The Seattle dog scene has a new trend: indoor off-leash dog parks. You read that right. Indoor (dry!) + off-leash (freedom!). Indoor dog parks offer local dogs and their owners a dry place to enjoy off-leash play when Seattle’s liquid sunshine keeps raining down. Brilliant, right?
To be clear, this is not doggy daycare. Unlike daycare, indoor dog parks require you to stay on the premises and be attentive to your dog, including cleaning up messes.
Park staff is on hand, but their role is crowd control, not dog sitting. This is an important distinction. Many dog-oriented businesses offer indoor play, but it’s usually in conjunction with a daycare or boarding contract. These indoor dog parks may offer other services, but they specialize in this dog park format.
Are you ready to go? Reveling at the thought of tired-but-dry dog?
Before you pack up your pooch and head to one of these rain-free oases of canine fun, be sure you’re both prepared. Here are six things to know before you go.
1. Proof of up-to-date vaccination and flea prevention.
This is a legal requirement. You can’t get past the sign-in desk without it. Each park accepts paper copies of your dog’s vaccination records or a letter from your vet verifying such. Present either when you sign in and you’re good to go. Dogwood Play Park also accepts emailed copies. Send it to them before you arrive and your sign in process is that much faster.
2. Dog vetting: yes or no
Allowing dogs to run free in an enclosed space is a gamble.
Each park has its own method for safeguarding against potential mishaps. House of Ruff has a vetting process for potential canine visitors, which involves a meet-and-greet visit before you use the park. Consult their website for specifics. Dogwood Play Park does not vet their guests, but staff monitors the play areas closely.
If you’re not sure about how your dog will do in this environment, check out these essential dog park tips.
These parks aren’t run by the city’s park service. Fees are involved. Both have reasonable day use fees ($10-$15) as well as memberships that make visiting regularly affordable.
Pro tip: they also have happy hours with reduced entrance fees. Calling or consulting their websites will give you specifics.
4. Family-friendly or adult only
Kids and dogs, although equally cute, don’t always mix well. Don’t assume children are welcome at these indoor dog parks simply because they’re dog parks. Check first!
5. Toys and treats
Believe it or not, bringing dog toys and treats is discouraged at these indoor dog parks.
Why? Because the dogs are in enclosed areas, which heightens their pack behavior. All it takes is one dog being possessive over a toy for there to be a problem. Having a pocketful of treats can induce similar behavior. Leave the goodies at home. The parks have toys available. Treats can wait until you get home or are on the way home.
6. And what about the humans?
An indoor dog park bonus is the humans’ ability to imbibe in refreshing beverages while the dogs play. Microbrews, ciders, and non-alcoholic drinks are available at both parks. Food, on the other hand… not so much. And is it any wonder? Who wants food prepared around so many animals anyway? Both establishments recognize this and permit owners to bring food or have it delivered.
Aside from providing a dry place to go on rainy days, these parks also have space where you and your dog can enjoy the Pacific Northwest sunshine. When the sun comes out, they roll up their garage doors expanding the play area and revealing fenced patios with deck chairs, umbrella-ed tables, and picnic benches. Other amenities include board games (for the humans), kiddie pools (for the dogs), wifi, and music.
According to the weatherman, we’ve got another month or two of rain yet to go. If you need a break from rain boots, mud puddles, and the odiferous smell of wet dog, give one of these indoor dog parks a try. And keep an eye out. Chances are one will be springing up in your neighborhood soon.
Do you need a break from walking your pooch in the rain? Going on vacation to some warm, sunny locale and can’t take your dog? Maybe you want someone to look in on your pets while you’re at work? Rover has you covered for dog walkers, house sitters, and dog checker-uppers. For a day, a week, or on a regular schedule, we’ve got a sitter who can meet your needs.
Featured image: Dogwood Playpark