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Dogs and Boston Parks

We welcome dogs and their owners to City of Boston parks. We have information about dog recreation spaces, and our rules and regulations regarding your beloved pets.

Eric the terrier

The Boston Parks and Recreation Department welcomes all City residents to enjoy our neighborhood parks. We are stewards of a park system that must cater to a wide cross-section of users. Not all of our patrons are dog owners or dog lovers.  Dogs are welcome in our parks as long as the rules are followed.

While most dogs may be well-behaved, we have to consider the health and safety of others. We want other dog owners, joggers, pedestrians, and children to all enjoy their time in our parks.

Making sure he follows all the rules, Eric the Boston terrier (pictured above) enjoys a day at Millennium Park in West Roxbury.

Rules for parks

Dogs are welcome as long as they are leashed  


This is for the safety of the dogs themselves, as well as other park users. Under the Parks Rules and Regulations, leashes are permitted up to a length of eight feet, allowing dogs to run while the owner retains control over their pet. The exceptions for leashes are in our designated Dog Recreation Spaces.

Dogs are not welcome in any areas specifically designated for children. These include tot lots, play areas, sandboxes, ball fields, or other fenced areas.  This restriction is meant to ensure public safety and provide a clean and safe environment for children to play in.


Three pups on leashes
These three little guys know they're welcome in Boston parks as long as they're on leashes and stay out of children's play areas.

Scoop the poop!

Our park system is welcoming and dog-friendly. As long as owners are mindful of regulations regarding their pets, dogs are a welcome living ingredient in our park system. 

We want to ensure that all park users can experience safe, clean, and green open space in the City of Boston. Owners are legally required to clean up after their pets. Dog waste should be collected in a plastic bag and placed in a proper trash receptacle.  The Boston Water and Sewer Commission provides the following helpful "Scoop the Poop!" information:

How to Properly Dispose of Pet Waste  
  • Take a plastic bag with you when walking your dog to pick up pet waste. Put the bag into a trash can. 
  • Never dispose of pet waste in catch basins. They collect stormwater and carry it directly into public waterways. 
  • Dog droppings cannot be used as fertilizer.
  • Never place pet waste near a tree or in soil because the bacteria in pet waste are potentially harmful.
Why Scoop?

Picking up after your pet protects our health and the environment. Pet waste contains potentially harmful bacteria which can cause stomach illnesses and rashes in humans. When left on the street, pet waste can be carried by rain or melting snow into catch basins. These drain directly to waterways, such as the Charles River, Neponset River, Mystic River, and Boston Harbor.

It’s the Law

The City of Boston has a dog fouling ordinance, Section 16-1.10A of the City Code, also known as the “Pooper Scooper Law”. The law requires that pet owners properly dispose of waste left by their pets.  Boston is a beautiful and historic city that is rated “very walkable”. However, we will only stay that way if everyone does their part to keep Boston clean.   So put it in a trash barrel, don’t leave it on the sidewalk!

Dog Recreation Spaces

Active spaces

Currently we have designated off-leash dog recreation spaces in these locations:

  • Downer Avenue Playground at 40 Downer Avenue in Dorchester
  • Garvey Playground at 340 Neponset Avenue in Dorchester
  • Ronan Park at 92 Mt. Ida Road in Dorchester
  • Peters Park at 230 Shawmut Avenue in the South End, and
  • DeFilippo Playground at 135 Prince Street in the North End.

Boston Common also has an off-leash space that rotates to different lawn sections of the park. Look for the signage and other dog owners for the current location.  The Friends of the Public Garden sub-group Common Canine manages the parcels and has a current parcel map on their webpage.

Planning for the Future

We plan to open an additional dog recreation space serving the Allston / Brighton community in 2022:

  • Smith Playground at 235 Western Avenue

About Animal Care and Control

In 2019, the Parks family grew as Boston Animal Care and Control moved from Inspectional Services to the Parks and Recreation Department.

The Division operates from an administrative office located at 1010 Massachusetts Avenue and an animal care facility located on Mahler Road in Roslindale.

Animal Care and Control employs animal control officers who are available to respond to calls for help around the clock. They enforce City ordinances and state laws and patrol City parks. They also pick up stray dogs and cats, and help sick and injured wildlife.

Animal Care and Control

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