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New York City's 6 Best Dog Runs

New York City is full of great dog walks, runs and parks. City parks have four designations for dogs: no dogs allowed, dogs on leash, off-leash and dog runs. There also are many great running courses for you and your best friend. Nevertheless, given all the different types of dogs and dog owners, preferences vary widely. By Jessica Allen.

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Tompkins Square Park Dog Run offers man's - and woman's - best friends 18,500 square feet of open space, bone-shaped doggie pools, a "puppy patch" for the little guys, and even a dog wash. It also stands as a symbol of the neighborhood's regeneration. In fact, the dog run, the city's first, helped the park transition from the site of several violent riots and a large homeless encampment into its peaceful present. Now the most chilling creatures come out on Halloween, when this East Village institution hosts its annual dog parade and costume party, featuring crazy get-ups like the Hulk (pictured).

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A recent redesign has seen the dog runs in Washington Square Park shifted eastward. That's plural: a big dog run for big dogs, and a small dog run for smaller ones. Both boast a beautiful view of the arch and the fountain. On any given day you can see Yorkshire terriers and poodles, labs and golden retrievers, some of the city's most popular (pupular?) breeds, in addition to NYU students, buskers, tourists, actors, kids, teenagers, office workers, and everyone else who flocks to this Greenwich Village park.

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At two acres, the Hillside Dog Park & Run gives pooches of all sizes enough room to roam. The park was created with leftover land donated by the city after finishing the Brooklyn Queens Expressway in the 1940s. Created in 2000, its dog park is cut into a hill (hence the name), and is full of trees and woodsy ephemera, including wood chips made from recycled Christmas trees. In the winter, the dogs often share the space with kids who sled down the hills. And unlike many parks, this one is open 24-7-365.

(credit: Raffi Asdourian / @zaffi, photo of his dog, Stanley)

We love this dog park first for its alliteration: Canine Court at Van Cortlandt Park is just plain fun to say. But it also has its own canine agility playground, including a teeter-totter, hurdles, tunnels, and hanging tire specially designed for puppies, as well as a big open field. On leash, dogs might also enjoy wandering around the other 1,000 acres that make up this park in the Bronx. As one of the largest parks in New York City, it includes playgrounds, a freshwater lake, a brook, a forest, the oldest house in the Bronx, and the first public golf course in the United States.

Golden Retriever
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Of course, dog runs are for dogs, but dogs generally mean people, and people aren't always as impressed with sandy, soft-on-the-paws gravel and squeaky toys. Dog Run 105 on the Upper West Side caters to dogs' two-legged companions with various meetups and volunteer opportunities (the dog run is publicly owned but privately maintained). For more information about ongoing renovations, follow the dog run on Twitter.

(credit: Garrett Ziegler)

While not technically a dog run, this Queens park has given us many a happy hour playing with new-found dog friends. In 1986, a group of Long Island City artists got together and transformed an illegal landfill next to the East River into an outdoor museum. Today, Socrates Sculpture Park hosts frequent events, including movies and concerts, and offers residencies to artists. But it's also a favorite of picnickers and daytrippers and dog owners, whose charges often run unfettered among the large outdoor pieces, a practice that's not technically allowed by the park, as most dogs can't tell the difference between a fire hydrant and an art installation.

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