Dogs In Parks

Currently, dogs are allowed on-leash and on path in 26 Madison Parks (City of Madison Ordinance 8.19) and off-leash in 8 dog exercise areas (City of Madison Ordinance 23.32) with a license and dog park permit.

Madison residents with a dog aged 5 months or older are required to have a dog license, prior to purchasing a dog park permit. A license is available for purchase online and through the City Treasurer's Office. Dogs visiting from other areas are always welcome with proper license and/or vaccinations from your town/municipality. Be prepared to show proof if asked by a Park Ranger.

The permit is valid for City of Madison on-leash dog parks, off-leash dog parks, Dane County Parks (posted areas only), the City of Middleton and the City of Sun Prairie pet exercise areas. See Dog in Parks brochure for details. Fees collected by each agency are used to support their own dog exercise areas. Annual permits for the following year are available for purchase beginning November 15 and valid immediately.

A daily or annual Dog Park Permit may be purchased ONLINE or at the off-leash dog park kiosk.

2020 Fees

  • Annual Permit Tag: $35
  • Senior or Disabled Permit Tag: $17
  • Additional or Replacement Permit Tag: $17
  • Daily Fee: $5

Annual permits are available for purchase beginning November 15:

Purchase Permit

Receipt is emailed and proof of purchase. Annual permit is mailed within 10 business days.

  • At the kiosk: daily or annual permits at the off-leash dog park kiosk.
  • Madison Parks downtown office or by phone: annual permits only.

  • Dog Park Cleanup Day

    Join other dog-lovers and friends at Dog Park Cleanup Day typically held on the first Saturday in April each year.


    In parks allowing dogs, all dogs must be restrained on a maximum 6' leash at all times except in the designated off-leash exercise areas. City of Madison Ordinance 8.19.


    Dogs must always be under the control of the owner. Do not allow your dog to disturb wildlife or interfere with other park users. Leaving your dog unattended can be dangerous to your dog and other park users. If you cannot control your dog off-leash, keep your dog leashed at all times.

    Be aware that allowing your dog off-leash poses several hazards to your dog:

    • Many of the plants, fungi, and water sources in the parks may be poisonous to your dog.
    • Vegetation may have burrs or seeds that could get tangled in your dog's coat or lodged in your dog's feet, ears, or eyes.
    • Wildlife is common in the parks, and your dog does risk encountering a wild animal. Wild animals, particularly skunks, raccoons and badgers, could injure your dog. Rabies infection is also a risk when dogs encounter these animals.
    • Dogs can easily become lost in the parks, especially in winter when their sense of smell is less keen because of the cold and show.

    For these reasons it is essential to always keep your dog under supervision and voice control.

    Prohibited Areas

    Dogs are not allowed in any non-designated park, children's play areas, beaches, athletic fields, conservation parks, Forest Hill Cemetery or in any park building. During the winter dogs are not permitted on groomed cross-country ski trails.

    Cleaning up after your dog

    The following Madison General Ordinances pertain to your responsibilities for cleaning up after your dog. Dog feces can pose health risks to people and pets.

    • Always carry equipment sufficient to clean up your dog's feces whenever you and your dog are off your property, Ordinance 7.322(2).
    • Do not allow your dog to defecate on any property, public or private (except your own property), unless you immediately remove and properly dispose of the waste, Ordinance 7.322(1).

    General Rules

    • You must keep your dog's rabies vaccination and dog license current.
    • Dogs must wear current rabies, license, park permit and owner ID tags.
    • Keep your dog leashed when off your property unless you are within the off-leash exercise areas in parks where dogs are allowed.
    • Never allow your dog to bark at, intimidate, attack, or threaten another pet or any person.
    • Prevent your dog from injuring any person, property or other animal.
    • Report to Public Health, Animal Services at (608) 267-1989, any bite incident in which your dog is involved, whether your dog bites a person, is bitten by, or fights with a wild animal or stray pet.
    • Learn where your dog is allowed and not allowed. Do not bring your dog in any park or public place where dogs are prohibited.
    • Do not allow dogs on school grounds, beaches, cemeteries or parks where dogs are prohibited.
    • Do not allow your dog to trespass on public or private property or run at large, unleashed, or unattended.
    • Female dogs in season (heat) are not allowed in any dog park.
    • Dog Owner Responsibilities, Public Health Madison & Dane County