340 N. Rogers Ave., Chicago

River Park- 5100 N. Francisco Ave., Chicago

Walsh Playground Park- 1722 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago

Wicker Park- 1425 N. Damen Ave., Chicago

by Hassan, 6800 S. Oglesby

Meetings, classes etc..


Opening for a dog park in Jackson Park?

The identified site that has been visited by JPAC's commiteee, Hyde Park Bark and others is an abandoned handball/tennis court south of the 59th Marina west of Lake Shore Drive. There has been internal agreement, petitions are being circulated, and money set aside. Accounts are now being set up and approvals sought. Site improvements were made and much is approved by the Park District. The issue now is about $8,000 needed to run a water line doubling for a new nearby community garden and for the dog park including adequate water fountain with basin for dogs and a hose hookup. Contact Louise McCurry at 773 844-2225 or

However, JPAC still opposed dog running and off leash and, in sensitive places, dogs at all in natural areas such such as Wooded Island (sensitive including the meadow/former Rose Garden) and Bobolink Meadow. JPAC certainly agrees that normally dog-walkers are a great crime deterrent.
One place on the map below suggested for a dog park, the northeast corner of the park, is off limits because of playgrounds and proximity to high rises and to the new Lab School Early Learning Center.

Louise McCurry (JPAC President and lead of the Jackson Bark) wrote May 28, 2011

There is enormous interest in creating a Dog Park in Jackson Park. Of those petitions that have been turned in already, more that 700 people have expressed their enthusiastic support. Many of those who signed the petition and attended the previous meetings, have pledged to join the Dog Park Committee and act as Dog Park Stewards, which are important steps in successfully creating and maintaining a dog park in accordance with the Chicago Park District Dog Friendly Areas Permit Plan ( as required by the Cook County Animal and Rabies Control Ordinance ( Additional Committee members and Stewards are needed.

The Jackson Park Advisory Council (JPAC) is spearheading this effort, but it cannot do this alone. Your efforts and involvement with JPAC are vital to its success. Many dog park enthusiasts in the community have attended the monthly JPAC meeting to express their support, volunteer, offer suggestions and obtain information. JPAC encourages all interested to do so as well.

JPAC thinks parks are for the dogs.

The Jackson Park Advisory Council will hold a community meeting to discuss creating an off-leash dog park. "We are exploring the possibility of opening a dog park," said Louise McCurry, president of JPAC. "Dogs need 30 minutes to one hour of exercise each day."

For several years Hyde Park dog owner have advocated for off-leash dog parks. Most recently, the Hyde Park Bark Alliance, a group of about 20 resident dog owners, hosted a "Halloween Paws Parade" in 2009 and again in 2010 to raise awareness for the need for a dog park in the neighborhood. The group, which held a parade at 51st and hyde Park Boulevard in Harold Washington Park, could not get former Ald. Toni Preckwinkle's support in making that area of the park an off-leash area.

This effort recurs from time to time: Hyde Park Bark Alliance, a new group, has become active and seeks a dog park in Harold Washington Park. In October 2009, they met with aldermen in a public meeting and held a petition-gathering Halloween pet parade. They had little support from aldermen and in general for community watchdog groups and organizations. We will see what develops with a new Harold Washington Park Council forming in late 2010. Contact Pamela Amos.

Changing rules for dog friendly areas

Effective September 15, 2005, all dog friendly areas in Cook County come under full regulation, permitting, and strictly enforced rules of the Cook County Department of Animal Care and Rabies. Not only is the County charging the government body for permits and certification but the users/user groups as well. The Chicago Park District will charge users $35, partly because if dogs are found in violation in the dfa, the user and the Park District will be fined $500 for each violation.

At a special June 6 Harold Washington Park meeting, the Dog Run group presented ideas and 3 Hyde Park locales for a DFA, and rolled out its residents surveys (see in this page).

Find the rules and path to dog park creation: Chicago Park District Dog Friendly Areas Permit Plan (
Cook County Animal and Rabies Control Ordinance (


Other, older information

What is this about, who are HydeBark DOG?

In April and May 2005 a group called originally called the Hyde Park Dog Run and now HydeBark D.O.G (Dog Owners and Guardians) outlined its hopes for a dog park in Harold Washington Park and hear from Park District staff the requirements for such. This will be one of the topics at an expanded meeting, on the Park, of the Advisory Council with Alderman Toni Preckwinkle (4th). The group was advised in the meantime to look for two or more available (without other plans and relatively underutilized) sites that can be fenced in, having space, water, distance from heavily used park facilities or nearby residential et al buildings and ability to be fenced in and hard-surfaced (which in turn can have pea-gravel or some softener better for dog paws). The group was also advised that they be prepared to bring to the project a large contingent of volunteers and fundraisers committed for the long haul and prepared to build very broad and deep community and stakeholder consensus. We were shown the impressive documentation presented by Skinner Park neighbors for their dog park. The time frame was said to be long. PD officials closed the door on "off leash" hours except in a fenced in and managed area. Some of the dog watchers say that they are targeted by police above criminals. Note that a good estimate for community match is $50-80,000.

Editor's note: The group's first priority was in Harold Washington Park, sort of near the Drive and south of 50th Street extended, and likely to gain at least acquiescence, maybe enthusiastic support, of the advisory council, but maybe opposition from nearby high rises. The other two sites, in this editor's rudimentary investigation, will meet with resistance or be deemed unsuitable, especially that near 56th and Stony, or especially in the case of that north of the Point, require approval of the Chicago Plan Commission.

The 3 sites are each c. 30,000 square feet, to meet the expectations of the Park District and provide both buffer and ample room for dogs to run and play. Co-chair Cathy Niden was quoted in the Herald as saying that "All of these spots are the stepchildren of larger parks." Top

Later direction

After careful thought and research, the majority of the group has backed off from seeking a Dog Friendly Area in a lakefront park in the near future. They will pursue other ways to bring dog owners and dogs together for positive and responsible experiences.

According to the August 17 Herald, co-chair Laura Santos told the Harold Washington Council th the group is "stepping back" after viewing actual parks on the north side.The group is now looking at education, including how to approach dogs and making local parks more dog-friendly. Among ideas being considered is seeking a change in the law to allow certification of dogs and their owners to have dogs off leash under certain conditions in parks.


Here is the contact list, map of possible sites and Survey of HydeBark D.O.G

HydeBark D.O.G (Dog Owners and Guardians), "bringing together the community, dogs and their guardians for responsible care and recreational play." Contact this site (if it's still alive) if you need telephones and addresses.

Map with What is a Dog Friendly Area, Who are we, Suggested areas.


A designated space specifically designed for use by dogs and their owners for off leash recreation, socialization, exercise, and training.

Who are we?

We are a group of dog owners looking for input and support for the establishment of a Dog Friendly Area (DFA) in Hyde Park. We want to know if others are interested in pursuing this idea. Your input will help us measure the level of interest in our community. Please fill out this survey and mail or fax it to us at 773 955-7511.

Suggested Areas

The Chicago Park District requires that we show a desire and need for a particular area. We need to demonstrate commitment and support from the community (including local businesses and people without dogs). Three (3) areas are being suggested: near 50th and the Drive, northeast of the Point on the east side of the Drive, and near Stony and 57th Drive in Jackson Park.

HydeBark D.O.G. map of  potential DFA site

Community Input Survey

Printable page 1. Printable page 2.

HydeBark DOG input survey p 1 HydeBark DOG input survey p. 2

Dog Friendly Area Usage Survey

Printable page.

HydeBark DOG site use survey


Letter from the Hyde Park Dog Run group to the Hyde Park Herald

May 4, 2005. By Wally Jonas

For the frustrated Hyde Park dog walkers, relief may be on the way. An organization is forming to explore ways to legally give the dogs exercise off leash in Hyde Park. One possible site is in a redesigned Harold Washington Park.

The group, called Hyde Park Dog Run, has opened a web site at A forum and message board offer dates for meetings and optional ideas such as an enclosed dog run or possible "off leash permitted" hours.

Dog watchers run afoul of the law by allowing their dogs off leash in order to exercise and socialize. Large dogs especially need exercise to stay healthy and are let off leash to chase tennis balls, Frisbees and sticks. Dog owners run the risk of a large fine if they attempt to exercise their dog off leash.


Position of the Council chair Irene Sherr, April 25, 2005:

In response to the interest at the [April] meeting we have requested representatives from the Chicago Park District attend and discuss policies and procedures related to the establishment of “Dog Friendly Areas” [at the May meeting].

It is conceivable that a Dog Friendly Area could be included in Harold Washington Park. It is not however, the function of the Advisory Council to ensure its creation or operation. There must be an organized group dedicated to this purpose willing to take on this initiative. There is an organization that among other things is an excellent resource on this issue. The group is called DAWG – The Dog Advisory Work Group –, and I encourage all of you interested in this particular issue to visit their website.

Irene J. Sherr, Community Counsel, 5100 S. Hyde Park Blvd. Chicago, IL 60615 773-324-8614


Letter to the Herald in April by Joyce Norman and Jules Quinlan, Herald coverage of the April Advisory Council meeting.

Letter to the Herald April 13, 2005: Even dogs wanna play

by Joyce M. Norman and Jules Quinlan

Thanks to the Herald's article about the master plan for Harold Washington and Burnham Parks. Over half of the 30 people attending the April 4 meeting of the Harold Washington Advisory Council committee were dog owners. They asked that an enclosed dog play area be part of the plan, which proposes improvement and renovation to the park area west of Lake Shore Drive from 50th to 55th Streets.

The attractive drawing of the master plan, compliment of Skidmore, Owens and Merrill, who is donating input, raise both positive and negative issues. Positively, there is the prospect of a more beautiful and useful park area. Negatively, as more people are drawn to the park, noise, parking and cleaning become bigger problems.

The meeting was dominated by the dog owners who strongly feel that a more useful park must include and enclosed dog play area. Dog owners are not only among the biggest users of the parks but also "contribute" the most money to the city, given the mandatory ticketing for dog leash violations. Other city violations in the parks are often overlooked or simply result in warnings. Even the potentially dangerous violations of cars being driven and parked in the parks at night do not warrant the issuance of tickets. For dog owners it's a different story.

The other issue raised at the meeting was the stringent process required for getting a dog park. To date there are zero dog parks in Hyde Park despite efforts by dog owners going back five years. Other park users, like tennis players and the model yacht enthusiasts have not had to face such obstacles, nor have they been asked to contribute half of the cost of development and construction of their facilities.*

The chairman of the Harold Washington Advisory Committee, Irene Sherr, was most accommodating about listening to the dog owners and inviting them to regularly participate in meetings. She was also very forthcoming about putting everything in perspective. As yet, there is no private, nor community, nor city money to realize the master plan, and the park district has not yet committed itself to the plan.

The park district has been working in Harold Washington Park in recent weeks, putting up the tennis court nets early, pruning every bush in the park, adding mulch and cutting up tree stumps and renovating the bathrooms. Further, there was a hint that the park district may be considering the needed resurfacing of the tennis courts which are used for practice and meets for both Kenwood and King High Schools. There was also talk of stopping the leaks in the model yacht basin before refilling it.

The way for much more to happen, including even the realization of the master plan with the addition of t he dog play area, is for more people around the park and in the community to attend the meetings of the Harold Washington Advisory Committee.

[*Ed. note: several projects in area parks have been done with about half or significantly more community or other private contribution including Kenwood Park playground and gateway, the Fountain of Time sculpture and basin and Allison Davis Garden in Washington Park, major facilities including the Skating Rink in Midway Plaisance and the track in Jackson Park. Tennis groups will have to contribute in Harold Washington if the courts are to be rebuilt as opposed to resurfaced. I know of no effort to put in new facilities for model yacht enthusiasts, although there is talk of sealing cracks, prudent if water is to be put in the basin. Gary Ossewaarde]

Herald coverage, April 20, 2005

Dog owners crowded the April 4 Harold Washington Park Advisory Council meeting to lobby for a dog run to be included in a recently unveiled master plan. To get approval for an enclosed dog area, the park district is looking for a long-term commitment from dog owners to help with maintenance and to raise dollars to help get it built, said Arnold Randall, the park district's planning director.

"These can be controversial," Randall said. "[The approval process] is extensive and it's designed to be that way."

Dog owners who live near Grant Park spent years lobbying and raising money for a dog run before winning approval. The 13,000-square-foot dog run, nicknamed Grant Bark Park, will cost $150,000 and is set to be built this spring. Owners of dogs caught without leashes in Chicago parks can face fines of $500 or more.


May 2005 coverage, comments

Hyde Park Herald, May 11, 2005. By Mike Stevens. Local dog walkers long for leashless laws

Tired of leashes and hefty fines when they forgo them, an organized group of dog owners began (or at least took a look at) the lengthy process last week of winning city approval to build a fenced-in dog area in Hyde Park. Almost two-dozen dog lovers looking to let their pooches run free filled the May 2 Harold Washington Park Advisory Council meeting to quiz park officials on the requirements and procedures for creating a dog run in or near the park, 5200 S. Hyde Park Blvd.

The first requirements: patience and perseverance. A Hyde Park dog run could take at least a year and a half from the first organized efforts to ground-breaking, Chicago Park District Manager Bob Foster estimated.

the thirty-plus members o the yet-to-be-named group must survey possible locations for the dog run, raise half of the possible $150,000 cost for construction and organize months of meeting to gauge community support and solicit design guidance.

"I'm glad there are so many people interested," advisory council President Irene sherr said. "To make it a reality, it definitely takes a lot of work."

Jules Quinlan, who has been ticketed twice for letting his two dogs Bear and Koro scamper about leashless, chaffed at the labor-intensive approval process. "Tennis players don't have to go through all this and [dog owners] are big users," Quinlan said.

The laborious process is meant to ensure there is demand for a dog run and that residents will share maintenance responsibilities--such as washing down and bleaching the hard-surface area required at city dog runs-with the park district, Foster said.

Laura Santos said group members, many still smarting from tickets that reach $500, have already begun work launching a website ( and establishing fund-raising and steering committees. "We have our fair share of tickets. It is just very frustrating to not have a place to run our dogs," Santos said. At 70 pound, Santos' hard-galloping German Shepherd /Labrador mix Bruno needs more exercise than the Hyde Park homemaker said she can manage while keeping him tethered to the city-mandated six feet of leash. "Big dogs need a little running off-leash," Santo said. : There is only so much bike-riding I can do."

In Chicago, that can only happen legally in designated dog runs or at certain beaches at specific times. Most of Chicago's existing dog runs, save the recently approved Grant Park Bark Park, serve North Siders.

Christina Miler, who lives near the park, attended last week's meeting despite her dog's recent death in anticipation of eventually buying a new do. "[Dog runs] wouldn't exist if there wasn't a need for them," Miller said. " Why can't we have one on the South Side?"

Foster expects a new dog run at Harold Washington Park or just south of 53rd Street in Burnham Park would draw dog owners from throughout the south Side and perhaps the suburbs because of its proximity to the lake. Many of those people will likely drive[,] immediately r[a]ising concerns among some at last week's meeting about worsening east Hyde Park's existing parking crunch.


Step by Step Guide to Creating Dog Friendly Areas

Initial statement. Chicago City Ordinance requires dogs to be on leashes in public areas for the protection of fellow residents, as well as the dogs themselves. To offer the numerous dogs in the city some room to move, Mayor Richard M. Daley and the Chicago Park District have supported the creation of several Dog Friendly Areas (DFAs) to provide safe places for dogs to exercise, play and socialize legally "off leash."

Creating DFAs in Chicago is a grass-roots operation. If a group of dog owners decide a DFA is needed in their community, they should organize themselves as an official group with at least five members. Once established, this group should form relationships with the local park advisory council, the local neighborhood association, C.A.P.S Representative, and Ward Alderman. Attendance of these organization's meetings is important as the concept of a DFA should be discussed. For more information call 312 742-PLAY.

Step One: Defining a space for a dog friendly area

There are certain factors in identifying and defining a site for a proposed DFA. Look for areas that include the following:

In identifying a site for a DFA, there are also certain criteria that should be considered:

Once a preferred site is identified by the dog owner group, confirm that the Chicago Park District owns the property.

Step Two, conducting surveys

After an appropriate site is selected for a proposed DFA, three types of surveys should be conducted within a one-year period.

Petition: A petition of support should be distributed to th surrounding area of the proposed site (it is suggested to petition at least five blocks in each direction.) It is important to include the signatures of both dog owners and non-dog owners.

Usage Surveys: Usage surveys of the proposed area should be conducted for a period of eight months to one year. These surveys determine the existing use of the proposed DFA site, identifies who currently uses the site, what types of activities they are participating in, which days and hours the park is heavily used, weather conditions, other amenities around the site such as a playlot or athletic field, and if the observed is a dog owner or not.

Site Survey: Once the above two types of survey types have been conducted, a site survey of the proposed DFA should be drafted. The survey identifies the dog owner group's desired specifications of the proposed DFA such a an isolation area, retaining wall or landscaping details.

Step Three: Community Support

Community support and consent is vital in obtaining Park District approval for a DFA. The dog owners group should be taken under the umbrella of the closest neighborhood association in order to assist in financial, maintenance and safety concerns.

Over a period of eight months to a year, a minimum of three public neighborhood meetings need to be conducted to acquire a public consensus of the surrounding neighbors of the proposed DFA.

Representatives from the Chicago Park District, Ward Alderman's office, C.A.P.S., the neighborhood association and the local park advisory council should be present at these meetings. The results of the petition and the three survey types should be distributed and discussed.

Step Four: Involving the Chicago Park District

After all the surveys are completed and the community approves the proposed DFA, a written proposal with all supporting documentation should be submitted to the Chicago Park District for review and consideration.

This proposal should have letters of support from the local park advisory council, the Ward Alderman, the governing neighborhood associations, block clubs, and schools, condominium associations or local business that may border the proposed site. Copies of this proposal should be forwarded to the Ward Alderman and governing neighborhood association.

Upon approval of a proposed DFA, the Chicago Park District will negotiate design possibilities, which will be shown at neighborhood association meetings for review and agreement. The Chicago Park District will also obtain costs for the proposed DFA and negotiate exactly which costs the community will be responsible for.

Step Five: Community Responsibilities

The most important aspect of having a successful DFA in a park is on-going community support and communication with the Chicago Park District. There are certain responsibilities a community must adhere to:

Maintenance: The community must assist in the maintenance of the DFA. It is the responsibility of the users of the DFA to clean up after their pets, rotate, bleach and replace any pea gravel areas, wash down the hard surfaced areas regularly and daily clean up any waste that users may have missed. The regular users of the DFA should inform new users of the rules and regulations as well as the importance of maintenance. The dog owner group should provide the Chicago Park District with a monthly cleaning schedule and will have to sign a letter stating their agreement for the upkeep of the DFA.

Monitoring the DFA: The community or users of the DFA should assist in the monitoring of the DFA. The dog owner group members should encourage the enforcement of the leash laws outside of the DFA, monitor the behavior of the dogs and dog owners using the DFA and assist in the education of new users.

Management: Have frequent communication with the Chicago Park District regarding the management of the DFA. If problems occur with the operation or patrons of the DFA, the Chicago Park District should be informed and involved in the resolution of the problem.

Fundraising: Organize fundraising campaigns to finance new projects for the DFA such as a doggie drinking fountain, a kiosk, an isolation area or an agility area.

Clean-Ups: Hold semi-annual entire park clean-ups in conjunction with Friends of the Parks, Earth Day and Clean and Green celebrations.

Failure to provide this type of support, both operational and financial, may result in the Chicago Park District reconverting the parkland to its original use. Each year, the Chicago Park District will return to neighborhood association meetings to discuss the success or failure of the DFA The Chicago Park District will take appropriate action once that determination is made.


Recently, the Chicago Park District and City Council both amended their ordinances regarding animals to allow the Park District General Superintendent to designate specific off-leash hours at certain beach locations, depending on approval from the local park advisory council, local neighborhood association an Ward Alderman.

The same process and standards that apply to a DFA in a park is the same for off-leash hours at a beach. For potential beach access consideration the aforementioned petitions, the three survey types and a maintenance schedule should be included in a proposal to the Park District.

Rules and rEgulations of a DFA an Beach Off-Leash Hours

Dog Friendly Area Proposal Submission Checklist

Listed below are the components and supporting materials that are required for the review of your DFA proposal submission package:

Sponsoring Organization. Statement of Organization's history, mission and membership. This group is usually the dog owner group and/or the local neighborhood association.

Proposed Location. Exact location of the proposed DFA including proximity to any residential buildings and local businesses. This should also include other amenities of the park (i.e. athletic field, playlot, etc.)

Confirmation of Land Ownership. Obtain, in writing, exactly which city agency owns the land for the proposed DFA.

Specifications of Proposed DFA. Size of the proposed location, amenities of desired DFA (i.e. benches, retaining walls, lighting, surfacing, fencing, etc.)

Community Survey Results. Copy of the petition, the surveys and the desired site plan

Community Support. In your proposal, include information about the sponsoring organization's community meetings, which were held over a period of one year. Include an attendance list as well as representatives from other organizations

Involving the Chicago Park District. Include who from the Chicago Park District has been informed of the ongoing process for the proposed DFA (park supervisor, area manager, region manager, etc.)

Maintenance Plan. Information regarding methods the sponsoring organization will implement to maintain the DFA.

Expected Revenue. Identify the source of the sponsoring organization's revenue for the proposed DFA. Include any tentative fund-raising efforts.

Relevance & Enhancement to the Community. Statement of how the proposed DFA relates to the existing park, the surrounding neighborhood and the city in general.


Being a responsible pet owner

Dogs by law must be on leash (6 foot) while off property. Also, they are completely prohibited in signed natural areas per Park District Code no. VII.B10a. Also in all playgrounds.

Letter from resident K. Randall, to the Herald, January 17, 2007

This letter is an appeal to fellow dog owners. As I walked y dog on a leash in front of the park near my home, a dog who was off-leash ran from the park and attacked my dog. His owner tried to call him back to no avail. She later said her dog was "not aggressive."

Last night another dog was attacked in front of this park. My small children have been terrified by large dogs charging at them and knocking them over. My son had a toy that had been given as a birthday present that day destroyed by a dog who ran an bit it and whose owner gave no apology or reimbursement.

There is a leash law in Chicago for a reason. Any dog trainer or the book Urban Dog, by Cis Frankel, Oprah's dog trainer, will tell you a dog who does not immediately return to his owner when called only once despite any distraction should not be off leash in an urban area.

It is not only unsafe for other dogs and people, b ut for the dog himself who may run into the street and be hit, which I have also witnessed.

Please be considerate of others, as well as your own dog. Keep your dog on a leash, find a fenced yard and/or get obedience training. An excellent neighborhood dog training resource is Canis Sapiens.


Vacant lot goes to the dogs
Dog-friendly park to open in spring

12/15/2010 10:00 PM

Contributing Reporter

2 Comments - Add Your Comment

Concept A (above) for the new park has a pear-shaped design with a walking path around the dog areas, while Concept B has a water basin with a spray feature.

After years of sitting vacant, a threadbare 1.1-acre patch of grass at 1611-1629 S. Wabash is scheduled to become a park next spring. Details were presented to the public at a Nov. 17 meeting at the First District police station. About 50 residents viewed two renderings presented by representatives from the landscape design firm Altamanu at the meeting. Ald. Robert Fioretti’s office is asking residents to vote on the two designs by Dec. 20.

But don’t call it a dog park. “It’s a small park with a portion of the site dedicated to a dog-friendly area,” says attorney-spokesperson Leslie Recht of the 2nd Ward.
“Dog friendly area” or “DFA” is park district terminology which raises fewer hackles among competing park users. Recht says that the 2nd Ward has developed parks for different constituencies — an indoor playground and fieldhouse at the 18th and Indiana women’s park, a tot lot at Mark Twain Park (16th and Calumet) and sports fields at Coliseum Park (which also has a DFA).

Around 2,500 dog owners live in the South Loop, according to Dennis Freymann, spokesman for the South Loop Dog Park Action Cooperative, which maintains two other dog parks in the South Loop. The organization raised more than $75,000 to help establish Grant Park Bark Park in 2006. The group provides 22,000 free “poo bags” per year.

The Chicago Park District has specific rules for DFAs. They must be power-washable and sections must be filled with pea-gravel. They must have water available. They must provide bags for dog waste. They must be cleaned daily by volunteers. And, to use the DFA, South Loop residents need to purchase a $5 permit and tag from a participating veterinarian.

The park at 16th and Wabash will be funded from a combination of sources including TIF money, park district funds and the city. Dog friendly areas generally cost the park district around $150,000 to build.

The new park is bordered by the True Rock Ministries and a building which will soon house a new restaurant. A chain link fence will separate the park from the alley.

South Loop residents can view the two designs online at Comments can be e-mailed

Both designs are tree-filled, one with 58 trees and one with 48. Both have concession stands, seating, earth berms and separate large- and small-dog areas. Concept A has a pear-shaped design with a walking path around the dog areas, while Concept B has a water basin with a spray feature.

Both park designs call for hard-surfaces covered in Astroturf, which some dog owners don’t care for. Pumpkin, an eight-pound Japanese Chin doesn’t go to many dog parks.
“She has knee issues, and I don’t like to encourage her to play on hard surfaces like concrete and asphalt,” says her female owner who lives in the 600 block of South Dearborn, but declined to give her name. Also, she’s “overwhelmed by all the large dogs roughhousing,” at DFAs. Pumpkin’s owner, who works from home, sometimes uses “puppy pads” instead of taking the dog out.

Dog owners prefer grass, says the Chicago Park District’s Marta Juaniza, “but in small urban areas and given Chicago’s weather, grass does not survive. The surfaces must be easy to clean and maintain and also withstand weather conditions.” Pumpkin will definitely visit the new park, though, says her owner.

“If there was a park with a small dog area and softer play surface, we’ll definitely check it out,” she said.


2 Comments - Add Your Comment


By Bled Dry Tax Payer from South Loop
Posted: 12/19/2010 0:29 AM

Jean, nice article but: “It’s a small park with a portion of the site dedicated to a dog-friendly area,” says attorney-spokesperson Leslie Recht... That is 100% a false statement. People who went to the meeting said it was clear that this is a full-on DOG PARK with limited human and no child space. Anyone mentioning kids was shouted down by the "dog owner bouncer guy." The cost - $150,000? Get real. The city already has $10,000,000 into the lot, needing $3MM more. A $13MM dog park? Wow!


By Bill Airy
Posted: 12/17/2010 11:41 AM

Looks like these parks could benefit from the FREE services of

Dog Park etiquette.

Adapted from a Tribune article, by Friends of the Parks.

Politeness at the pooch park
So what if they're dogs? You still need to know how to behave at the dog park. Here are some etiquette tips.
April 12, 2011|By William Hageman, Tribune ReporterBefore you run little Spanky over to your neighborhood dog park, it's good to brush up on dog park etiquette.

With spring here and more dog owners and their animals getting out, the Anti-Cruelty Society is offering some timely advice. Read and enjoy – and have fun at dog park.

Know your dog's behavior

Be aware of how your dog interacts with other dogs and people, both of which he will encounter in large numbers. Be realistic when it comes to your dog's temperament. Is he a bully, pushy with other dogs? Or is he shy and timid? If he is older, he might feel vulnerable in a dog park environment.

"Dog parks are great for most dogs but you must watch your dog very carefully to ensure they want to be there," says Dr. Robyn Barbiers, president of the Anti-Cruelty Society. "If your dog hasn't been introduced to many strange dogs on a regular basis, he may need time to adjust to the many different personalities encountered at a dog park. Be ready to accept that your dog may not be an appropriate one to be in the dog park or may not enjoy the company of many other dogs."

She also advises that if your dog is acting aggressively, you should leave.

Know the rules

Most dog parks require dogs to be current on vaccinations (usually distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvovirus and bordetella) and prohibit "aggressive" dogs and female dogs in heat. Chicago Park District dog-friendly areas require a $5 tag, available from most veterinarians.

Keep your dog hydrated

When you go to the park, make sure your dog has plenty of water.

Clean up after your dog

Picking up after your dog is just part of being a responsible pet owner.

Social behavior

Dog parks are best for socializing, not socialization. The difference is that a well-socialized dog can enjoy socializing at the dog park, whereas a dog that needs socialization may find the experience in the dog park overwhelming. (If your dog is not socialized, try enrolling in a dog training class.)

A list of Chicago dog parks, along with other tips, is at