Dog owners weigh in on best local dog runs

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The dog run at Madison Square Park on a recent afternoon (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

The dog run at Madison Square Park on a recent afternoon (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Everyone has their various preferences over which is the best dog run for them and their pooch, based on different definitions of convenience and what makes a good dog run, so Town & Village talked to some dog owners at local parks this week to find out the pros and cons of some of the parks in the neighborhood.

The dog runs at Madison Square Park and Union Square Park both have a gravelly surface that a number of owners said they dislike.

“A different surface would be nice because the rocks get smelly,” Maxine S. said of the Union Square dog run. “Stuyvesant Park is cobblestone, which is better. The pebbles are why it’s smelly.”

Evan R., who takes his dog to the run at Union Square, said that this is one of the few aspects of the park that he doesn’t like. “The rocks bother a lot of the dogs,” he said.

Pomeranian-owner Catherine Norrie said that while she goes to the Union Square run mostly out of convenience, she likes the park at Tompkins Square better. “The surface there is sandy, which is better because the rocks here make it harder for him to walk,” she said.

Union Square resident Pat Shavulsky said that the Stuyvesant Square Park dog run is her favorite one because, unlike the other three, the surface is concrete. “Because of the surface it’s easy to keep clean,” she said. “Even when it rains and snows it’s fine and it doesn’t get too smelly.”

Considering the limited amount of open space in Manhattan, many dog owners said they’re happy that their pets have anywhere to play outside at all, but some said they do have preferences based on the different sizes of the runs.

“This one is bigger (than Union Square Park’s run) and size matters,” Joseph Graham said of Madison Square’s dog run while taking a friend’s Weimaraner, Pathos, for a walk.

Both Tompkins Square and Madison Square have separate areas for small dogs, but the space in the latter park is noticeably smaller. Dana W., who has a beagle-Chihuahua mix, said that she brings her dog to Tompkins Square so she can socialize with other small dogs because there are rarely any dogs in the area at Madison Square’s run. “It really is a lot tinier than the others,” said Maria Lee, who owns a miniature pincher.

Few owners had little to complain about the amount of space available at Stuyvesant Square Park, but many said that they were disappointed the run has such limited hours. It is only available from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. during the week and from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on the weekends and holidays. The other runs are available any time their respective parks are open.

All of the parks have access to shovels to clean up after the dogs and Union Square has the option of bags. Most of the runs also have access to water. Madison Square’s run has a hose for owners to fill up bowls so the dogs can drink but Union Square and Tompkins Square also have pools for the dogs to jump into and completely cool off. The only problem some owners have is with how dirty the water gets.

“I’m not sure how to prevent it because the dogs just jump in,” Maxine S. said of the pools at Union Square’s run. “I wish they had a place to dump the water because the area doesn’t drain well.”

Stuyvesant Square Park is the only one of the four that doesn’t have a hose inside the fenced area of the run but water is still easily accessible.

“That’s the one thing that isn’t great about the park but the water is just right outside so it’s still not bad,” Shavulsky said.

Regular visitors to the runs said that most of the dogs they encounter are well socialized and if there are ever any problems, owners are usually quick to take care of it. However, Norrie said that she feels like the dogs at the Union Square run are generally more well behaved than those at Tompkins Square, which she also frequents because the separate run there for small dogs. “It seems like there are more rescues and untrained dogs there,” she said. “There are more fights in that one.”

A number of the owners said that they enjoy talking to other dog owners that come in. Because most people bring their pets out around the same time every day, they get to know other owners that end up out in the run with them. “There’s a nice feel about the community here,” Carstairs said of the Union Square run.

The Dog Run

For Town & Village’s Dog Days of Summer issue, we invited readers to share photos of their dogs doing tricks, making mischief or just being themselves. Fortunately, dog owners were happy to share them as well as well as a couple of photos of other animals living in the community. Thanks and keep them coming!

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