Dog Parks: Explore the outdoors with Man’s Best Friend


Spring and summer weather bring with it the urge to get outside and we humans are not alone. Our furry friends are no doubt eager to feel the sun on their backs and explore the great outdoors. Between dog parks and people parks that allow dogs, there are plenty of ways to do just that in Genesee County. Here is a list of locations and tips to keep you and your canine playing by the rules.

Walking in regular (people) parks

Genesee County Parks Director Amy McMillan reminds readers that dogs are not permitted on beaches or in designated swimming areas such as Clover, Buttercup and Bluebell parks. For-Mar Nature Preserve and Arboretum are also no-dog areas.

In all other parks, canine pets are welcome. There are just two restrictions:

  1. Dogs must be on a lead no longer than six feet.
  2. Owners should come prepared to clean up after dogs and dispose of their pet’s waste properly.

New! Atlas County Park

Parks Director McMillan, who has dogs, cats and horses herself, is excited about the latest addition to the parks network, “we highly value having this park — it is incredibly beautiful. Every time I visit, I envision walking my dog there.”

Kearsley Creek runs through the property, it has varied terrain, ponds, fishing and phenomenal birding. “I can also imagine putting my kayak in the creek,” added McMillian.

Genesee County Parks and Recreation Commission bought the land for $700,000 using a grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “We waited a year for the grant funding,” said McMillian. The park opened on Sunday, April 29.

Running and playing in spaces reserved for dogs

Off-leash park within a park

Within Flushing County Park, a popular place for walking dogs, pet owners can also enjoy a free off-leash dog area that opened in summer of 2017. Located at North McKinley and Carpenter Roads, Genesee County Parks Director Amy McMillan describes the area as, “Extraordinary! It’s several acres, with lots of trees so it feels like you’re walking through the woods, not just an open field.” 

There is a small-dog area and an all-dog area in this park within a park. Other amenities include running water, a designated pavilion and parking area. It is not near a playground or other likely distractions and is completely fenced to high standards, for example, there are no corners where a dog could get stuck.

Dog parks owned and managed by municipalities

  • Thompson Road Regional Dog Park: 1343 W. Thompson Rd., Fenton, MI, 48430
  • Davison Area Dog Park: 1285 N. Gale Rd., Davison, MI, 48423
  • Grand Blanc Dog Park: 360 E. Grand Blanc Rd., Creasey Bicentennial Park, Grand Blanc, MI, 48439

Running and training dogs off-leash in the park

Visit the eastern section of the Hogbacks area near Stanley Road to train your dog off leash for hunting and other activities. Training is permitted between July 15 and April 15, 8 a.m. – sunset, and follows the State of Michigan’s hunting and trapping guide regulations. Spring and early summer are considered the “quiet season” when wild species of all kinds are hatching and birthing their young; dogs could disrupt the natural cycle during this critical period.

Director McMillan emphasizes the importance of dogs being obedient if let off the leash in Hogbacks. It is imperative a dog comes when called, “because there are thousands of acres and lots of things for dogs to smell,” she warns.

Pet owners should follow the rules posted on park signs and published on the Genesee County Parks website

Lapeer Dog Park — now in fundraising stage

The Lapeer Dog Park is gaining momentum! An exciting community enterprise, the city’s first dog park is well beyond the planning and design stages and is now raising funds to build.

A committee of 12-15 people meets regularly to plan events which generate revenue, with 100 percent of the funds going toward the park’s completion. The dog park committee held its first event last September and raised about $1,900.

However, the goal is lofty: $200-$250,000. “It will be a very nice park,” says Rodney Church, Director of Parks, Recreation & Cemetery for the City of Lapeer, “and as far as we know our park would be the first and only dog park in Lapeer County.”

While the park will not be constructed with city money, Lapeer has been very supportive. Two staff members are involved in the committee (the finance director as well as Director Church) and the city will continue to provide in-kind services, such as ongoing maintenance of the park.

Biggest Expenses

“We are in the process of becoming a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) public charity — Friends of Lapeer Dog Park,” says Church, who has served as director for nearly two years, “and are exploring numerous creative ideas such as matching grant opportunities, a crowdfunding campaign and partnerships with service organizations and businesses. The biggest expenses are fencing, shade enclosure, concrete path, fine aggregate surface and water access,” he explains.

The dog park will be a 2.5-acre area within the existing Rotary Park located in downtown Lapeer. It sits on the north side of East Nepessing Street, just east of North Saginaw Street at 101 East Nepessing St. Features will include: double gated entries, an all-dog area and small dog area, restrooms, benches and parking on the edge of Farmers Creek.

How can you help?

  1. Donate money
  2. Volunteer in fundraising efforts
  3. Participate in Help Let the Dogs Out dog walk 10 a.m. June 23. The two-mile walk will start and end at CrossFit Lapeer, 865 Whitney Dr., Lapeer. Register online prior to the walk and receive a shirt. All proceeds from the dog walk will go directly toward the Lapeer Dog Park.  — Jenna Lane

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