Washington Square Park Large Dog Run Opens! First Part of Long Awaited Phase III Construction Open to the Public

Photos today —

Happy dog!
View from the sidewalk

Dogs and dog guardians seemed happy to frolic in the new space which is larger than the old one. There are three closed entry ways to ensure (hopefully) that no dogs get out into the street by mistake.

Phase III construction at the park will be opening in phases. The large dog run — which is open to the public as of today — is the first part to open. Washington Square Park Redesign Phase III began in June of 2012.

Photos: Cathryn
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17 thoughts on “Washington Square Park Large Dog Run Opens! First Part of Long Awaited Phase III Construction Open to the Public”

  1. Glad it finally opened. I just hate that sandy surface though. It is a germ trap and will soon begin to smell.

  2. Was truly looking forward to the new large dog run opening- what a disappointment! The new run is remarkably poorly designed (was it designed?) and landscaped and is inferior to any of the existing neighborhood runs. It’s as if the designer said let me design this without trying to improve on what exists and then couple this with no consideration of the parks existing aesthetic. The dogs shall be ghetto-ized to the park perimeter and let me not be troubled to design a water feature superior to other runs plastic kiddie pools- let me just plunk a shape that makes no sense in the context of the shape of the run and call it a day. The ramped entry is too narrow to allow multiple dogs or dogs accompanying multiple owners to pass. The scale is smaller than the old dog run and awkwardly shaped; the beauty of the old run was the way it allowed the dogs a great gallop with the circular shape encouraging uninterupted running and playing. If the design intent was to reduce the number of dogs utilizing the run and curtail the enjoyment they once had they’ve succeeded in spades.

  3. So happy to see Tony in his blue pram (pics5&7)! Haven’t seen him for months and was a little worried. The shape of the run is a little odd, but my dogs seem not to mind. I’m hoping there aren’t the drainage issues as with the old run. So far so good.

    • Cathryn,

      There really is NO ideal surface for a dog run, there are only surfaces one dislikes more or less than others. Dogs are very different creatures so there is no one-size-fits-all surface. I prefer a hard surface for a number of reasons including that balls bounce on it. and the fact that it can be power sprayed with a hose.

      Here is why I don’t like the sandy surface:

      My dogs are Westies — shaggy, white, low to the ground diggers and rollers. They come out of the sandy surfaced dog runs filthy from head to toe. They bring the sand home and it gets all over. This is disgusting when one considers that that sand is peed and pooped on hundreds of times by hundreds of dogs. Sand cannot be cleaned and, in fact, is used to clean contaminants from water. When it rains, the water goes through the sand, leaving bacteria and giardia, etc. on the surface plus whatever was in the rain — things like carbon monoxide.

      That said, many dogs do leave a sandy dog run fairly clean — short haired tall dogs especially.

  4. Hi Numa,

    It did seem a bit uninteresting in shape whereas you are right the dogs circled around in the previous run. I fear that your concerns may be accurate as to how it was designed by the park’s re-designer. The move in location was, as I’m sure you know, basically forced on everyone. Hmmm… that’s too bad. I don’t have a dog and I don’t visit other dog runs but I hear your concerns and frustrations. I like the seating around the tree – at least one tree was saved in the redesign construction!


  5. Hi Angela!

    I did not know that sweet dog’s name … Tony! Glad I could alleviate your fears with those photos. I guess today we will see how the drainage works. If you check it out, let me know. Glad your dogs are enjoying the new run thus far.


  6. Hi Cathryn,
    As a dog owner, I find the physical parameters of each dog run shapes the behavior of the dogs using the run. The old run drove exuberance and the exuberance drove efficient exercise, a real boon for active dogs. I’m glad a single tree was saved, yet disappointed by how the design of the run itself feels non-existent; a slapdash, unbeautiful afterthought that doesn’t even suceed on a practical level. Though not all areas of the renovated park are successful, most feel considered…the dog run does not. To me, it’s a reflection of someone thinking the most appropriate “design” for dogs in this park shall ostracize them and encourage them to segregate themselves from other park users. This is a shame, as the gracious scale of the park is very conducive to safe dog owner / non dog owner / park users with children interactions. Many of the dogs who frequent the park are among the best behaved, most lovely dogs in the city and are greatly enjoyed by a majority of the parks users.

  7. Does anyone know if they will be adding any small pools here? I would be happy to bring one if I knew it would stay there. my pup loves to cool off in kiddie pools but whatever that thing is at the east end of the run doesn’t cut it. What is that supposed to be, anyway??

  8. Wake Up New Yorkers – as someone who has lived in many countries – UK, France, Spain, Italy, South Africa and Australia I have to sadly admit defeat when it comes to owning a dog in New York. The situation here is absolutely diabolical for pet owners and yet everywhere still proclaims that New York is a great to place to have a dog. The truth is… its practial barbaric – Arcane leash laws, not allowed in coffee shops, bars, restaurants, on public transport, ridiculous sized dog runs like this and literally NO WHERE for them to truly run and be free all go into making New York the MOST inhospitable dog hating city I have EVER experienced. Dont be fooled – the rest of the world doesnt have a problem with owning animals in their cities and the dogs dont behave like they do here – frustrated… Im not surpised!!!

  9. Hi Numa,
    Thanks for further illumination on your experience. I agree it somehow feels more segregated although the big selling point was that (outside) people would be able to sit and watch the dogs. Maybe once the building is in place? I don’t know. It does seems strange to me to have it along the edge of the park.

    Erin, I just posted your comment the other day. Somehow I missed it initially. Sorry for delay! I would say you’d have to appeal to the Dog Run people or Community Board 2 Parks Committee (for what that’s worth of them if their lack of staying on top of the park’s Phase II & Phase III construction and on Conservancy issue is any indication – that being said, a smaller issue might be something they would take on and know how to handle). That’s sort of funny regarding those sprinklers. It is sort of this lame little pool of water but some dogs seem to enjoy it. I don’t think the park redesigner’s specialty was dog runs. He was more of a landscape designer.

    Ed, Thanks… Now I’m so curious to see what it’s like in all these other countries!! Does this dog run seem small?The other dog run was much friendlier as a space even tho’ the dog run people say this is somewhat larger…


    Thanks for your comments!


  10. Hi Cathryn

    Good to see a blog about a dog run and there seem to be some interesting issues aired here already.

    I am a dog-owner living in Tokyo and am planning to write a blog about the local dog run in Yoyogi Park near my home. I will write in English – plenty of English speakers use the dog run and translation is very do-able these days anyway should there be a demand

    The dog run is quite large – and oblong shaped with little in the way of ‘furniture’ or ornamentation – just some limited seating, four large tree stumps and water taps. However, the area is nicely shaded in large trees which the park authorities keep nicely trimmed.

    There are three dog-run areas – one for ‘large’ dogs – 10 kgm upwards, an area for ‘medium’ sized dogs (5 – 10 kgm) and one for toy dogs – i.e. less than 5 kgms.

    The are is pretty much all dirt and sand although the largest area for the big dogs has a grassy corner where some sniffing and grass chewing occurs.

    The dog run works on a registration basis with ID and this is periodically checked by park wardens – basically people here in Japan need to have their rabies vaccination up-to-date.

    I visit the dog run each day usually and am planning a blog about the run – do you have any suggestions or thoughts?


    Tim Birks

  11. I’ve been going to this park for about a month now, we just moved to the neighborhood for the specific purpose of being close to a dog park. I’ve seen that some owners just don’t care about their dogs’ behavior and won’t take responsibility for it. For example this weekend I saw a woman talking on her phone while her dog was acting aggressively towards other dogs and so she picked him up by his harness (while still on phone) and he grabbed a hold of another dog’s face to the point where the second dog was hanging from his mouth off the ground being whipped around. The woman just stood there, still holding her dog still off the ground while the poor other dog’s face was used as a whipping toy. The dog was bleeding pretty badly and I never saw any exchange of information, but that’s not to say it didn’t occur. Have seen other dogs whose owners clearly know their dogs have vicious tendencies and wait until its too late to call their dogs off. As owners we all KNOW when our dogs are in play mode vs. attack mode and we have to take responsibility for that and train them accordingly/muzzle them/keep them at bay. That means no PAYING ATTENTION TO YOUR DOG AT ALL TIMES. Tonight my dog was viciously attacked by one of those dogs (one who I have seen attack other dogs not in play mode) whose owner would not (initially) take responsibility. And I was told by people I know who are part of this blogging community that “dogs will just be dogs”. I wanted to smack them and probably came close to it. Next time it could be a child, as a matter of fact there was a little girl in the park at the time. I of course would hope that the attacks stop (READ: THAT OWNERS TAKE RESPONSIBILITY BY MUZZLING AND TRAINING DOGS THAT HAVE AGGRESSIVE TENDENCIES OR EVEN BETTER KEEP THEM ON LEASH), I know that won’t happen so I propose a requirement that after any attack that goes beyond play, the owners exchange information and the incident be reported to Department of Health so that there is a record of bites from a specific dog. I believe that the threat of having to surrender your aggressive dog will be a starting place as an incentive for those owners who otherwise believe they are immune to consequences. I don’t know if I’ll be back at the park but I hope that the owners will realize that its not just for social time, there are serious consequences to not controlling your dog and its only a matter of time before a dog gets killed and/or before a child gets caught in the crossfire of a dog fight. Think on these things.

    • Erin, you may want to reconsider going to the dog run. It does not seem to be your cup of tea, and you will drive yourself insane trying to control the other people and their dogs in the run. Your view of the dogs’ behavior in the run may not be shared by others there, and the Department of Health is not going to get involved unless people are getting bitten.

    • Hi Erin,

      Sorry for the delayed response and thanks for writing with your experience which I’m sorry to hear about. I’d think that people are aware as far as knowing their dogs and that being responsible comes with the territory especially in the dog run. I have to say looking at the new dog run, I find it unappealing. It’s nice that tree and the seating around it but it’s just less interesting than the previous dog run – to me. I don’t have a dog but, in theory, the run was designed in that location because they said they wanted other people to be able to sit and watch the dogs. We’ll see once the whole thing is designed (park admin building opens, etc.) if that actually happens.

      There is a Dog Run Association you can contact. They seem a little beleaguered to me – but technically they run the Dog Run. Personally, I think the Parks Department should run the Dog Run in one of its parks but somehow this is not how it is.

      Have you gone back since you last wrote?


  12. hi Tim from Japan!

    So sorry to take so long to respond. My blog is about the park at large and also other issues so I don’t know if I’d know what to recommend on a blog about a dog run. That being said, I think if you are there daily, things will come to you!

    Do you find the set up of the run works for people and dogs?

    Thanks for writing!


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