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Roam: The best pet parks in the Eastern US

Whether you’re on the road this summer or stay-cationing, you need to get out and stretch your legs occasionally, as does your best fur-friend. So, grab his leash and use our list to explore some of the pet-friendliest parks in the country. 

Provincetown, MA

Pilgrim Bark Park. This outstanding park invites pups to run off-leash on a fenced acre of land. While he plays, you can enjoy the beautiful sculptures, structures and benches, donated by local artists. (One bench looks like a small version of the Pilgrim ship, the Mayflower.) You’ll also find waste stations, an oversized doghouse and fire hydrants painted to look like the city’s police officers, firefighters and public workers—if they were dogs. After you leave the park, visit some of the many pet-welcoming shops, eateries and lodgings in Provincetown.

Knoxville, TN

Tommy Schumpert Park. The PetSafe Dog Park, located in Tommy Schumpert Park, has two off-leash areas. Pups 30 pounds and under are invited into the smaller one, which has a grass and mulch surface. Big dogs use the larger space, which includes a mulched walking trail and a pond with a jumping dock. Bring a towel and let your dog swim during the summer months. Want more? Re-leash your four-legged pal and hike a paved loop that leads to the Sterchi Hills Greenway.

Lancaster, PA

Beau’s Dream Dog Park. Named for a local canine who helped his owner win a makeover for the park, Beau’s Dream is located inside Lancaster’s Buchanan Park. You’ll find separate areas for big and small dogs, both equipped with splash pads. Dachshunds can wiggle through the tunnel on the small dog side, while a tennis ball tree automatically tosses balls for playful pups on the big side.

Hoover, AL

The Dog Park at Loch Haven. Bring a picnic to this park, and after your pet has played off-leash on the two, fenced acres, and enjoy your lunch under a covered pavilion. There’s a doggie agility course with hurdles, ramps and tunnels, a watering station, and a creek for water-fun. After you both eat, burn a few calories on the .4-mile walking track.

John’s Creek, GA

Newtown Dream Dog Park. One of the best dog parks in the U.S., Newtown Dream lets pups romp on a fenced acre of artificial turf. They can also dash through sprinklers and a spraying hydrant, or play on obstacles that include hoops, tunnels and a bridge. Let Fido rest under the shelter or a shade tree when he’s tired. Water drinking fountains are available for pets and people.

 Newton Dream Dog Park in John’s Creek, GA
Newton Dream Dog Park courtesy of TripAdvisor

Tips for Traveling to Pet Parks

  • Before you leave home, ask your vet about flea and tick preventatives, so your pup don’t come back with unwanted hitchhikers. Make sure he’s on heartworm protection, since mosquitoes can be anywhere.
  • Ideally, your dog should also be spayed or neutered before he interacts with others at the pet park.
  • Train your dog to come when you call, in case there’s a squabble, or so he’ll respond when you’re ready to leave.
  • Don’t let Fido hang around the park gate when new dogs come in. He might dash out.
  • Exercise your pup, or calm him down, before he goes off-leash in the park. If he has a lot of pent-up energy, other dogs may mistake it for aggression.  
  • It’s fun to socialize with other owners at a park, but keep an eye your pet at all times. Fights can break out quickly, so be ready to step in. Don’t let him be bullied, or behave like a bully.
  • Finally, be considerate, and clean up after your dog. Then you’ll both be welcome to come back to the park anytime.

Lynn Coulter is owned by two rescue dogs—Molly and Miss Paws—and occasionally blogs at LynnCoulter.com. She’s also the author of three books and a freelancer who writes about travel, gardening and more. She and her husband live in metro Atlanta, where they cheer for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and spend their money on dog biscuits.

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