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Fetch! Summer fun at the dog park

Off-leash dog parks in the South Puget Sound

Tacoma resident James Holland and his dog Dipstick enjoy an afternoon at Wapato Park’s Off-Leash Dog Park in Tacoma. Photo credit: Christina Butcher

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For dog owners in the Pacific Northwest, summer is the best time of year to explore bustling city parks and hunt for the perfect off-leash dog park. Taking the time to play fetch and get paws (and feet) muddy under the summer sun is essential to animal health, especially after being stuck indoors all winter.

"It gives dogs a chance to get out and socialize," said Kim Erb, an employee of The Pet Brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM). "It helps to be able to take your dogs to a place that's clean where they can run around and play." 

Whether you're new to the South Puget Sound area and looking for a dog park within walking distance to home, or you're a long-time resident hoping to find a new dog park in which to let your pup roam free, there are plenty of local options for you and Fido to enjoy.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord
Dog owners living on or near JBLM have two options for on-post fun: Lewis Dog Park and McChord Dog Park. Located on JBLM main, Lewis Dog Park is located just inside the DuPont Gate, south of the Auto Crafts Center. It has water available for dogs and is well-landscaped throughout the year. McChord Dog Park, which is located at the crossroads of Perimeter Road and Lincoln Blvd., is an off-leash, enclosed area with benches and a paved jogging path leading to Holiday Park.

Thurston County's Off-Leash Dog Park, also known as the Hawk's Prairie Dog Park, opened in 2010 and is made up of five acres of land. Don't let its location on the Thurston County Waste and Recovery Center grounds deter you from visiting this popular dog park, which offers fire hydrants and drinking water for pets and walking trails for owners.

Since 2006, the Fort Steilacoom Bark-Off-Leash Area has provided a haven for dogs and their owners in the Lakewood area. This 22-acre dog park is a part of the larger Ft. Steilacoom Park. It has water fountains and benches available to parkgoers and their pups as well as an area sectioned off for small dogs. Trails just outside the dog park meander around Waughop Lake and the surrounding area, giving pet owners an opportunity to stretch their legs while walking the dog.

Tucked away among lush trees and a wide walking path, the off-leash dog park at Clark's Creek Park-North is a great option for dog owners who need a little bit of peace and quiet. This dog park is fenced off and has benches available for weary pet owners.

Wapato Park's Off-Leash Dog Park is a great option for dog owners living in the heart of the city. The dog park is made up of three acres of land, one of which is designated for small dogs. There are benches, shelters and water available throughout the park to make sure pet owners and pets are comfortable. The Point Defiance Park Designated Off-Leash Area, located south of Fort Nisqually on Point Defiance's 5-Mile Drive, is another hidden gem in the city. It has seven acres of land for dogs to roam and an area fenced off for small dogs.

University Place
Chambers Creek Regional offers local pet owners a scenic fenced area to unwind with their dogs. In June 2017, the dog park doubled in size after the nonprofit organization Sun Dogs raised $14,000 to expand the dog park from one to two acres. Now, the dog park offers an off-leash area for shy, senior and small dogs to enjoy. Just outside of the fenced dog park, there's a one-mile stretch of beach that park officials have also designated as an off-leash area as well as ample walking trails throughout the park for on-leash adventures.

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