Local Dog Parks Offer Pets Open Spaces and Special Events

By: Karen Dybis | September 21, 2020

Photo Courtesy of Capitol Park.

Dogs are not only man’s best friends, but they can be one of the best workout buddies around if you consider those daily walks and trips to a nearby dog park as exercise between you and your furry companions. 

During the coronavirus quarantines and remote-work shifts, dogs have enjoyed what some people might call their ‘Golden Age.’ Their owners are home more, looking for outdoor activities and are game for multiple walks a day. Getting out of the house also means going to parks where dogs can hang out with one another, get some runs in and enjoy new experiences, like agility courses. 

Frequently, those walks take owners and dogs on new adventures, and a dog park is a great spot to try out if you’re looking to socialize your dog and meet other dog owners. There are dozens of beautiful dog parks in Metro Detroit, many featuring unique amenities and shady spots for owners and onlookers. 

What also makes Metro Detroit dog parks a great location is the special events that take place within these spaces. In Detroit, the Downtown Detroit Partnership has created seasonal programming for its dog parks, giving owners something to look forward to trying as well as making each trip to these parks a reason to live and play downtown. 

The ‘ruff’ job of entertaining dogs and dog owners with special events goes to David Cowan, Director of Programming, Public Spaces with the Downtown Detroit Partnership. He focuses on the DDP’s green spaces, which include Campus Martius Park, Cadillac Square, Capitol Park, Grand Circus Park, and Beacon Park.

These parks attract millions of visitors annually through a wide array of cultural events and programming. Putting together events for dogs might not seem like the most glamourous parts of the jobs, but it’s actually fun and offers some of the most memorable events the parks host, Cowan noted. 

“COVID has presented us with a unique year, so we really had to think about how to adapt these programs for the times and still be a driver for bringing people downtown,” Cowan said. “Both residents and businesses in the neighborhood rely on these kinds of events to sustain the area.” 

For example, the Yappy Hour scheduled for Sept. 26 at Grand Circus Park will feature an afternoon of Dog-Beer and Dog-Wine with Dog-hors d’oeuvres. There also will be a few games and trivia while everyone enjoys a much-needed beverage of their choice.

Another popular event is the Oct. 24 Halloween Costume Contest, Cowan said. People go all out for this event, dressing up their dogs in great outfits. There also is a prize for the best-dressed pet, so be prepared to vote and get involved, he said. 

“These events not only showcase what it’s like to live downtown and the amenities you have here but also supports pet-friendly businesses,” Cowan said. “They also give you a chance to meet your neighbors and strike up conversations. It’s what creates a cultural fabric for downtown.” 

Here are five great Metro Detroit dog parks to check out with your favorite pooch:

Grand Circus Dog Park

This park is located in the eastern half of Grand Circus Park near Comerica Park. It opened in 2014 and has become a huge meeting spot for people and dogs. Free, interactive programs are offered throughout the year for dogs and owners. The park’s grounds offer lots of room for many dogs to interact in a safe and relaxed environment. The dog park is open daily year-round, from 6 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Detroit Dog Park

This locally developed dog park is inside Corktown at the corner of 17th Street and Rose Street in Macomb Park. Detroit Dog Park is an organization that turns vacant land into parks for dogs and people. This is its first park, which opened in May 2014. It is open to the public to use and there are no additional fees to dog owners who want to gather here. 

Midtown Dog Park

Midtown’s favorite dog park is located at the corner of Cass Avenue and West Canfield Street. This park is unique because it has turf instead of grass as well as pet-waste stations, water fountains and fenced-in areas for small dogs. Midtown Detroit Dog Park also features picnic tables for those who want to sit or eat something from one of the many food trucks that hang out in the area. Midtown Detroit Dog Park is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Statler Maloof Dog Park

St. Clair Shores loves its Statler Maloof Dog Park, which is located at 8 mile and Harper inside Herman Brys Park. It is a huge 53,842 square feet of fenced in space named after the local resident and well-known businessman, Fred Maloof and his 12-year-old dog Statler. There are picnic tables and small overhead rain shelters are located within the park. The park is also divided into two areas, a larger area for large dogs, and a small play area for small dogs. You need a membership to use this dog park, but it is well worth it, members say.

Orion Oaks Dog Park

This Lake Orion dog park is one of the largest in Oakland County and is part of the Oakland County parks system. Orion Oaks Dog Park has a 24-acre fenced enclosure with a small dog area. It also includes two trails, picnic shelter, drinking water, field area, modern restrooms and access to Lake Sixteen for swimming (dogs only).