Happy dogs at the dog parks in Sarasota County
Photo credit: Nicole Coudal
Happy dogs at the dog parks in Sarasota County
Photo credit: Nicole Coudal

Sarasota County's Dog-Friendly Parks

Sarasota County offers many natural resources for us and our 4-legged friends to enjoy!

Sarasota County is definitely dog-friendly. How do we know? Because the County has designated 69 parks as either ‘dog friendly’ or ‘Paw Parks,’ and that’s a lot of options when it comes to taking your furry pal out for some exercise!

The term ‘dog friendly’ simply means parks that are to be enjoyed by both humans and dogs. You simply must keep your dog on a hand-held leash (no more than 6’) and, like all good citizens, you must pick up after your dog and dispose of it properly, so everyone can enjoy the park, without any surprises.

If you’d like to take your dog to a park designed just for dogs, check out one of the County’s five Paw Parks:

They were built specifically to accommodate the needs of dogs and their owners, where 4-legged friends can run and play off-leash in a controlled environment, under your supervision. Each has amenities like fenced in areas for large or small dogs, water fountains, waste disposal bags, trash cans, and seating. Brohard Paw Park even offers a boardwalk that connects to an off-leash section of Venice Public Beach, where dogs can freely run in the surf and sand, so be sure to visit the beach when you go (and be prepared for lots of sand in your car!). Paw Parks do have a few more rules than dog-friendly parks, so be sure to check the posted rules when you arrive, but the most prevalent include:

  • Dogs must be licensed, with current vaccinations.
  • Dogs must be leashed when entering and exiting the park.
  • Dogs must be under the owner’s voice command at all times.
  • Owners must be in the park, within view of their dog at all times.
  • Aggressive dogs are prohibited.
  • Owners must clean up after their dogs.

These parks are a great way to socialize dogs, where they have opportunity to run and play, meet other dogs, be around people, and let loose. Come to think of it, dog parks are good for people, too!

Planners at the County are in-tune with the needs of community members, including dog owners, because that feedback is an important part of their Master Plan process. Wyatt Richardson, Parks Recreation and Natural Resources Supervisor at Sarasota County Government (and a dog owner himself), says “Dogs are members of our families, even viewed as our children. We want our

residents to enjoy time with their dogs, get outside, and have fun. It’s all part of building a community.” 

After hearing feedback from the community-at-large about the need for more dog-friendly places, Sarasota County expanded its list of dog-friendly parks in late 2016, adding more than 50 and bringing the total to 69. The County also regularly evaluates feasibility of offerings to meet needs within other areas based on information from their Master Plan process. To that end, it’s hosting a workshop on November 16 at Historic Spanish Point to discuss feasibility of incorporating a Paw Park at Bay Street Park in Osprey. If you’d like to participate in that community meeting, click here for details.

Check out this complete list of dog-friendly parks throughout Sarasota County. And, if you live in North Port be sure to check out The Canine Club. It’s not part of the Sarasota County park system, but it’s a great Paw Park run by the City of North Port — another great resource in our community, including separate facilities for large and small dogs, perimeter fencing, shelter, seating areas, water fountains, waste bag stations, canine agility equipment and more.

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Nicole Coudal is a home chef and food writer based in southwest Florida, where she fishes and cooks using local ingredients. When not on the water, she visits farms, farmer’s markets, and other food-related venues to highlight what’s in-season and to create tasty recipes. Read more at www.MyDeliciousBlog.com.