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6 Private Dog Parks for NYC’s Slobbery Social Elite

New York’s hottest clubs are members-only dog runs.

by Madeleine Aggeler
February 28, 2022
A pug sitting on a bench outside next to a fire hydrant.

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For being, as Alicia Keys once famously proclaimed, a “concrete jungle where dreams are made of,” there are a surprisingly amount of spaces around New York City for dogs to run and play. There are free, public dog runs all around town and off-leash hours in Central Park, Prospect Park, and others. But for some pups and their owners, these spaces can quickly become too crowded and overwhelming. Enter the private dog park. For owners willing and able to pay the occasionally extravagant fees, these members-only spaces offer more space, fewer crowds, and various, location-specific amenities like zen rock gardens or trainers to supervise pups’ play. Plus, most require all dogs to be up-to-date on their vaccines, so you can rest assured that your dog will remain safe and healthy. Below, some of the most popular private dog parks in the city.

The Soho Grand Dog Park

The recently redesigned dog park adjacent to the chic Soho Grand Hotel features a small pond, a zen rock garden, fire hydrant water stations for dogs to rehydrate, and free hotel wifi for pet parents who might want to get some work done while their dog romps. The dog park is free for guests of the hotel, but non-guests can also enjoy it for a $795 annual membership fee.  

West Village D.O.G. Run

For $245 a year, members of the West Village D.O.G. (Dog Owners Group) Run get a key fob that allows them to access the 24/7 enclosed park with soft, asphalt paving, benches, drinking bowls, tennis balls, baggies, paper towels, and cleaning supplies. According to the run’s site, membership is capped at a little over 300 families due to insurance and space constraints, but if they fill up, there is also a waitlist for would-be members and their pups. 

The Mercer-Houston Dog Run Association

One of the oldest and more affordable options on the list, the Mercer-Houston Dog Run — located, as you might have guessed, on the corner of Mercer St. and West Houston — has been open since 1981 and costs $60 per dog per year, or $30 per dog for seniors (62 and up). All new members must attend a 35-minute orientation to familiarize themselves and their dog with the park and its rules (for example: no choke collars, no toddlers, and no food). The park is fairly bare bones; it consists of a fenced-in concrete area, a plastic, bone-shaped pool, some benches, and a hose to help with hydration and hygiene. 

Astro’s Dog Run

A little oasis tucked away in Hell’s Kitchen, Astro’s Dog Run is one of the more affordable private dog parks in the city. For just $40 a year, you can access the 80-foot-long run 24/7 and sit in one of its many cute, mismatched chairs, under the shade of its trees and planters while your pup romps around in the gravel. Astro’s was started in 1998 and named after a Shepherd mix who lived in the area. It was closed for a year during the pandemic while the Port Authority renovated the surrounding area, but was recently reopened. 40 keys have been distributed to members. (The website appears to still be under construction, but check it out in person for info on how to join.)

School for the Dogs

School for the Dogs, just west of Tompkins Square Park, offers the city’s only trainer-supervised off-leash dog run. This guarantees a safer, more curated experience for dogs who might get overwhelmed at traditional parks. There is also a dedicated “Zen Zone” for dogs if things get too rowdy. But all of this comes at a price. It’ll set you back $200 a month or $2,200 a year for five 45-minute sessions a month at their 1,000-square foot enclosed “school yard.” 

Jackson Heights Canine Recreation Wonderland

If you’re getting sticker shock from some of these membership fees, here’s an alternative: The Jackson Heights Canine Recreation Wonderland (JHCRW), on 69th St. between 34th and 35th avenues, is free! Wannabe members must submit an application, and there is an optional suggested donation that helps provide maintenance and supplies for the park, but it is not required for membership. The volunteer-managed space is spacious and offers separate areas for big dogs and little dogs to play, so smaller pups won’t get pushed around too much by bigger, overenthusiastic friends, and bigger dogs can roughhouse with someone their own size.

madeleine aggeler

Madeleine Aggeler

Madeleine Aggeler is a freelance journalist and copywriter in Austin, Texas. Previously, she was a writer at New York magazine’s The Cut. She lives with her dog, Cleo, who works primarily as a foot warmer.