Kudos to the Miami-Dade Park Department for their recent addition of a new bark park at the south-end of Tropical Park. I’ve been there every weekend since it opened, and this park boasts more than just an enclosed field to unleash the furriest member of your family.

On the weekends, one of my favorite things to do is go to the dog park with my 3-year-old little man and my white 2-year old cotton-ball pup, Sonny. It’s a great way to tire them both out.

In the past my closest option to give Sonny some outdoor off-the-leash time  was to head to Kennedy Park in Coconut Grove. Although the park does have beautiful views of the bay,  it isn’t convenient to my South Miami home, and  the section set apart for the dogs is nothing short of a large enclosed field that quickly turns into a mud pit after a few drops of rain.  Considering I like to bring Sonny home as white as he was when we left, this used to mean dressing him up in his snazzy green “Macho Mutt” tee every time we left the house. And in the 100° Miami heat, he wasn’t always very appreciative.

Entrance

Tropical Park’s new ‘Bark Park’ is located on the lake, and provides a large secure entrance where you can be sure your dog will not escape before you enter into one of two subdivided play areas: one for dogs under 35 lbs and another for dogs over 35 lbs. Even though my petite pup plays rough, he prefers to chase the tiny terriers, so that’s where my son and I spend our time.

Small Dog Sign

The park includes a paved path surrounded by lawn areas (instead of dirt fields that can quickly become muddy), and newly planted trees that will provide shade as they mature. There are ample places to sit, from picnic tables under a tented area to benches scattered along the path. And as a  bonus for the pups, there is an obstacle course, doggie fountains and a doggie mister for those really hot afternoons.

Obstacle Park

It’s tough to find places that I enjoy visiting and that don’t bore my son to death, which is why we frequent the new bark park so much. There’s only so much time I can spend with him at the playground without going stir-crazy. Here, my son and our dog can run around (and not escape) while I relax and socialize.

fountain

The social aspect of the park is one of its great perks. There is something about people being with their dogs that makes them friendly and engaging. Several times, I have seen groups of teens (or even tweens) hanging out on the picnic benches chatting and just observing other people’s dogs running around and getting into trouble. I, on the other hand, have a good time eavesdropping on their conversations thinking to myself “Did I say things like that when I was that age?!” It’s a win-win for everyone.

One suggestion I have to improve this and future bark parks is to include a greater variety of activities within the enclosed area for all members of the family.  It would be great to include a small tot lot or playground area for my son to enjoy the park as well as for my pup. Since dogs are not allowed on playgrounds, there is nowhere where dogs and kids can play side-by-side, helping the working parents of Miami tire out their children and pets simultaneously. Well, I can dream, can’t I?

Click here to find a dog park near you!

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4 Responses to Tropical Dog Park A Success!

  1. Mike Lydon says:

    Great post Kristin!

  2. Chris G. says:

    FYI, there is still Blanche Park in the Grove, it’s much better than the park in Kennedy (even with the large trees being removed a few months back).
    That being said, I have taken my (almost) two year old Schnoodle, Bailey to the bark park a few times nwo and everytime there is a nice crowd for dogs in both areas. There is one flaw to the park though that I have found. Kristen doesn’t have any pictures of them, but the standard metal “Miami” park benches are not the best for the park, mainly the small dog side. Why? Well, whenever my pup tires and needs a break, he likes to come over to my wife and I and sit with us for a few minutes, usually jumping right onto the bench. The way the benches are made, approx 2″ metal slats, spaced about 3″ on center, creating a 1″ gap between them, isn’t the best thing for small dogs whose paws can easily get stuck in them. For those who know dogs, you know that if you hold your pooch’s paw long enough, he’ll jerk and fidget and try to get free. While you’ll let go, the bench won’t. This could cause some injuries to pups. I will say that there are some picnic tables too, made of wood, and those are ok, but the park benches need to either go or be modified.

  3. Tony Garcia says:

    I agree Chris. Not to mention they get really hot, which was my big beef with the benches.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The Bark Park at Tropical is wonderful. I have visited there a number of times since it opened. My dog enjoys it and so do I. However, I have noticed some people visiting the dog park are not very considerate. Some people take dogs that are a little too aggressive and when their dog acts out they don’t leave or remove the dog. Others fail to clean up after their own dogs. I have seen “terrier mixes” (pit bulls) there. I don’t think this is safe. There’s a reason they are outlawed in Miami-Dade. Visitor are not abiding by the weight areas restrictions. Heavier dogs, those over 35 pounds, can easily injure smaller dogs. Visitors seem to believe that if it is a puppy it is okay, but they should really stick to the weight rule. Most of the time the doggy poop scoop bags are gone and the trash is filled to the brim. Make sure to take your own bag.

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