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The Woodland Park off-leash area: a review

What do you think? (20 Comments) January 1, 2011 at 6:33AM

Here’s the latest from contributor Sarah Heath.  Sarah, a real estate broker with Matrix Real Estate, writes about North Seattle life on her personal blog, North Seattle Sarah.  On Saturdays, Sarah brings us her musings on life in Green Lake.

Are you interested in writing for My Green Lake?  Drop us a line at mygreenlake [at]

Last week, I took a trip to the Woodland Park off-leash area.  I was excited to go for two reasons – one, it is walking distance from home.  Two, it was pouring rain outside, so I thought I might get lucky and get the space to myself (or near enough).  Lola is a friendly dog, but nervous in big crowds of rambunctious dogs and would rather play fetch with me than play with the other kids.

Well, I never quite made it into the off-leash park.  I made it to the entrance gate, where nine medium-to-large, very dirty dogs ran up to the fence, each one barking like they were protecting a junk yard, while the two people in the whole place were up at the other end of the park with another three or four other dogs.  No one called their dog back so we could get in the gate, and I got the feeling that all these dogs had known each other for a very long time and had probably come in the same large van together.  Lola, poor thing, stuck her tail between her legs and cried so much that I just turned around and walked back to Green Lake.

If we had gotten in, I don’t think we would have had very much fun.  The space is a little less than an acre, which sounds big but in real life isn’t much.  It’s also set on a slope, so quite a large part of it isn’t very usable.

While I do praise Citizens for Off-Leash Areas for providing and maintaining the spot, I wish that I hadn’t bothered going.  It’s great if you have an extremely outgoing dog that enjoys a good loud wrestling match with ten of it’s closest friends.  But it doesn’t work for someone like me, who has a runner/swimmer dog that shies away from rough play.  So, I continue my quest to find the closest, calmest off-leash spot for Lola.

20 Responses to “The Woodland Park off-leash area: a review”

  1. Reggie the dog says:

    Its called a dog park, people take dogs there, who cares if it is 1 or 9 dogs in the park. Socialize your precious snowflake, or utilize the small dog/shy dog part of the park. Dogs bark, its their nature, your nervousness contributes to your dogs issues. You should just move.

    • Growupreggie says:

      Awww, our very own snotty wittle internet tuff guy! Isn’t that adorable?

    • horseknuckle says:

      Oh no you didn’t. Just because it is an “off-leash” area doesn’t mean it is a free-for-all or a place where a dog owner can take a dog and simply let it run amok. I am a dog owner and lover, but that certainly doesn’t mean I want to be accosted by your mangy, muddy, ill-behaved dog while you sit on the park bench sending text messages. And neither do my dogs—they want to play fetch with me and they do not want to be assaulted by ill-mannered mongrels.

      The problem with the dog park is inconsiderate dog owners. I don’t understand this “bully” attitude, and I am sick of it. You live in the city. Everyone in the city has to share space and resources. Get your dogs under control. Better yet, you move. Buy yourself your own private space where you can exercise your prerogative to be inconsiderate, because you simply can’t do it in the public space.

      HK (the bully’s bully)

  2. Klopeda says:

    I’ve been there and few times and yeah “wishing I hadn’t gone” is right on the mark. Too many aggressive dogs with owners that don’t pay attention to them. Also, it’s extremely muddy and gross. As much as we try the local dog parks it’s Marymoor Park that it always worth the drive.

    • nseattlesarah says:

      Marymoor is absolutely worth the drive! (aren’t we lucky we live in a state where you can just go a short distance to about anything?) Since there were way more dogs there than people when I went, I would say that these are dog-walker dogs arriving in packs. There’s just not enough space for everyone to be able to run and play. Richmond Beach is a favorite of mine too – room for everyone and have never run into a non-friendly dog (fingers crossed).

  3. RL says:

    While the Woodland Park dog park might not be your cup of tea, and while I realize this is just your review (and thus your opinion) of the park, I hope that people realize that this dog park (and all the other dog parks) are extremely well appreciated by dog owners.

    Personally, I prefer to drive to Magnuson rather than the Woodland park, because it’s bigger and I can walk as well as my dog. However, Woodland is nice to pop into when time is very short.

    I’ve also noticed that the time of day you go to Woodland is more important than the weather. Going in the morning, I see that there are a group of *people* who seem to go every day and know each other (and each other’s dogs) well. So, not just dogs socializing – people too.

  4. Guest says:

    My understanding is there used to be a nice large dog park in Lower Woodland but it got decommissioned for some reason, and what’s there now — the world’s gloomiest, muddiest, hilliest, worst-designed dog park in the universe — was put there as a “just as good” replacement.

    Someone with more history in the area than me could probably confirm/deny that. In the meantime, they should call it “Here’s your @#$#@$ dog park.”

  5. chris1 says:

    The perfect dog park with only perfectly behaved dogs doesn’t exist. I know tons of people that won’t have anything to do with dog parks (including Marymoor, where I’ve seen some terrible dog conflicts) because it only takes one bad apple…A percentage of people are just jerks, and some of these jerks own dogs. My dog is very well socialized and knows how to avoid unstable and aggressive dogs, so I have no problems taking him. But most people I know with shy or not well socialized dogs won’t go, and rightly so.

    Now that I think about it, I can’t remember ever seeing a real conflict at the Woodland Park dogpark. Marymoor has had the worst I’ve seen, and my dearly departed dog was attacked at Magnuson. But that doesn’t mean you’re more or less likely to have problems at those parks–like I said earlier, jerks are everywhere.

    It sounds like a playgroup for shy/less socialized dogs would be a better solution for you.

  6. Unfortunately, the Woodland Park off-leach area is about the worst one there is. We don’t go there at all. There is a nice off-leash area at North Acres Park at 128th and 1st NE, but we have only been there in summer …. might not be so great in winter.

  7. Arose says:

    Woodland is by far the dirtiest and least enjoyable of all the municipal dog parks. I would recommend Northacres (3rd and 125th). The people there are awesome, and the community comes together once a month to volunteer doing cleaning and basic upkeep. Magnusson is also great due to the large space, but I have found that some of the dog walkers don’t know what they are doing at time, leading to situation similar to the one you experienced.

  8. Love the Pups says:

    I lived blocks from this park, and it is known for having inconsiderate owners and very aggressive, and sometimes downright dangerous dogs. A friend’s beloved boxer was violently attacked by 2 dogs in November – while the owners sat and watched! The dog had several stitches – and of course the owners are no where to be found. I have 3 very social dogs, but only managed to take them once in the 7 years I lived there without having an incident. This is one dog park that could use some serious animal control folks monitoring this park. It’s supposed to be for good owners and non-violent dogs.

  9. Enough's enough says:

    How about a REAL dog park in Woodland Park? Who’s with me?

  10. walkindogs says:

    The park has 3 entrances so if there are dogs at one entrance, you can go to another! Dogs are dogs and somelike to bark at things outside of fences. Some dont know how to greet dogs that come in the gate. But they will smell, wiggle and then go on their merry way back to what they were doing.
    I agree that some owners dont watch their dogs and thats frustrating, but if we are awareof our dogs then we can be good examples and be aware of whats going on. I always say to people that dont pick up their dogs poop.. hey your pupleft you a present. Its non aggressive and lets them know they need to clean up .
    I think the best time to go to the park is when the dog walkers are ther. I am one of them and we all know dog behavior and body language. We can prevent a fight before it starts just by watching body language. We know whats play barking/growling and when its getting a little too rough. I think the dog park is what y

    • walkindogs says:

      I think the dog park is what you make of it. Yes it gets muddy, but I love when the dogs get dirty and muddy, means they had fun. I just hose em off before they go home:)
      Ok thats it! This forum keeps freezing my comp,lol!

    • nseattlesarah says:

      I do agree with you that in GENERAL, at dog parks, people are good, watch their dogs, and pay attention. But I’ve been to lots of off-leash parks, and this is the first time I flat out didn’t want to go in. I don’t mind dirty and muddy, but the inconsiderate owners are the ones that ruin it for everyone else.

    • Anonymous says:

      walkindogS claimed: “I think the best time to go to the park is when the dog walkers are ther.”

      DISAGREE. You might be the bestest dog walker in the world, but how many dogs do you have with you? How many eyes do you have?
      I’ve had nothing but trouble from the dog packs of dogwalkers and never a serious issue with dogs in general. I have a normal well adjusted and well socialized dog, but like a lot of people around here I stopped going to this dog park BECAUSE OF the dog walkers. Too many dogs, too much missed poop, too much mess and problems to deal with anymore. You’ve taken over the park for your private business at the expense of the community and pushed everyone else out.
      The city should ban commercial dog walkers from the dog parks. Maybe then you could get your own property to run your business on instead of wrecking our park at our expense.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Dog parks in Seattle have cost me 1000 dollars in vet bills. Bitten 3 times[one yr. old Dane] one that required stitches[worried about infection] and a baterial infection which attacked the hair folicals[at Magnuson]. Lower Woodland was ill conceived. The problem is usually the owners who don’t pay attention to what their dog is doing and try to socialize them by letting them sort things out by themselves.It will be a cold day in hell when I return……….Juan from Ballard

  12. dogsrlove says:

    Another Woodland Park Dog Walker piping up here: it is a dirty park. Thats obvious, they have to turn the hose off in winter to keep it from freezing, so there is little recourse when your dog plays in the mud (which is everywhere)!

    Quick Dog Lesson: Leashes translate anxiety- especially when you pull on them. If an owner comes up to the gate with a nervous disposition I GUARANTEE this will translate to your dog, as well as dogs watching form inside the gate. You are basically telling your dog, ‘Yes, you should be scared of all those other dogs, they are scary’ when puilling tightly on the leash and being yourself- apprehensive. Dogs may not be critical thinkers, but they are excellent body language interpreters, as well as olfactory smellers (I dont have any data to back me up right this second, but i’m fairly certain people give off a scent when nervous that dogs smell). So thats point #1.

    Point #2: Lingering outside the gate on a busy day. Bad idea. For anyone. Yes, we dogwalkers have regular dogs that come to the park. Dogs are hardwired to protect their turfs. They bark at people who are spending too much time lurking on the outsides of their turf. Once the gate is open and a dog can come inside (even if their scared), the dogs inside the park quiet down immediately. I can strongly attest to this. DONT bring your dog inside on a leash. It may seem like a good idea, but once again you will translate fear to your dog and reinforce the action that fear should be felt around new dogs. You dont want your dog to feel this way, you want your dog to think “Oh boy! Dogs! Park! Dog Park!”.

    Point #3: Unaware owners do suck. A really great time to bring your dog to the park IS when us dogwalkers are there. Granted- not all dogwalkers are created equal. I am a female dogwalker who thoroughly loves her job, and I love meeting the “regular” park attendees who bring their dogs. We all do know each other, and these dogs wouldn’t be coming in a pack if they weren’t socialized and friendly. It does take one person to come in to the park with an unsocialized or agressive dog to ruin the experience for everyone. However- the dogs dont listen to calling when someone is just standing by the gate, on the outside. It really gets them riled up even more.

    I hope none of this sounds derogatory or condescending, because I would truly like people to absorb this information and consider it next time they go to ANY dog park.

  13. dogsrlove says:

    OHHHHH and one more thing- Dogs that go on the weekend I have no comment on. The people and dogs that go in the evenings and on the weekends are usually NOT the same people who go during the week. I live on Phinney Ridge so I take my lab out for walks in the evening in summer and the people who go after work are usually not the most dog savvy crowd.

    So im sorry you had a negative experience!