California is right next to Arizona and is known as the Golden State. There is so much to do here; you’ll need to come for a few weeks at least to even start enjoying what this beautiful location has to offer. With mountains, lakes, a desert, a stunning Pacific coastline, and a near perfect climate, if you love the Great Outdoors, you’ll feel right at home here, even when you’re on vacation!
Many visitors to California like to bring their dogs along, and Californian dog-lovers welcome visiting canines from all over the country. Even big cities such as Los Angeles, Malibu, San Diego, and San Francisco have plenty of dog parks where your pet can stretch his legs with the locals and enjoy the warm sunshine on his back.
California recently named the “shelter dog” as its official state animal in the hope that raising awareness in this way will encourage more people to adopt unwanted dogs from shelters each year. By adopting a shelter dog, you are very likely to get a wonderful mixed breed pup, or you may luck out and get a purebred pup as well!
In this article, we tell you all you need to know about bringing your dog with you to California. And we’ve compiled a list of ten of the most popular dog parks in the state too!
- 1 Licenses
- 2 California Leash Laws
- 3 General Dog Park Rules
- 4 Our Favorite California Dog Parks
- 4.1 Huntington Dog Beach
- 4.2 Alga Norte Dog Park, Carlsbad
- 4.3 Laurel Canyon Dog Park, Los Angeles
- 4.4 Rosie’s Dog Beach, Long Beach
- 4.5 Fiesta Island Dog Park, San Diego
- 4.6 Country Kennels Dawg Water Park, Murrieta
- 4.7 Runyon Canyon Park, Hollywood
- 4.8 Sepulveda Basin Off-leash Dog Park, Encino
- 4.9 Barrington Dog Park, Brentwood
- 4.10 Silver Lake Dog Park, Silver Lake
- 5 Final Thoughts
Dog licensing laws vary across California by county, so you must check with a local vet in the area you’re planning to visit what’s required before you travel.
However, as a general rule of thumb, all dogs over four months of age must be vaccinated against rabies. Some counties, including Los Angeles, also insist that all dogs are spayed or neutered and have microchips.
All dogs in California must be licensed. You can obtain a license online or in person at any animal care facility in the area where you’re going to stay.
California Leash Laws
California does not have a statewide leash law, but local governments in its towns and cities pass their own leash ordinances. So, you’ll need to check local leash laws before you visit or relocate with your pet.
In general, your dog is not allowed to run “at large” outside of designated off-leash dog parks. While your dog is on a leash, he must be under your control. Failure to abide by this law could see you in hot water with local law enforcement.
Note also that your dog’s leash must be six feet or less in length or less if you want to walk him in leash-only areas.
General Dog Park Rules
For the safety of the public and their dogs, every dog park in California has its own set of rules. Dog park rules are displayed prominently outside the entrance gate to each park. Typically, dog park rules are as follows:
- You must remove your dog’s feces immediately.
- Dogs over four months of age must be fully vaccinated, licensed, and wearing a collar and ID tag.
- Female dogs in heat are not allowed in the dog parks.
- Aggressive dogs are not permitted in the park.
- All dogs must be neutered or spayed.
- Dogs must be supervised while off-leash in the park.
- No alcohol, food, or treats are permitted.
- In the event of a dog bite, owners must exchange current tag information and phone numbers.
- No more than three dogs per person are allowed in the park.
- Dogs with infectious diseases are not permitted in the park.
- No animals other than dogs are allowed in the park.
Also, note that you are not permitted to leave your pet unattended in your vehicle in the dog park parking lot.
Our Favorite California Dog Parks
So that you have some ideas of great locations where you can exercise your pet while you are visiting the Golden State, we’ve compiled this list of ten of the most popular dog parks in California.
Huntington Dog Beach
The dog beach is a popular dog destination where your pup can run loose on the beach and swim in the ocean. They even hold doggy surfing competitions here throughout the summer for doggy dudes who like the catch a wave or two!
The dog beach is free to use, although there is a small charge for parking. A dedicated team of volunteers runs the dog beach, and donations towards the upkeep of the facility are gratefully accepted.
The beach itself 1.5 miles long, and there are public restrooms and a picnic area provided for the comfort of visitors. Doggy waste bags are provided. However, you will need to bring fresh water for your dog, as playing in the sea can be thirsty work and there are no water fountains available here.
Alga Norte Dog Park, Carlsbad
The park is around 30,000 square feet in size and has separate areas for large and small dogs to play, socialize, and exercise. Here, you’ll find a modest range of dog agility equipment, a doggy drinking fountain, waste bags and bins, and some shaded picnic tables and benches.
Alga Norte Dog Park is open between 8 am and 10 pm daily and is an off-leash park.
Laurel Canyon Dog Park, Los Angeles
If you’re visiting the city of Los Angeles, you must drop into Laurel Canyon Dog Park (here).
The 3-acre park offers a play area for large and small pups and is located close to the canyon itself. Dogs can enjoy an off-leash romp after you’ve taken a walk through the canyon, and the secluded, off the beaten track location, assures you of plenty of open space for your dog to play in off-leash. The park’s proximity to Mulholland Drive marks this place as an excellent location for celebrity spotting too!
There are shady areas and benches provided here, but you’ll need to bring your own water for your dog, as well as poop bags.
The park opens at sunrise each day, closing at sunset. Note that on Fridays, the park closes from 6 am to 11 am for essential maintenance.
Rosie’s Dog Beach, Long Beach
You’ll find plenty of space for your vehicle in the parking lot at Granada Avenue or Bennet Avenue for the beachfront. You do have to pay for parking between 8 am and 6 pm. However, the dog beach is open from 6 am to 8 pm, so beachfront parking is free outside of these hours. There’s a doggy water fountain on the beach close to the parking lot at Argonne Avenue.
Note that you are only allowed to bring one dog per adult to the beach, and dogs must be under visual and voice control at all times. You must have a suitable waste container with you to remove your dog’s mess and be sure to dispose of it in the waste containers provided.
Fiesta Island Dog Park, San Diego
Fiesta Island Dog Park is an off-leash park (here) in San Diego that offers endless space for your dog to run and play on the sand, over dunes, through ponds, and even into the ocean.
The majority of this large, sandy island in Mission Bay is designated as an off-leash zone for dogs. There are plenty of sandy dunes for pups to play in, a 1.25-mile long loop to walk around, and calm bay waters for dogs to swim in. The park is approximately 100 acres in size, so there’s plenty of room for everyone. Check out a video of Fiesta Island Dog Park at this link.
The scenery here is beautiful, but there are no facilities, so you’ll need to bring water for your dog, poop bags, and a scoop.
Country Kennels Dawg Water Park, Murrieta
The water park forms part of a kennels complex that also offers grooming, boarding, and agility training. You have to pay for your pup to use the water park, but it is such great fun for your furry friend, that you won’t mind the small cost! Admission to the park for one dog costs $12, and if you have a second dog, it’s $6.
As well as the water park, there’s a play area and a relaxation zone for pups. The kennels’ staff supervises all dogs while they are using the facilities.
Note that, before your dog is allowed entry to the park, you must produce his vaccination certificate and he will be evaluated for suitability.
Runyon Canyon Park, Hollywood
Runyon Canyon Park (here) is an incredibly scenic dog park where pups can run off-leash over 90 acres of steep winding trails that have a beautiful, back-to-nature feel. There’s a loop to walk around that gives you some stunning, panoramic views of the city and takes about an hour to complete.
The park is open from sunrise to sunset every day. You’ll find park entrances at 2000 Fuller Avenue and 7300 Mulholland Drive.
As you’ll see from this video, the going can be quite strenuous for both you and your pet, so be sure that your pup is fit enough to keep up, especially during hot weather. You’ll need to bring water for your pet and poop bags. You must pick up dog mess and dispose of it in the receptacles provided.
Sepulveda Basin Off-leash Dog Park, Encino
Sepulveda is Los Angeles’ largest fenced dog park (here), offering over six acres of fenced space for your dog to run and play in. The park is open from sunrise to sunset Saturday through Thursday, and from 11 am to dusk on Fridays to allow for essential maintenance work to be carried out before the park opening.
The park has separate areas for small pups, timid dogs, and large dogs. There’s ample parking right beside the park. In the park, you’ll find agility courses for each area, a poop scoop program, and state-of-the-art doggie water fountains. Lots of beautiful trees have been planted in the park to provide shade for canines and their owners, and there are a few benches where you can sit and rest or pass the time of day with other dog owners.
Barrington Dog Park, Brentwood
Barrington Dog Park is situated (here) in Veterans Barrington Park, Brentwood.
The 1.5-acre park provides a small and peaceful oasis in the urban sprawl of Brentwood, Los Angeles. The off-leash park is beautifully maintained and has tall shade trees to protect dogs and their owners from the sun on hot days.
Here you’ll find two fenced areas, one for small or timid pups and the other for bigger, rowdier dogs. Most of the small park is open to the sun except for one corner where there are a shade tree and a bench.
There is a weight limit of 30 pounds imposed for dogs using the small dog run, and you’re not allowed to take more than three dogs per adult. The large dog area has plenty of trees for shade, and although it’s technically set aside for large canines, small pups are still welcome.
Drinking fountains are provided for the dogs. Also, dog waste stations are sited throughout the park. You can use poop bags if you want to, but all the stations have a rake and scooping pan for you to use if you prefer.
You can bring your pup to play here every day from sunrise to sunset, except on Tuesdays when the park closes from 6 am till 10 am for maintenance work to be carried out.
If you fancy exploring outside the dog park with your canine companion, you can take him for a leashed walk along the sidewalks that border the park to enjoy the delightful landscaping.
Silver Lake Dog Park, Silver Lake
Silver Lake Dog Park is located (here) in the suburb of Silver Lake on Los Angeles’ east side. The 1.25-acre park is open daily from 6:30 am till 10 pm, closed on Tuesday and Friday between 8:30 am, and 10 am for maintenance work.
The park is fenced-off into two separate areas for small and large dogs. Note that during peak morning and evening hours, you may find parking difficult as the park does get very busy. The off-leash areas are fenced and have double-gated entrances to ensure that dogs can’t escape when others are entering or leaving.
The park is pretty basic and has few amenities aside from a single doggy water fountain in each area. There are a few trees and grassy areas along the fence line, but the shade is scarce. That said, two small canopies have been provided in the large dog area, and there’s a covered picnic table in the small dog run.
If you enjoy a walk with your dog on his leash, check out the 2.2-mile circular walking and jogging path that runs around the Silver Lake Reservoir.
If you’re planning on visiting the Golden State of California with your dog, you can be sure to find plenty of scenic, safely-fenced dog parks where your pet can have fun off-leash.
California also boasts a few dog-friendly beaches that are the perfect retreat on hot days when your pup might fancy a refreshing, cooling dip in the ocean.Before you leave for California, make sure that your dog’s vaccinations are up-to-date and that he’s licensed.