Press Releases

Thursday, May 10, 2007
No. 55

Parks Barks Official Off-leash Hours Policy

Today, the Parks Department announced the finalized rules concerning off-leash dogs in parks. The successful “courtesy hours” policy is now officially part of Parks’ rules and regulations. With proof of a current rabies vaccination and license information, owners can allow dogs to run off-leash in certain designated areas in certain parks from the time the park opens until 9:00 a.m. and from 9:00 p.m. until the park closes. The designated areas are listed on the Parks website: Over the past 20 years, this policy has kept parks and neighborhoods safer, allowed owners to exercise and socialize their dogs, and reduced the number of dog bites.

“Through a public process, the Parks Department codified the successful, long-standing “courtesy hours” policy for the benefit of all New Yorkers,” said Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “We know that a tired dog is a good dog and for the last two decades, this policy has made parks safer and has allowed dog owners to exercise and socialize their pets.”

Parks are grouped into four designated categories: 1) No dogs allowed; 2) Dogs must be on-leash at all times; 3) Designated dog run; and 4) Designated off-leash area. Dog owners must be able to show proof that dogs are currently licensed and vaccinated against rabies, as required by New York State and City law.

Not all parks will have off-leash hours. In some areas, dogs are prohibited at all times (e.g. playgrounds, ballfields, zoos, swimming pools, basketball and tennis courts). Parks with a dog run (an enclosed area where dog owners may allow their pets to exercise and socialize themselves unleashed) usually do not also have off-leash areas. For a full list of off-leash areas, dog runs, and all Parks Rules & Regulations concerning dogs in parks, visit

Allowing responsible dog owners to exercise their dogs is good for the community. Dog owners are community members who regularly visit parks and have a vested interest in keeping parks clean and safe. A constant presence, especially at night when parks are less crowded, helps keep parks and the surrounding neighborhoods safe.

Codifying the City’s “courtesy hours” was a long process that encouraged community input and the response was overwhelmingly supportive of the policy. The Department of Health voted to adopt the amendment to the Health Code to make explicit Parks’ authority to amend Parks rules. The Parks Department welcomed community feedback and held a public hearing followed by a period to review comments. The rules become official today.

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