Houston has several dog parks, from tiny, private "for residents use only" parks in gated communities to huge sections of wooded acreage. In deciding what makes a good dog park, we looked at amenities and features that are attractive to both dogs and humans. Ponds and pools were a big draw (got to cool off in this Texas heat), beauty not so much. Safety, for both dogs and humans, was also an important factor. Here's our list of Houston's top 10 dog parks; see who made the list and who didn't.
10. Baytown Bark Park at Jenkins Park 4334 Crosby Cedar Bayou)
It was location that pushed the Baytown Bark Park at Jenkins Park so far down our list. Baytown is a bit of a trek just to visit a dog park, but if you're in the area, it's certainly worth a visit. The five acre park (four acres for large dogs, one acre for small dogs) was designed with the help of the Baytown Kennel Club and includes large grass and bark-covered lawns, walking trails, agility equipment, benches, drinking fountains and shaded areas.
9. Danny Jackson Family Dog Park 4700 Westpark
We considered beauty to be only a minor factor in our selection, as evidenced by the inclusion of the Danny Jackson Family Dog Park. It ain't pretty, but it is a dog's delight. Long, thin lawns give pets room to take a good run. The fact that those lawns stretch out under a line of massive transmission towers and power lines is a factor only for the human visitors. There are no shade trees (remember those nearby power lines?) but there are two ponds, benches and a walking path that connects the large and small dog areas.
8. Ervan Chew Dog Park 4502 Dunlavy
This is the park that was the first to allow dogs to legally run free, off-leash. The space isn't as ample as some of our other choices, but it does have a nice, neighborhood feel to it. The park features a double gated fence, benches, large trees, water fountains, pick up bags and bark ground cover.
7. Maxey Bark Park and Run Park 601 Maxey Rd.
We're going to overlook the redundancy in Maxey Bark Park and Run Park's name, and get right to the good part: Maxey Park has 13 acres of wooded parkland for dogs. There are separate fenced-in spaces for large and small dogs, drinking fountains, dog shower, waste disposal station and plenty of benches under tall, shady trees.
6. Bear Branch Dog Park, The Woodlands 5200 Research Forest Dr.
This is a small (just two acres or so) park with a double-gated fence, lots of shade, separate large and small dog sections, two water features, benches, dog waste bags and waste containers. Note: no children under 9 years old allowed in the park.
5. T.C. Jester Dog Park 4201 West T.C. Jester Blvd
At just over one acre total, T. C. Jester Dog Park is the smallest on our list, but also one of the most popular. The park features a double-gated fence, separate ares for large and small dogs, drinking fountains, benches, large, shady trees and washing stations. Baseball fields and a public swimming pool are nearby.
4. Market Square Park Dog Runs 301 Milam
Sitting in the shadows of Houston's downtown skyscrapers, the Market Square Park dog runs were dedicated in the name of local advocate Holly Anawaty and feature separate fenced reas for large and small dogs, water features, water fountains, benches and paths.
3. Bill Archer Bark Park 3201 Hwy 6
At 20-plus acres, Bill Archer Bark Park is among the largest canine-centric recreational parks in the area. It has a double-gated fence, separate large and small dog areas, each with its own large swimming pond and agility equipment, dog showers, water fountains, benches, walking trails, lots of shaded areas and green lawns. The variety of activities give dogs plenty to choose from, so we suggest you plan on a long visit every time you go. Did we say the swimming ponds are large? So sorry, we actually meant to say h-u-g-e.
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Again with the cumbersome names! The Discovery Green dog runs have separate fenced areas for large and small dogs, crushed gravel ground cover, drinking fountains and benches. One of the main draws to this park is that it's part of a larger, multi-use park that features performances, ice skating, festivals, food vendors and lots more.
1. Millie Bush Bark Park 16756 Westheimer Pkwy
Spread out over 13 acres, Millie Bush Bark Park snags our top spot. The park has double-gated fencing, separate large and small dog areas, swimming ponds, dog showers, water fountains, shaded areas, benches, trees and a walking path. Picnic benches and restrooms are located just outside the park.