The Windy City is a great place for pet owners, and there are plenty of places to take your dog swimming near Chicago since it sits right on the shores of Lake Michigan. Head to a beach or pool on a sunny weekend and you’re bound to see a dozen pups in full-on aqua-inspired bliss.
Why take your dog swimming? Simply put, it gives your pet the same benefits it gives you. Swimming is a low-impact exercise that’s gentle on the joints but still works the muscles and heart, giving your dog a great workout. If your pet is older or has arthritis, swimming can help keep him or her healthy and active without a major threat of injury. It’s also a great way to burn through lots of energy, so hyperactive puppies and older dogs will love it.
Want your dog to be a part of the fun? Here are five dog-friendly places in the Chicago area to experience the surf and sun.
601 W Montrose Avenue, Chicago, IL
Open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Ask any local where the best dog swimming near Chicago is and they’ll point you here. Located at the northwestern corner of Montrose Beach (4400 N. Lake Shore Drive), this 3.8-acre park is the city’s first dog-friendly attraction of its kind. If your pet loves swimming, sand, and other dogs, they’ll probably have the time of their life here. You’ll have a good time, too—the area is incredibly popular, so you’ll have no problem meeting other dog fans to hang out with.
Montrose Dog Beach is partially fenced and contains a wash station, so you won’t be forced to track a sandy mess home. You can also find doggy treats for sale as well as free poop bags. All you’ll need to bring are your dog’s favorite water-ready toys.
Lake Shore Drive and W. Belmont Avenue, Chicago, IL
Open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
If Montrose’s partial fence makes you nervous, the dog beach at Belmont Harbor is just a two-mile journey south. This area is smaller but fully fenced, giving you peace of mind while you’re near the busy Lake Shore Drive. The water here is also shallow, so it’s great for puppies, small dogs, and new swimmers.
Word is that Belmont Harbor is much less crowded than Montrose, so this is a good place for dogs and owners who aren’t too fond of crowds. You’ll also get a great view of the boats on Lake Michigan, which is a nice way to spend a sunny afternoon.
Wilmette, IL, 60091
Hours vary, but generally open daily from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Live outside the city? Don’t worry, there are still plenty of places to take your dog swimming near Chicago. Gillson Dog Beach, located at Gillson Park’s southern end, is conveniently located for owners living in Wilmette. Hours vary depending on the season (the beach is closed during lunchtime on summer weekdays), but your dog can get a good splash session in the mornings and evenings. Both Wilmette residents and non-residents will need a permit for their dog, which they can purchase at the Park District Administrative Office (1200 Wilmette Ave).
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1430 W. Willow Street, Chicago, IL
Hours vary, but generally open daily at 7 a.m. Indoor park closed weekdays from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for Splash N’ Play.
Want a little more structure to your pet’s aquatic activities? Try Doggy Paddle, located on Chicago’s north side in the Bucktown neighborhood. Doggy Paddle offers heated indoor pools and qualified instructors to make sure your dog has a good, safe time swimming. They offer three programs:
- Learn to Swim works with dogs and puppies to help them build the skills and confidence needed to have a safe, fun time in the water.
- The Calm Dogs Pool is great for older or relaxed dogs who like to splash around and explore.
- The Active Dogs Pool is for high-energy pets who love to show off. Splashing, jumping, and toy fetching are all allowed and encouraged here.
You can also reserve a private swim session, which is great if your dog gets too excited around others.
Finally, if you’re a busy dog owner and your companion is exceptionally fond of swimming, check out Doggy Paddle’s Splash N’ Play club. This daycare-style service is a good choice for high-energy pets who like to play until they drop. Dogs start with a one-hour swim, then two hours of activity and socialization. Splash N’ Play club members can also enjoy ride service to and from the facility, so you don’t have to make an extra car trip before or after work.
42 N. Broadway, Des Plaines, IL
Open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Here’s another option for Chicagolanders who live outside of the city. Splash Dog provides a 23-by-13 foot heated pool for half-hour swim sessions to promote fun and fitness. They also offer 15-minute underwater treadmill sessions for dogs who need aquatic therapy.
What to know about dog swimming in Chicago
Before you take your dog to the water, make sure you’re following the rules and regulations of whichever location you’re attending. The Chicago Park District requires all dogs to be up-to-date on their vaccinations and dewormed. You’ll also need to get a dog-friendly area permit and tag from a participating veterinarian.
Private businesses like Doggy Paddle and Splash Dog have their own rules, although they will also want your dog to be vaccinated and free of worms or parasites.
If you’re ever unsure of what the requirements for admittance are or what you’ll need to bring (water bowls or toys, for example), simply contact your local parks department or call the business directly.
Finally, take note of steps to keep your dog safe in the heat, and be sure to keep an eye out for signs of heatstroke in dogs.
Love the idea of taking your dog swimming but just don’t have the time? Check out Rover for qualified dog walkers in the Chicago area who are down for a trip to the beach and back.