Catering to Man's Best Friend Dog Runs Are a Hot Amenity

It’s no secret that Chicagoans love their dogs. In 2011, DogFriendly.com ranked Chicago the second most dog-friendly city in the United States (Portland, Oregon, ranked number 1). The criteria was based on the number of lodgings, attractions, outdoor restaurants, stores and beaches that welcome dogs. According to city statistics, it's estimated that Chicago residents own nearly three-quarters of a million dogs.

If you're the proud owner of a noble hound, you know what an important part our canine counterparts play in both day-to-day and larger life decisions we make. Where to live? Why to live there? And with more and more, What’s in it for Fido? The easier a co-op or condo building can make it on dog owners to care for their pooches given the hectic pace of most Chicagoans, the more attractive the community. So the 20 off-leash dog runs located throughout the city may play a large role in the demographic of the surrounding buildings.

If You Build It… They Will Come

Chicago has leash laws which require dogs to be leashed at all times with the exception of designated areas. These areas have taken the form of dog runs.

The first urban dog run appeared in Chicago in 1997 in Lincoln Park. Wiggly Field was founded by animal lovers Stacey Hawk, Diane Dorwart and Judy Tullman. Its purpose was to give city dog-owners a place to bring their pets for some hard-to-come-by exercise space. The popularity of Wiggly Field grew enormously over the years; it has been featured on Animal Planet’s show K-9 to 5 and was recently named one of the top ten U.S. dog parks by the readers of Dog Fancy magazine. The popularity of the dog run inspired others to open throughout the city.

Space and surface are two key elements for a successful, popular dog run, says Douglas Freeman, president of the South Loop Dog Park Action Cooperative in downtown Chicago.

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