Common Canines Allow Dogs to Roam Free in the Boston Common

By Beth Treffeisen

Boston recently ranked nearly last for being a pet-friendly city with some pet-owners saying that the city needs to do more to accommodate their furry friends and owners.

But in the Boston Common there is an oasis that allows dogs to run free in two designated zones.

Created in the Friends of the Public Garden sub-group Common Canine this plan provides meaningful recreation for dogs while protecting turf and plantings from overuse and minimizes interference with other user’s quiet enjoyment of the park.

It was approved by the Boston Parks Commission in 2013 and is the first approved off-leash area in a city park that does not fence off and designate a single-use restricted space in the historic open park of shared used.

“Dogs on leashes are allowed anywhere on the Common as long as their owners ‘pick-up’ after them, same as anywhere in the city,” wrote Liz Vizza the executive director of the Friends of the Public Garden in an e-mail.

There are two grass panels that are available at any one time, marked by signs for dogs to run off leash. These are rotated to allow the grass to recover and to accommodate other uses of the park.

Friends of the Public Garden asks that users follow the rules and refer to posted signage on the Boston Common for locations of approved areas. The hours of operation are from 6:00am to 11pm except during special events.

“The dogs have fun but the grass takes a beating, and allowing grass areas to be fenced long enough to recover has been very challenging in this heavily used park,” wrote Vizza.

She continued, “The neighborhood is also growing exponentially, and with that increasing numbers of dogs are coming to use the park every year.”

Vizza hopes to continue to work to make sure that there is a sustainable plan for dogs on the Common, while also advocating for developers of nearby residential property to do their part to provide outdoor space for the dogs and dog lovers that move into their buildings.

Although Boston ranked 98th out of the top 100 cities in America dogs owners can know they can let their canines run free in the hub of downtown Boston!

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