Dogs in Portland's Parks FAQ

Are dogs allowed in Portland parks?

Yes, dogs are welcome visitors to most Portland parks, trails, and natural areas! When visiting parks with pets, remember:  

Whom do I call with questions, to identify a problem situation, or make a complaint about a dog, dog owner, or off-leash area?

What kind of damage can unleashed dogs do to wildlife and habitat?

Off-leash dogs seriously compromise the health of parks and natural areas. Portland Parks & Recreation's designated off-leash areas are thoughtfully sited to avoid environmental impacts. Allowing even a single dog off-leash can disturb wildlife, and impact the habitat Portland Parks & Recreation works so hard to protect. 

Can my dog be off-leash in sports fields?

No dogs (whether leashed or unleashed) are allowed on fields maintained for sports use. Sports fields are intended for use by sports teams, and dog use creates serious health and safety hazards, including: 

What is the penalty for violating the leash and scoop law?

Citations of up to $150 per incident may be issued for violation of leash/scoop laws.

What is the process for adding new off-leash areas?

New off-leash areas may be proposed through PP&R's Park Proposal Process.

Proposers should consider the off-leash area siting criteria, which were developed by Portland Parks & Recreation and a Citizen Task Force, as well as staff's key operational considerations. These criteria and considerations are used to help determine whether off-leash use is a good fit for a park, and to gauge the proposed area’s potential to be a healthy, safe site for dogs to play.

Siting Criteria

Off-Leash Areas should:

Operational Considerations

Why does my well-behaved dog need to be on a leash?

Portland’s parks, natural areas and trails are extensively used for all types of recreation, and off-leash dogs and dog waste have significant impacts on the health, safety, and enjoyability of park lands.

Obeying leash laws:

Who will enforce the leash and scoop laws?

Multnomah County Animal Control officers and PP&R Park Rangers.

What is being done to encourage compliance with leash/scoop laws?

Though many dog owners are respectful park visitors, disregard for leash/scoop laws is an ongoing concern in many parks and natural areas. To increase compliance with leash and scoop laws, Portland Parks & Recreation uses a variety of education and enforcement strategies, as well as providing off-leash areas for dog-owner recreation.

Efforts include:

How much does an off-leash area cost?

Design and construction costs vary depending on the location and size of the off-leash area, and whether the area is fenced or unfenced. Costs have typically ranged between $5,000 and $40,000. Maintenance and operation costs also vary depending on factors like turf repair, bark chip replacement, fencing repairs, environmental mitigation efforts, and volume of site use.

There's no one else in the park - why does it matter if my dog is off-leash?


Dog waste is messy, but is it really harmful?

Absolutely. Dog waste contains bacteria and organisms that can spread disease in people and other dogs. In humans, contact with dog waste can cause stomach illnesses and rashes. Dog waste also spreads disease among dogs, including serious illnesses like giardia and parvovirus.

Dog waste also has environmental impacts. Unlike human waste, which is directed into sewage pipes, dog waste left on the ground eventually pollutes our waterways. Left on the ground, dog waste also deposits excessive amounts of nitrogen fertilizer to the soil, increasing the spread of nitrogen-loving weeds at the expense of native plants.

What is an off-leash area?

An off-leash area is a designated area in a park where dogs can play and exercise off-leash. Off-leash areas may be fenced or unfenced; unfenced off-leash areas are identified by boundary markers. Off-leash Area Locations and Hours

Why isn't there an off-leash area in every Portland park?

Off-leash areas are just one of the many types of recreation amenities requested by park users. Other requested facilities and equipment include sports fields, playgrounds, swimming pools, gardens, and activities. It is not possible to provide every one of the 200+ parks in Portland with all of the facilities requested by individual interest groups.