By Sarah Bennett

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.

Madison Square Park (west side of the park, near 24th St)

Basic stats: A large space with that big-chunked gravel that little dogs find so difficult. Free poop bags, but if you don’t tie up the bags properly or get them directly into the trash bags, regulars get pissy (there are also shovels if you want to scoop the poop directly into the garbage, which the regulars are OK with for reasons I don’t understand). There’s a water source, bowls, and a li’l pool for warm weather. You’ll usually find grotesque tennis balls here and there. There’s a smaller, separate, optional area for smaller dogs, but separation of dogs by size is never enforced. Both areas are connected, and have a secure fence and entry.

Placement in the park: On the east side right by the side walk, which means dogs do sometimes go batshit at passers-by, but only the dogs that tend to bark at any animate object. Getting into the park at 23rd street means braving some heavy pedestrian traffic, but nothing too crazy, especially since most of Broadway below 25th St is a pedestrian mall, anyway. You also get a nice view of whatever large-scale sculpture is calling Madison Square home that season, plus you can scope the line at Shake Shack.

Vibe Inside: Mostly friendly, but there are those regulars who act like dog run police (not that there’s anything really wrong with that if people aren’t cleaning up after their dogs or letting aggressive dogs run wild, but calling people out on poop bag violations seems excessive). There’s lots of seating, including benches that encircle two large trees, but only sit there if you’re prepared to put your butt where many, many territorial dogs have “saved that seat” before. Sadly, for most dog owners, this isn’t a problem if the seat is dry at the time you need it, which is why most of us are single.

Cons:  It’s semi-crazy on weekends, especially when the dog-run-ignorant types I’ve mentioned before, but the run is so large that it never seems like total chaos (although it can seem like a large, unflushable gravel toilet). That means it has the same issue as Union Square with mud, dust, and stench, so if you want to take your dog out for some exercise on a hot day, be prepared to breathe out of your mouth and for the love of all that is holy, do not even think of wearing flip-flops.  

Pros: Once a year there’s a delicious food fest in the triangle at the center of the park, which means you can walk your dog and get an overpriced brisket sandwich from Mile End, which is pretty much all I’ve ever wanted in life. You’re also close to some nice/pricey retail, like Fishs Eddy and Marimekko, and the view of the Flat Iron Building is always a treat.

Food?: Aside from that annual fest, there’s always the mighty Shake Shack, which has insane lines during the warmer months but isn’t so bad when most sane/non-dog people would just eat inside. There are a few food trucks on 23rd, but other options are limited, and it is kind of painful to sit there looking at Eataly, knowing that it’s full of delicious cheese that you have no access to. Which is nice in some ways since it allows you to commune mentally with your dog, but still.  

Overall: A good dog run, best for bigger dogs (due to the gravel), but not that easy to get to by train and very easy to get fat at if you’re not careful.

Next time: Stuyvesant Park (15th St and 2nd Ave)