Who Let the Dogs Out? Best Off-Leash Areas for Pooches & Kids

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“Big dogs, little dogs, red dogs, blue dogs….“ Dog parks aren’t quite as happening as P.D. Eastman’s Go, Dog. Go!, but they’re still quite a Dog Party. If you’ve got a pooch and a kid (or multiples of either), we’ve rounded up the best places around the city to spend the day with the fam, tails ‘n’ all. Flip through the gallery to get the poop, er scoop.

Fort Steilacoom Dog Park

Big dogs, little dogs... Fort Steilacoom is two dog parks in one. One for the big dogs, and one for the little dogs. Of course, if you have a Great Dane and a Dachshund, you may have difficulty choosing which one to visit. This DP has 22 acres of grassy play space, and lots for that inquisitive doggy nose to sniff.

Good to Know: When the pups are dog-tired, take the kids to one of the funnest playgrounds around (think castles, towers and turrets for the bigger kids and a wonderful Tot Lot for the Littles). Then take a stroll around Waughop Lake or do a spot of fishing, and explore the historic buildings.

Fort Steilacoom Park Off-Leash Area
8698 87th Ave. S.W.
Lakewood Wa 98498
Online: cityoflakewood.us/lakewood-parks

photo: City of Lakewood via Flickr

Dog Park Etiquette for Kids
Kids and dogs can have a very special relationship, but please use caution in the dog park. Remember that this is the pooches’ park and little ones need to know how to behave around dogs. Here are some tips to keep everyone in your brood safe and happy:

1. Never bring food or toys to the park (dog toys are fine, or course).

2. Keep a close eye on your kids, especially tots.

3. Discourage your kids from running, dogs may think they want to play chase.

4. Teach your tyke to always ask the dog’s human if it’s OK to pet their dog.

5. Dog parks are not the place to help your little one get over their fear of dogs – there’s too many dogs, and most are in that rambunctious,”Hey, wanna play?” mood. Setting up a quiet meeting with a friend or family member’s mellow dog is a much better place to start.

Where is your favorite off-leash area? Tell us about it in a comment below.

— Helen Walker Green

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