A rundown on the area's 14 dog parks, including the eight that appeared in our July issue.

Central Ohio is home to 14 outdoor dog parks ranging from 13,000 square feet to 5.5 acres and offering a variety of activities. Below are a few favorites chosen by Columbus Monthly’s Emma Frankart Henterly and her pooch Cam, a 2-year-old pit bull/German shepherd mix. Parks listed all provide pick-up baggies and separate areas for small and large dogs, unless otherwise noted; human and dog ratings are both out of five.

Bark Park at Brooksedge Park
708 Park Meadow Rd., Westerville
Maintained by: Westerville Parks and Recreation
Area: 1 acre and 0.75 acres (large dog enclosures); 0.25 acre (small dog enclosure)
Fencing: White horse fencing with wire reinforcement
Water: Drinking fountain for humans with a dog bowl attachment at the base
Shade: Mature trees provide some shade, but not near seating areas.
Seating: Benches and picnic tables
Restrooms: Port-a-potty
Other amenities: A tunnel to run through and platforms to jump on; blue emergency call button
Rating: 4 stars / 3 paws
Notes: Two large dog areas are rotated to keep grass healthy, which prevents muddy spots.

Big Walnut Dog Park
5000 E. Livingston Ave., East Side
Maintained by: Columbus Department of Recreation and Parks
Area: 2.1 acres (large dog enclosure); 0.7 acre (small dog enclosure)
Fencing: Chain link
Water: None provided
Shade: Mature trees provide some shade, but not much near seating areas
Seating: Picnic tables
Restrooms: Port-a-potty
Other amenities: A nearby off-leash-approved area includes a pond to swim in, though it’s also used as a fishing area
Rating: Three stars / three paws
Notes: The ground was a bit muddy in areas when we went, even though it had been a few days since a hard rain. Instead of providing baggies, the park has stations where guests are encouraged to leave their plastic grocery bags. It’s too expensive for the city to run a water line to the park, so plan to bring a jug of your own water.

Buckeye Area Dog Park at Walnut Woods Metro Park
6716 Lithopolis Rd., Groveport
Maintained by: Metro Parks
Area: 3 acres (large dog enclosure); 1 acre (small dog enclosure)
Fencing: Wire fencing with wooden posts
Water: Water fountain for dogs only, plus a hose-off station
Shade: A covered shelter and lots of young trees provide plenty of shade.
Seating: Benches and picnic tables
Restrooms: Yes
Other amenities: Mulched agility courses in both enclosures have an adjustable-height jumping pole, weave poles, a tunnel, hoops and flat boulders to jump on.
Rating: 4 stars / 4 paws
Notes: A separate swimming pond is in its own fenced-off area accessible via the large dog side. It’s only two or three feet deep, but dogs don’t seem to mind.

Friends of Alum Creek Dog Park
3993 Hollenback Rd., Lewis Center
Maintained by: Friends of Alum Creek Dog Park/Alum Creek State Park
Area: 1.2 acres (large dog enclosure); 0.7 acre (small dog enclosure); 1 acre (doggie beach enclosure)
Fencing: Chain link; wooden horse fencing with wire reinforcement around doggie beach area
Water: Drinking fountain with a dog bowl attachment at the base, plus a hose-off station
Shade: Plenty
Seating: Benches
Restrooms: Yes
Other amenities: Three separated doggie beaches and swim areas
Rating: 4 stars / 5 paws
Notes: A basic first-aid kit in the swim area is much appreciated, and the non-swim areas of the park feature brand-new fencing, installed this summer. Most maintenance is provided by volunteers with the nonprofit Friends of Alum Creek Dog Park association.

Godown Dog Park
6099 Godown Rd., Northwest Columbus
Maintained by: Worthington Parks and Recreation/Worthington Organized Off-leash Friends (WOOF)
Area: 3.7 acres (large dog enclosure); 0.8 acre (small dog enclosure)
Fencing: Chain link
Water: Drinking fountain with a dog bowl attachment at the base, plus a hose-off station
Shade: Plenty
Seating: Benches and fallen logs
Restrooms: Port-a-potty
Other amenities: Boulders and fallen logs to climb on and under; paved walking path provides some accessibility
Rating: Three stars / Five paws
Notes: Sporadic maintenance means trash cans often are overflowing at peak times and muddy pools are often present, but these cons are offset by the park’s large size and abundance of available tennis balls.

Heritage Trail Dog Park
7262 Hayden Run Rd., Hilliard
Maintained by: Metro Parks
Area: 4 acres total
Fencing: Chain link and wire
Water: Water fountain for dogs only, plus a splash pad with multiple jets
Shade: A covered shelter provides some shade; trees are young and don’t offer much.
Seating: Benches and picnic tables
Restrooms: Port-a-potty
Other amenities: Hills with tunnels built into them, plus weave poles
Rating: Four stars / five paws
Notes: Sides are divided by a dog’s activity level, not size, which is unique in Central Ohio. Some of the muddy spots are roped off to keep dogs out, but not all of them. One patron warned us of ticks, but we didn’t find any.

Nando’s Dog Park in Darree Fields Park
6285 Cosgray Rd., Dublin
Maintained by: Dublin Recreation Services
Area: 2 acres total
Fencing: Chain link and picket fencing
Water: Drinking fountain with dog bowl attachment at the base
Shade: Some available near the fence line, but seating areas are exposed
Seating: Picnic tables
Restrooms: Port-a-potty
Other amenities: Boulders to jump on, a tunnel, seesaw and jump hoop in the large dog area
Rating: Two stars / Three paws
Notes: The small dog enclosure is tiny, with only a oval blacktop track (think: a much smaller version of track-and-field tracks at high schools) and a patch of grass in its center.

Pizzuro Park Dog Park
940 S. Hamilton Rd., Gahanna
Maintained by: Gahanna Department of Parks and Recreation
Area: 4 acres total
Fencing: Chain link
Water: Raised water bowls available in enclosures, drinking fountain with a dog bowl attachment at the base, plus a hose-off station
Shade: Good shade along the fence line in the large dog area and throughout the small dog area; umbrellas are set over tables in the large dog area
Seating: Benches and picnic tables
Restrooms: Port-a-potty
Other amenities: Obstacle course in a separate fenced-off area with weave poles, a jump pole, ramps and a tunnel; more ramps in large dog area; fire hydrants for potty time; “time out” enclosure in the large dog area; paved walking path through the large dog enclosure provides some accessibility; hand sanitizer stations throughout
Rating: Five stars / Five paws
Notes: An adjacent kids’ playground is hugely convenient for parents. The large dog enclosure is divided into two sections, which can be closed independently to allow grass recovery. Even after hard rains, the park had very few muddy spots; the worst of them were covered with mulch to avoid messes.

Rocky Fork Metro Park Dog Park
7180 E. Walnut St., Westerville
Maintained by: Metro Parks
Area: 1.8 acres total
Fencing: Wooden horse fencing; a chain link fence separates large and small dog enclosures
Water: Drinking fountain with a dog bowl attachment at the base, plus splash pad with multiple jets
Shade: A few young trees provide no shade, but a pergola was under construction at press time.
Seating: Benches
Restrooms: Yes
Other amenities: Splash pad; Clorox wipes available near baggie stations
Rating: Four stars / four paws
Notes: The splash pad is activated by (human) touch, which is great for water conservation. This park is newly opened in 2016 and enjoys frequent visits from park rangers, who help maintain order and cleanliness.

Scioto Audubon Metro Park Dog Park
347 Maier Pl., Downtown
Maintained by: Metro Parks
Area: 2.5 acres total
Fencing: Chain link
Water: Drinking fountain with a dog bowl attachment at the base
Shade: None in the dog enclosures, but a central, fenced-in area between the large and small dog areas has a covered shelter with picnic tables
Seating: Benches and picnic tables
Restrooms: Available at the nearby Audubon Center
Other amenities: A seesaw, ramp, tunnel and jump stations in both enclosures
Rating: Three stars / four paws
Notes: The area is very exposed on windy and sunny days, and the two enclosures are of similar dimensions, meaning small dogs have lots of room to run, but large dogs have less space relative to their size.

Spindler Road Dog Park
2121 Spindler Rd., Hilliard
Maintained by: Columbus Department of Recreation and Parks
Area: 3 acres (large dog enclosure); 0.8 acre (small dog enclosure)
Fencing: Chain link
Water: Drinking fountain with dog bowl attachment at the base
Shade: None
Seating: Benches
Restrooms: Port-a-potty
Other amenities: A paved walking path around the large dog area provides good accessibility.
Rating: Three stars / three paws
Notes: A large, rolling hill gives dogs a great lookout spot.

Spring and Fourth Dog Park
Corner of Spring and Fourth streets, Downtown
Maintained by: Columbus Downtown Dog Park Association
Area: 0.3 acre
Fencing: Iron bars
Water: A barrel with a spigot is filled regularly by staff
Shade: None
Seating: Benches
Restrooms: None
Other amenities: None
Rating: Two stars / one paw
Notes: This pocket park is all gravel for better drainage and easy clean-up. It’s great for Downtown dwellers who need a place for potty breaks and a bit of exercise, but it’s small area makes it better suited for small dogs than larger ones.

Three Creeks Dog Park at Sycamore Fields
2748 Spangler Rd., Southeast Side
Maintained by: Columbus Department of Recreation and Parks
Area: 5 acres total
Fencing: Chain link
Water: Spigot for filling dog bowls, which are not provided
Shade: Minimal shade provided by young trees in the park; none in the seating areas
Seating: Picnic tables
Restrooms: None
Other amenities: None
Rating: Three stars / three paws
Notes: While this park doesn’t offer much in the way of activities, it does provide a wonderfully open, unobstructed are that’s perfect for fetch.

Wheeler Dog Park
725 Thurber Dr. W, Grandview
Maintained by: Columbus Department of Recreation and Parks
Area: 1 acre and 1.5 acres (not size-specific)
Fencing: Iron bars that seem a bit shorter than average
Water: Spigot for filling dog bowls, which are not provided
Shade: A mix of young and mature trees provide some shade throughout
Seating: Picnic tables and benches
Restrooms: None
Other amenities: A few rolling hills provide lookout points
Rating: Three stars / three paws
Notes: There’s no parking here; visitors walk or park on the street. Large and small dogs play together in one enclosure; the two sides are rotated monthly to allow for grass recovery.