Review: Sioux Falls, South Dakota’s Only Fenced-In, Off-Leash Dog Park

In Sioux Falls, there are not a lot of options when it comes to dog parks. Sure, there are “dog-friendly” parks; that is, they allow dogs on leashes, but, for some dog owners, it is easier and more fun to let their four-legged friends run a bit. For that, there are only two parks in town. Both are located on Cliff Avenue. Unfortunately, only one of these parks offers the security of a fence-in area for the dogs to run.

Spencer Park is located at 3501 South Cliff Avenue. Since this park is a one-of-a-kind luxury in this city, the location is about as good as it gets. It is relatively near the center of Sioux Falls but is far enough away from busy downtown to avoid the hassle of its traffic. That is not to say that there is no traffic; leaving the park can still be inconvenient when turning on to busy Cliff. The park is also conveniently located just off of Interstate 229.

This park seems to have everything a dog owner could really need. There is a large parking lot to accommodate the dog park, playground equipment, and soccer fields, and the bike trail is nearby. Aptly, there are also regularly-spaced bag dispensers in case an owner forgets or runs out of bags for cleaning up after his or her dog.

The play area allows children to burn off some energy along with the dogs. Unfortunately, the only slide in the play area is one that younger kids cannot possibly use without actually being held on it by an adult. It is a very thin slide with no safety sides; in fact, it is designed so that a child’s legs must hang over the sides. Though it always tempts my children, they always discover (or rediscover) that they are terrified of sliding down it, even with an adult holding them on it. Despite this shortcoming, the play area is designed to avoid injuries. The surface below the park equipment is padded foam. Even if a child were to fall from the highest point, he or she would not be likely to be injured. In addition, benches and picnic tables are placed near the play area, so parents can easily keep an eye on their children.

The best accommodation is that Spencer Park actually has two fenced-in areas for the dogs. This allows smaller dogs to be separated from larger dogs, appeasing the owners who are concerned about safety. The area which allows all sizes of dogs is quite large, and there is more than enough room for larger dogs to run and play. There are picnic tables and somewhat-sheltered benches in the dog areas, so owners can sit while their dogs play with the others.

I like this park a lot. It is convenient that the kids can play as well as the dogs. The fenced-in dog runs allow me to feel more comfortable letting my dog off her leash. It is great to have a place to let her off of it too. Leashed dog-friendly parks are great, but they do not compare to off-leash parks.

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