Obviously, the number one factor in choosing a dog run how far it is from your home/how long the distance for your dog to physically drag you there. For the sake of reference, however, we’re going to attempt to compile info on as many NYC dog runs as humanly possible, because you never know when you’re going to move, a jerk is going to move onto your regular run turf, or your dog may wish to move his bowels somewhere else.
Stuyvesant Park (2nd Avenue and 15th St, entrance on the east side of 15th)
Basic stats: A long time ago, the park only allowed dogs off-leash at specific times and with minimum security (i.e., people who didn’t know about the dog hours would leave gates open), and neither my dog nor I do too well with that level of chaos. But in recent years the park has established a permanent doggie area with benches, real fences, and, best of all, no gravel; the run is just a cordoned off part of the park with mostly-even stone paving, and the only thing that makes it dog-specific is the gates and signage. There’s also no separate area for smaller dogs and no water source.
Placement in the park: The park is on either side of 2nd ave. This is the East side, which means it’s mostly surrounded by medical office buildings (Beth Israel Hospital is right there), so when your dog barks, you can feel slightly less guilty after hours. It’s a nice little area before 2nd Ave becomes all sterile around Gramercy, and not too far from Union Square.
Vibe Inside: Pretty friendly. Stuyvesant has a nice mix of dogs, and it’s big enough that when a dog does get aggressive, odds are there’s enough distance between that dog and your dog to keep your pet safe. I usually go there in bad weather—because it’s paved, it’s ideal for a post-rain stroll—so I’m not sure what the situation is with shade, but there are plenty of trees and grass and flowers on the way.
Cons: Since the park wasn’t created specifically for dogs, it has fewer dog-related perks: no obvious source of poop bags (there is a dispenser of bags, but it’s often not clear whether they’re recycled shopping bags or re-recycled shopping poop bags, which is disgusting, so I just avoid the whole thing), and fewer tennis balls lying around. The bricked area in the center of the park is best avoided, because the cracks between the bricks are hard on tiny dog feet and create a landmine of dog poop for humans. Because it’s also a low-key park, there isn’t a lot of food/activity around, which is good in some ways, but bad if you’re looking to do errands while taking your dog for a spin.
Pros: The park’s size and gravel-free status make it an all-time favorite— lots of space, very little aroma. Also, like I mentioned earlier, while other dog runs make their own gravy in rainy weather and become toilety mudpits, Stuy is nowhere near as messy. There are a few puddles, but you take your dog there after a rainy day without dreading having to eventually hose him down with shampoo, which, in a tiny apartment, means your whole world’s about to get a lot more damp. It’s also a quiet park, so you don’t have to cross a ton of foot-traffic to get there (even crossing 14th Street is rarely that bad).
Food?: Being a smaller park means no food trucks, although there are usually some here and there on 14th. There are some good restaurants along that stretch, but none with take-out windows (although it might be worth trying to work something out with Artichoke since they have a high delivery minimum and some take-out places allow you to stick your torso in to get pre-paid food so your feet and your dog don’t break the law).
Next Time: Washington Square Park!