tampabay.com

Where are the area's top dog parks?

By SHARON KENNEDY WYNNE
Published September 11, 2005


So which are the top dog parks?

Dog lovers at the Upper Suncoast Dog Training Club in Clearwater seem to favor the Paw Playground at John Chesnut Sr. Park and Doggie Days at Crest Lake Park.

Tampa has two popular dog parks at Al Lopez Park and Rowlett Park in east Tampa, as well as the dog beach on Davis Islands.

Then there's the huge runs at the Mango Recreation Center in Seffner and Hillsborough County's West Park Dog Park on Occident Road.

Beaches

But what if your dog wants some sand in his paws?

The state operates a dog beach at Honeymoon Island and there are now dog parks at Sand Key and Fort De Soto beach parks.

Belleair Beach has an officially sanctioned Dog Beach accessed from the north side of the causeway. And Oldsmar has a stretch of sand at the top of Old Tampa Bay known locally as Dog Beach.

Davis Islands has a popular, though sometimes crowded, dog beach.

Unofficial dog beaches include the waterfront near North Shore Park in St. Petersburg, the beach behind Madeira Beach Middle School and Cypress Point Park near Tampa International Airport.

Owners are cautioned to pick up after and maintain control of their dogs at such unofficial parks, lest they spoil it for everyone.

For a real treat, take your dogs on a road trip to Dog Wood Park in Gainesville. There, they can play on 15 fenced acres and swim in ponds.

- Sharon Kennedy Wynne wynne@tampabay.com

Inside scoop: FloridaPets.net has a list of the official and unofficial dog parks in the area with user reviews. Check it out at www.floridapets.net/TampaBay.html

Rules of etiquette

- Dogs should be up to date on their vaccinations and have current licenses.

- Remain in the park with your pets and have them under voice control. Avoid bringing dogs with aggressive tendencies, female dogs in heat and puppies.

- Keep out young children who could be knocked over by a running pack of dogs in the park. All children should be supervised.

- Bones, treats, food and anything else that could start a squabble should not be taken into the park.

- Pick up after your pet.