Are you looking for a great place to take your dog where they can run, play and meet other furry friends? I’m excited to share 12 of the best dog parks in the city of Pittsburgh. As a Pittsburgh dog mom for over 20 years, I’ve been to almost all of these places and love to share my advice with other dog owners.
Do you want to take your furry friend to a park with a small dog area or one with wooded trails? How about someplace with water fountains for a puppy play date on a hot day? Does your dog need space and you want a private dog park? I have all your bases covered in this blog post.
In this list of the 12 best Pittsburgh area off-leash dog parks I have the traditional, public park fenced in exercise areas listed first. Then I share a few off-leash trail areas that aren’t totally fenced in. These are good if your dog has excellent recall! And finally, at the end of the list I share two private dog parks that require a fee to use.
Hartwood Acres Off Leash Dog Park
Let’s start the list with one of my favorite off-leash Pittsburgh dog parks. Hartwood Acres dog park is located off of Middle Road behind the amphitheater where summer concerts are held. It’s about a mile walk from the parking area to the off leash park. Once you’re there, you have a huge grassy area on a rolling hill with a few trees and benches.
This park is so big that you will have plenty of open space to play with your dog away from everyone else if that’s what you want. I also like that this fenced in area has 2 separate gates. The separate entrances help prevent everyone from congregating in one place or the dogs guarding the entrance. In my opinion, this gives the park a very safe feeling.
Hartwood Acres also has a trail system that you can enjoy with your dog before or after visiting the off leash area. This park is run by Allegheny County, and I think they do a great job with all of their facilities! The county also runs dog parks in Boyce Park, North Park, Settlers Cabin, South Park and White Oak and organizes the Labor Day Dog Swim in their pools.
Highland Park Off-Leash Dog Park
The newest fenced in dog park in Pittsburgh is located in Highland Park. It’s a small compared to Hartwood Acres, but generously sized for being located right in the city. What I love about this dog park is that the gate is two steps away from the curb making it really accessible. Many parks require a long walk from the parking area which can be hard for senior dogs (or senior people!).
The Highland Park dog park also has separate areas for small and big dogs. In the big dog area there’s a bench right at the gate and dog owners tend to gather there. I don’t like this because I notice it causes a lot of guarding of the gate. But once you’re in, there is a big area away in the back where you can play with your dog and get some good running in.
This off leash area is right next to a playground and a pond. So if your dog is reactive to kids or ducks and geese, be mindful of those elements.
Frick Park Off Leash Exercise Areas
If you ask most dog lovers in Pittsburgh about great places to take their furry friend, Frick Park will come up. This is the largest park in the city, covering about 644 acres with trails, water, woods (and now, a collapsed bridge!). In Frick Park there are 2 off leash exercise areas for dogs. Although the trails of Frick are great, these are my least favorite dog parks in the city. Let me tell you why.
The first Off-Leash Exercise Area (OLEA) is located off of Beechwood Blvd. It about a mile walk to the dog area behind Blue Slide Playground. This fenced in area is very large and has separate areas for large dogs and small dogs. What some pet parents (mainly single dog moms) don’t like about this off leash dog area is how secluded it is. You’re tucked away in the woods and if there is a shady person there, it can feel dangerous.
Another issue for many people is that you have to walk a mile on a combination of paved path and dirt trail to get there from the park entrance making it inaccessible for many pet owners and senior dogs.
The second off-leash area in Frick Park is known as Hot Dog Dam. It’s a much smaller area that includes a dammed up park of the creek along Lower Tranquil Trail. Hot Dog Dam is located under the Regent Square bridge that collapsed in January 2022, so be aware this dog park may not be accessible during clean up and construction. It is currently inaccessible. Also, knowing what I know about the city of Pittsburgh’s storm water management and sewage system, I wouldn’t let my dogs go in Hot Dog Dam after a rain storm.
South Park Dog Park
This is one of the few Pittsburgh dog parks I have driven by, but haven’t had a chance to take my dog to yet. But if you live near South Park, it is worth checking out. The dog park area is very big and features separate areas for small breeds and large breeds.
There is a water fountain for the dogs, which is a nice touch. Be aware that Pittsburgh area parks turn water off in the Winter. From what I hear this park can get really muddy, but you’ll have mud with every dog park on this list! If you’re a Pittsburgh dog owner, just carry dog towels in your car year round and you’ll be OK!
North Park Off Leash Dog Park
Within North Park there is a large fenced in off-leash park located off of Pearce Mill Road and Walter Road. This park is built into a hillside, so expect to tire out your dog running up and down the hill. Depending on the weather, it can get very muddy. I think that’s because a lot of water runs down the hill.
On the plus side, it’s really easy and convenient to park your car for this dog park. There’s also accessible drinking water for the dogs.
When I take my Chocolate Labrador Lucy to North Park, we are usually paddle boarding on the lake (read all about that!), so we rarely go to the dog park there.
I discovered this off leash park when I took my dogs to a movie in the park night in Riverview Park. Throughout the summer they host live music and movies in the park. It’s a really fun place to take a big blanket and your dog for a night out in the summer. Plus, with the fenced in park at the top of the hill behind the Allegheny Observatory, you can let your dog play so they are tired out when the movie starts!
This is a small fenced in off-leash dog park. But I love that it has trees to add interest and fun obstacles to play around with your dog. Plus, beyond the dog park there are trails you can explore with your dog on-leash.
Allegheny Commons Off-Leash Area
Did you know there is an unfenced off-leash area right in Allegheny Commons Park on the North Side? I’ve lived in Pittsburgh my whole life and had dogs for over 20 years and I only recently learned about this. When I went to check it out it seemed to be a lot of North Side locals, but everyone was very friendly and welcomed us as newbies.
This is the only off-leash area in a Pittsburgh City park that is not fenced in. So if you go there with your pup, make sure they stay within your eyesight at all time and listen well. It’s not a very big area, so it shouldn’t be hard to keep eyes on your dog the whole time you’re there.
This off-leash dog park area is very close to the Pittsburgh Aviary, so after you leash your dog back up, I recommend walking over there to take a peek at the vultures in the indoor/outdoor cages. It’s pretty wild to see these huge birds in the middle of an urban park!
Riding Meadows Park in Fox Chapel
If you’re looking for off-leash trails for your pup, I highly recommend Riding Meadows Park in along Squaw Run East in Fox Chapel. Although this park is not “private” is a little exclusive because the parking areas require a permit that’s $50 for the entire year for non-Fox Chapel residents (you can get one from the Cooper-Siegel Community Library). Once you have a permit to park in the lot, you and your dog can enjoy miles of trails, a creek, a large meadow area and steep hills to hike up. Here’s a trail map.
This is my favorite place to take my labs, Burt and Lucy. The parking area is right across the street from the gated entrance to the park. Then it’s just about 100 yards to the creek. That makes it really accessible to dogs of all ages and abilities. I used to take my old dog Lola there up until her final days. She loved to walk and lay in the water!
If you do go to this park, be aware it’s not 100% fenced in and there are homes along the border as well as lots of wildlife like deer. You’ll only want to go if your dog has excellent recall.
Sewickley Heights Borough Dog Park
If you want the off-leash trails Fox Chapel has to offer, but don’t want to worry about a parking permit then check out the Sewickley Heights Dog Park. This area has a very similar feel with miles of trails, open meadows and woods. Every time I’ve gone with my dogs we meet lots of nice, responsible dog owners and friendly well-trained dogs. Since this area is not 100% fenced in, its important your dog has great recall and comes when you ask them to.
Pleases be mindful of the rules at this park so we can all continue to enjoy it. Dogs are required to be on leash within 100 feet of the parking area and when on the Fern Hollow Nature Center property. There’s a trail map in the parking lot to help you know where to safely walk off-leash with your furry friend.
The trails in Sewickley are multi-use, so you might see bikers and even horses (we’ve only seen horse poop!). Just another example of why your dog will need good recall to enjoy this park!
While you’re in the Sewickley area, I recommend checking out Three Dog Bakery for some snacks or a new enrichment toy (they have a great selection!) after visiting the dog park.
Misty Pines Private Dog Park
Misty Pines is a favorite Pittsburgh place for pet parents to take their pups for training and boarding. On their property, Misty Pines also has a dog park with agility obstacles, a 2-mile trail system and a pond with a dock for your pup to dive off of. When my dog Lucy was younger we actually went to a dock diving competition at Misty Pines! Now we visit the pond for fun every summer.
In order to use the dog park facilities, you need to register your dog with Misty Pines and provide proof of vaccination (Rabies, Bordetella, DHPP). There is a $10 fee per dog per visit. As with most private dog parks, no treats, balls or toys are permitted in the fenced in play area due to resource guarding. However, treats, balls and toys ARE permitted to use on the trails and at the dog pond.
>> Learn more about private dog parks and creating a safety-first dog business in my interview with Tara Roberson, the founder of PupStars Pet Care based in Chicago.
The Indoor Dog Park Cranberry
The newest addition to the Pittsburgh dog parks scene! This is one dog park I have not been to personally, but since it’s new I wanted to include it. The website for The Indoor Dog Park Cranberry says this is, “the most exclusive dog park in the world.” With memberships starting at $90 a month, I would say it’s very exclusive! This is the only indoor dog park in the Pittsburgh area, located about 40 minutes north of the city in Cranberry.
The dog play area is open 24/7 to members and gives you access to 20,000 sqft of indoor astroturf with built in sanitation and drainage. All member doggies are required to have proof of vaccinations (Rabies, DHLPP, and Bordetella) and pass a temperament test. As with most private dog parks around the country, treats are not permitted. However this facility does allow toys like balls and frisbees.
Dog Park Safety
Whenever you take your pup to any of these Pittsburgh dog parks, avoid distractions like looking at your phone or getting too engrossed in conversation. Although your dog might be really well behaved, you have no clue who else is there. It’s always best to be extra careful any time your dog is around other off-leash dogs, especially ones you don’t know.
Looking at Misty Pines website they shared this great piece of advice that I’m planning to share with more pet owners:
- It is highly suggested that you have your dog come and sit next to you every 15 minutes while socializing at a dog park. This is to lower cortisol and adrenaline levels before they become overstimulated and behave in an inappropriate manner.
Even if everyone is behaving well at the park, there are inherent risks to be aware of.
In the first few months I had my rescue dog Burt, we were at an off leash park and I was paying more attention to the conversation with other dog parents than I was my own dogs. Burt was having fun running and chasing with another dog. Then all of a sudden, he ran up to me and we noticed blood. Somehow he had ripped a 1 inch tear in his ear! He didn’t make a sound and nobody saw anything happen, so we’re not sure exactly how he got hurt.
I felt so bad for Burt, the 5 hours we had to spend at the emergency vet for stitches and then the week of recovery time. Now I pay close attention to my dogs and make sure I can always see them. If that means being “rude” and not paying attention to a conversation, that’s OK with me!
Will there be new Pittsburgh Dog Parks?
Even though this list includes 12 dog parks, I still feel like Pittsburgh needs more and better dog exercise facilities. Many of the old ones we have are in need of updates and maintenance. In addition, as dogs become more important parts of our families, I wish the city would recognize the need for enriching dog environments is just as important as safe play grounds for kids. Yes, I said it!
If you want to lear more about SMART™ dog parks, please check out the wonderful work my friend Beth Miller is doing with her organization Wagtown. I talked to her on my podcast about how dog friendliness goes hand-in-paw with economic development and innovation. If Pittsburgh wants to be a hub for innovation, it needs to prioritize an investment in dog friendliness.
Love this post? Find lots of things to do with your dog in Pittsburgh in these posts:
SUP with Your Pup: How to Teach Your Dog the Paddleboard with You
25 Things to Do with Your Dog in Pittsburgh
The Best Dog Friendly AirBnBs in Pittsburgh
Exploring Dog-Friendly Downtown Pittsburgh