Let’s get past the barking and right to the wagging: If you’re a dog and you live in Seattle, you’ve got it pretty good. With 11 off-leash dog parks, countless of fellow doggy friends and masters who will pamper you with treats galore, you have no reason to whine.
Seattle continues to be one of the most dog-friendly cities in the country (with the city housing more dogs than children), with all the accommodations, amenities and love a dog could ever need.
Dog owners and lovers all over the city provide many tricks of the trade when it comes to taking care of man’s best friend — from park tips, to restaurant advice, from shelter info to leash guidance.
“Bring toys to off-leash dog parks only if they don’t care if other dogs get really interested in it,” said Kelly McIntyre, owner of 2-year-old mutt, Chica, and who frequently patrons Seattle’s off-leash dog parks. “While most people are totally fine with other dogs playing with the toy that they brought, every once in a while you see, ‘No! That’s mine — get away!’”
McIntyre also said that bringing treats to off-leash dog park areas may not be the wisest of decisions.
“I stopped bringing treats because it attracted too much attention,” she said. “They all smelled the treats in my pocket.”
Seattle Parks and Recreation provides 11 off-leash dog parks in Seattle: Dr. Jose Rizal Park, Genesee Park and Playfield, Golden Gardens Park, I-5 Colonnade, Northacres Park, Plymouth Pillars Park, Regrade Park, Warren G. Magnuson Park, Westcrest Park, Woodland Park and Blue Dog Pond.
Seattle Parks has a list of protocols that owners must obey when at an off-leash area, including paying for injury caused by an owner’s dog, muzzling a dog that is biting, cleaning up after the dog and excluding the off-leash privilege for dogs younger than four months.
Dogs are not allowed to play at organized athletic fields, beaches or children’s areas in Seattle parks.
Seattle officers patrol Seattle parks to ensure the safe and appropriate use of both off-leash and on-leash areas. Fines for off-leash, license and scooping violations range from $50 to $150 and can be $500 at a beach.
McIntyre also addressed the non-dog person phenomenon (a situation where others experience anxiety around dogs): She said she’s fortunate she doesn’t deal with that problem with her current dog.
“My aunt is a non-dog person,” McIntyre said. “The lucky thing about this dog is that she wants to be friends with everyone and greet everyone. But if she senses that someone’s ignoring her or not really into her, she’ll leave them alone.”
Not surprisingly, Seattle has a booming dog-walker economy.
“I walk seven dogs a day — most of them are individual walks,” said Eldana Kraszewski, professional dog-walker in the Central Area.
She said she prefers individual walks over dog parks, as it effectively cuts unwanted flare: “Because of the drama at dog parks, I prefer individual walks where the dog is on the leash and you have more control. I only walk up to three dogs – that’s as much as I want to be in charge of. I think it’s admirable for people to walk a pack of 10 dogs, but it gets kind of hectic. You have to clean up after them, too.”
Kraszewski also mentioned the importance of responsible pet ownership.
“For the most part, people are really good about taking ownership of their dogs and being responsible for what their dogs do,” she said. “Once in a while, you have the random person who doesn’t really care or doesn’t think it’s their responsibility, but those are few.”
Seattle is home to the Seattle Humane Society (SHS), a private, nonprofit animal-welfare organization that cares for thousands of abandoned pets each year.
Last year, the SHS placed 6,091 adopted pets with new owners, provided volunteer foster families for more than 3,000 animals and recruited more than 1,400 volunteers who helped walk dogs, brush cats and assist veterinary services, according to SHS literature.
“My wife is a volunteer dog walker at the dog shelter near Ballard,” said Allen Temple, owner of shelter-rescued Stanley. “It’s sad that so many dogs get brought in, but it’s actually quite encouraging because they do such a great job of adopting dogs.”
Temple also expressed his satisfaction at the success of the shelter.