If there is one thing Louisville loves, it’s dogs. Hell, everyone loves dogs! So much so I would venture to say dogs are the new children, and plants are the new dogs, and candles are the new plants, and so on and so forth. We love them so much, we have nine dog parks in Louisville. That’s right, nine!
My dog Dougie, my baby, is also my co-pilot, my friend, the purveyor of smiles, beggar of foods, snuggle extraordinaire, and wiper-away-er of tears (well, he licks them).
I have never experienced a more dog-friendly environment. Not only friendly but welcomed, cherished and celebrated. Like, please bring your dog we want to pet him kind of place. And Louisville is the first in Kentucky to have not one, but TWO dog park bars. Not to mention the nine dog parks in Louisville!
Check out a few of these other posts:
- The 16 Best Bars in Louisville, Kentucky
- The 25 Coolest Things To Do in Louisville in Summer
- 12 Lakes Near Louisville, Kentucky (for Swimming & Boating!)
- 14 Incredible Museums in Louisville, Kentucky
Membership Dog Parks in Louisville
All of the dog parks in Louisville are maintained, community-supported, and easily accessible. These parks do require a membership through The Louisville Dog Run Association (LDRA). Membership starts at $40 for the first dog, $30 for the second dog, and $20 for the third dog. The membership can be purchased at most Feeder Supply Stores, and last until the end of the calendar year.
For travelers and out-of-Towners, you are absolutely welcome and encouraged to visit all of the dog parks in Louisville while in town. Just email or call the LDRA in advance and they will grant you temporary access.
The annual fee goes towards maintenance and resources, as well as ensuring all dogs are up-to-date with vaccines. Rules are enforced and subsequently, owners are more likely to be responsible.
After driving around Louisville with my trusty co-pilot, I am astonished by the cleanliness, resources and security provided at the dog parks in Louisville.
Sawyer Dog Park
Sawyer Dog Park was the first official off-leash dog park in Louisville, opened in 2004. It is a designated 6-acre area within the lush 554 acres of the E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park. Fun Fact, E.P. Tom Sawyer Park is not named after our favorite Mark Twain character, but rather a Jefferson County executive judge named Erbon Powers “Tom” Sawyer (1915-1969). What a name, huh?
This friendly and easily accessible park is located in Louisville’s east end, off of Westport Road and is a perfect wooded urban oasis – it’s an impeccably clean, well-maintained landscape and separated into three, 2-acre fenced areas. One area is specifically for small dogs (30 lbs or less), no exception. The other two areas are for good boys, girls and theys of any size. There is plenty of seating in the form of wooden benches and gazebos.
The areas are vast and open in the front of the park, and more wooded in the ‘back’ area with dirt and gravel trails. This is a major plus for me personally, I like to get some exercise in while Dougie does his cardio.
A portion of the wooded area tends to flood, and forms a pond of sorts. A nature-made splash pad, if you will. This is something I consider a plus. They also have water spigots, kiddie pools (or should I say, doggie pools?), sprinklers and tennis balls galore. I love to see my boy happy and he is happiest when covered in mud, plopped down in some form of (hopefully clean-ish) water.
Either way, mess or not, they have an adorable, red shed (Ode to Snoopy, perhaps?) set up as a wash station. There are plenty of poop bags and several receptacles for said waste and various trash.
10/10 paws up! Sawyer Dog Park is mine and Dougie’s personal favorite.
Champions Dog Run
Champions Dog Run is drool-worthy, people! Nestled into the corner of River Road and Zorn Avenue, a quaint 3.6 acres atop little rolling hills of a former golf course. This is one of the newer and smaller dog parks in Louisville, but it is also one of the least crowded.
Great shade is provided by gazebos as well as draping canopies of weeping willows (my favorite). The perfect spot for those anti-social days, or maybe you have some work to do. Have a seat under one of the gazebos, while your furry friend lays in one of the pools.
Although neighboring the highway, it is quiet and serene. Not to mention, clean and well-maintained, including the porta-potties. Parking is easily accessible and aplenty.
The area is open and grassy, so more room for furry friends to run, or roam (Dougie is a roamer) and less opportunity for muddy buddies. There are water fountains for you and your dog. Waste bags and receptacles are provided and well kept.
And if you and your dog are the morning mall-walker types, there are paved walkways and dirt trails that encircle the lush greenery, like the 1.3-mile walking trail that loops around the dog park! Perfect for running or walking, and oftentimes you and your doggo will likely be the only ones on it. Just keep your friends leashed up, and watch for holes in the fence (remember, it borders the interstate). Get some exercise or get your zen on (whatever your fancy).
Cochran Hill Dog Run
Oh Goodness, what can I say about Cherokee Park that hasn’t already been said!? What a beaut (swoon!). Living in the Highlands, this is my go-to spot. Not only does Dougie love it, but it’s also a precious reprieve for me. It may just be one of the most cherished dog parks in Louisville.
A tucked away, 2-acre urban oasis, right off Lexington Road, the grass really is always greener over here, ya’ll! Literally, the landscape is beautiful, the trees are lush and the people are friendly. It’s its own little tight-knit community.
Just like the other 7 Louisville Dog Run Association parks, Cochran Hill Dog Run in Cherokee Park is clean, open and beautiful. Seating and shade is available in the form of benches, chairs and gazebos. However it is a smaller park, so options are more limited.
When I’m feeling like spoiling myself (most days), I grab a large, BeeKeeper Cold Brew from neighboring Heine Brothers and I head on over to where everybody knows my name. They don’t, but a girl can dream, right? It is that type of place anyways.
There are three different areas fenced off, one specifically for the little guys, one for all-sized pups, and one that is more secluded for the guys and gals that might not be feeling so sociable or polite (I love this idea).
There are plenty of tennis balls and ropes provided by the Association, as well as ample waste bags and tended-to trash bins. There are several water spigots scattered about, a water fountain, a washing station with an attached hose, and wading pools.
It can get a little busy here, but that’s what I love about it. Busier times tend to be around lunch and after work. This is a perfect spot if you and your little one are feeling social. Owners here are strict with rule-following, but they also like to have fun. Everyone is always on their best behavior, four-legged and two-legged alike.
Heads up, the grass is a little less sparse in certain areas, so it can become quite muddy after rain or snow. Good thing for the cleaning station! But, bring a towel also!
Vettiner Dog Run
In the east end of Jeffersontown (J-town), Vettiner Dog Run is a beautifully wooded area akin to Sawyer Park, but more intimate (2 acres). It is located within Charlie Vettiner Park, behind the tennis courts.
Its high vantage point makes for wonderful views of the park in its entirety, and the surrounding areas. It is a bit of a trek, but worth it if you are looking for an environment with fewer people and more space for your pup.
There are also several points of entry into the park with plenty of parking lots and spots. There’s more of a rugged feel here (feels more rural) with ample trees and bushes for shade and rest stops.
Not to mention several ponds and a beautiful waterfall (weather permitting) just outside of the dog park, with plenty of open space and trails (paved and dirt) for you and your side-kick to explore (leash-on, of course). As well as plenty of benches, gazebos, water spigots and a water fountain on either side of the park.
If you are wanting less noise and to be less vigilant, this is a perfect park to post up at (unless a sporting event is taking place). Or get in your cardio around the trails with your pup! Waste bins are plentiful and look to be newly changed. No trash or rogue waste bags on site.
Dougie’s tip, waste bags are available, but sometimes sparse at this location, so bring extra if ya got ‘em.
The Barklands of Floyds Fork
The Barklands of Floyd’s Fork blows the others out of the park (pun intended) in terms of cleanliness, pristine landscapes, well-orchestrated modern designs, and architecture. This is one of the newer parks in Louisville, located about 15 minutes east of Vettiner Park, off of Shelbyville Road.
The Barklands Dog park is visible from the Beckley Creek Park entrance, but if you are directionally challenged like me, there is plenty of signage and even a welcome center for all you extra curious folks. You can’t miss it! Literally. A giant bone is embossed into the pavement leading into the park, with a gaggle of lime-green fire hydrants serving as a doggy welcoming committee.
This 4,000-acre park is one of the newest and largest urban parks in the nation, which includes ponds for fishing, creeks for kayaking, gardens for perusing and large lush fields for picnicking or playing.
Now this is some green grass! Dougie and I are more of the rugged, rural type ourselves, but this is where we go when we are feeling regal! Similar to the other dog park designs, there are three designated areas, one for big, one for little and one they keep off-limits, as a means of rotating in order to maintain the grass.
The park is always hosting events, sports, theatrical, educational and so on. Definitely not a regular spot for us, but a must-see, special occasion adventure locale for sure!
Elizabeth Cleland Cauley Dog Park
Now this is wayyyy out, especially for Louisvillian standards, about 20 minutes northeast of Louisville. But a wonderful park nonetheless, and perfect for those folks (still Louisvillians) living on the outskirts of town.
A little dated in comparison to the pedigree of Beckley Creek Park, but much more comfortable with a hometown vibe. The dogs and their people could not be nicer.
This two-acre plot of land, located south of the Oldham County Dispatch and Community Centers (across from the softball fields), is easily accessible and family-friendly. The park is usually pretty quiet and empty. If you and/or your pup are more introverted, this is the place to be!
There are talks to add some amenities, such as a water fountain and more seating, but for now it is essentially one big open area. But there is grass, and there are trees, and that’s enough to get my dog’s tail wagging. The park is well-maintained by the community and there are receptacles available for the mess and porta-potties for the rest. A good place to stop by with your pets if you are in the area.
Waverly Dog Run
The Waverly Dog Run is roughly 1.5 acres and is located within the wonderfully forested Waverly Park in Louisville’s South end. Why does Waverly ring a bell, you ask? Well, you may have heard of a little place by the name of Waverly Hills Sanatorium, that may or may not be haunted (JK it’s definitely haunted).
Aside from the spooky history nearby, this is truly a remarkable landscape. By far my favorite of the parks in that regard. It is small, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in scenery. Highly recommend making the trek that way when the seasons are changing.
The winding roads leading up to the park are perfect to take in all of the vibrant colors of Spring and Fall. To get to the dog park, go to the very end of Waverly Park Road and you’ll be met with parking and restrooms.
The park is not divided, so make sure your pup can play well with a doggo of any size and capacity.
This is one of the least maintained parks. The area itself is relatively open, grassy and shaded, but there are no trash receptacles in or immediately around the dog park. Unfortunately, there tends to be a pile of waste bags against the fence. Some of the neighboring trails are a bit unkempt as well, so watch for litter or broken glass.
This place has a lot, A LOT of potential. For hiking folks, Waverly Park offers five different trails, if you and your companion like to hike like Dougie and I do. They range from easy to moderately strenuous (dealer’s choice).
Old Louisville Dog Run
The Old Louisville Dog Run is a 2-acre dog park that is divided into two separate parks located within Toonerville Trolley Park. Parking is street only and can be a bit limited. The park is nestled neatly into a friendly neighborhood of the Ol’ Ville, at the corner of Oak and Brook Streets.
One park is built over an old tennis court. The court is simply used for exercise, perfect if you live close by and have a rambunctious furry friend. The other is a small grassy area with a handful of benches, a wading pool, a water spigot with a hose, and a few bowls.
There are not any facilities on the property, and no trash bins are located within the dog park itself. The area is quiet and quaint, great for a quick outing if you live nearby.
The park has heart, don’t get me wrong, it just needs a little more love. The park could use some more maintenance as a whole. Last time I was here, the gate was broken, but it did stay shut and I felt safe and secure (The Louisville Dog Run Association is working on fixing the broken key fob). But the grassy dog park itself is picked-up, organized and usually empty. Another great spot for all you introverts.
Non-Membership Dog Parks in Louisville
Whether you’re visiting from out of town, or you just dabble in the dog park life, you don’t have to feel left out of the Louisville dog park scene if you don’t have a membership. Louisville also offers a membership-free dog park!
Morton Avenue Dog Park
Morton Avenue Dog Park has got character for days! And it’s the ONE off-leash dog park in Louisville that does not require a membership. A flat, one-acre (give or take) area on Morton Avenue, to the left of Jefferson County Traditional Middle School, and only a stone’s throw away from you Highland-er folk, between Baxter and Barrett Avenues.
Great location, near plenty of dog-friendly venues and patios! Tons of off-street parking is available (which may be limited on the occasion of a school event). I tell you there is never a dull moment here.
What I love most about this park is the love and community it represents. Although not as top-notch as the Association-manicured parks, it is obvious that the community takes great pride in maintaining the space to create a fun, eclectic and safe environment for dogs and their people.
It is like the hole-in-the-wall cousin of Cochran Hill (I LOVE a good hole-in-the-wall, so this is a compliment!).
Neighboring businesses like O’shea’s and Flanagan’s Ale House also volunteer their time and resources to help with upkeep. The water situation works like a cooperative, where everyone does their duty to keep large jugs filled with that good ol’ Louisville tap water. There are several large drinking bowls, so there is no need to fight over water.
Picnic tables and Adirondack chairs line the park, with plenty of trees for shade. The grass is extremely sparse, it is mostly loose dirt and wood chips, but this is certainly not a deal-breaker for me. Just prepare for mini dust bowls when all the little ones simultaneously get the zoomies.
There are trash cans for trash only, and several designated doggy-waste bins. This is genius! Makes for a much better-smelling park. And there are waste bags and toys available for all.
There is no separate area for little ones, and the park can be busy at peak times (early am, lunch, after work), so not ideal for dogs with anxiety or without the best social skills. The park is laid back and diverse, like being at a family reunion (minus the tension).
Also, you will notice a lot of ash strays strapped down to the tables, this is a very cigarette-smoking-friendly park. The ash strays are always cleaned out and I have not seen one loose cigarette butt, BUT heads up, there will be people smoking cigarettes.
Dog Park Bars in Louisville
Let’s be honest, it took way too long for someone to realize that combining a bar with a dog park would be the most genius idea in the history of the world. But thank gawd they did. These Louisville dog park bars might be my favorite place in the world.
PG&J Dog Park Bar
PG&J Dog Park Bar is the first dog park bar in Louisville! Locally owned and operated. The unique name makes up the first letter of each of the owner’s four pups! (Including the most recent foster-turned-adoptee, Austin, that’s what the ampersand stands for..how cute!). Of course I can’t not mention the other three now: Paco, Ginnie and J Roddy.
The inside is heated and with plenty of space. High tops and TVs aplenty, and the garage doors open up to the nearly 8,000 square feet of outdoor play area. The mulched ground is spacious and houses several secure jungle gyms and agility ramps.
There are patio tables and Adirondack chairs spread out neatly, in between fire pits (in the winter) and cornhole tables (all year round). You do not need a dog to enter, all are welcome, but you do have to sign a liability waiver.
Aside from said tap takeovers, they have ‘Take Over Tuesdays’ where you get to celebrate your particular breed of dog (I don’t know what Dougie is, but when I find out, you better believe I’m telling them!). They also host trivia, comedy nights, ‘Wine Down Wednesdays,’ and packages for customizable doggy birthday parties.
Get a buzz going (no more than a buzz type place), get your dog out, and feel like a philanthropist all at the same time, since a portion of all proceeds goes towards select, local rescue organizations. Their mission is to have FUN, and go out for a drink with your best companion, while also being a part of advocating and fundraising for the local animal rescue community.
There are rules and regulations for doggos and their owners. But a quick rundown of the non-negotiables, dogs must be 4 months or older, must have up-to-date vaccine records, and must be spayed/neutered.
If you do have a dog, you must purchase a membership package, but they are very reasonable. I did the 5 day pass for $25, good for 1 year. Daily passes are $10 per dog, and monthly passes are $29.95 per dog. Dougie and I will certainly be in need of the $249.95 yearly membership (sorry, wallet).
Dougie and I will see you there! I’ll be the one with the mocktail in hand (they serve several! Including tea, energy drinks and coffee) and Dougie will be the little furry gentleman with white socks, sniffing butts. Parking is limited yes, but for all of us in The Highlands area, it is easily walkable or bike-able. Come on, we millennials are still young(ish) and spry.
Club K9 Dog Bar
If you are closer to J-Town, consider checking out Club K9 Dog Bar on Taylorsville Road.
The 7,000 square foot off-leash area is perfect year-round. It’s heated in the winter, and air-conditioned in the summer. But if it’s summer, you’re definitely going to want to take advantage of the additional outdoor acre, complete with a splash pad and pool. And don’t worry tiny dog friends, there’s even a separate small dog area so all can play safely.
They also host a slew of weekly events like trivia, music bingo, karaoke, breed meet-ups, and monthly shopping bazaars, so keep an eye on their Facebook page! Out-of-towners have also commented that Club K9 is one of the premier dog park bars in the country, probably due to the awesome amount of events and themed splash pad!
Like PG&J Dog Park Bar, vaccinations and memberships are required. Be sure to read the rules and submit all required documents before your first visit. If you are curious to check it out, daily memberships are just $10 for your first dog, and only $5 for any additional pup. And if you and your four-legged best friend are ready to be a bit more social, monthly membership starts at $40 first the first pup, and just $10 for anyone extra.
But let’s be real, with a full bar and rotating food trucks for the humans, and an indoor, outdoor, and pool area for pooches – you’re gonna want to look into the yearly membership. It’s $300 for a year, with $50 for any other friends you might have.
About the Author: Kara Abell is a Kentucky native currently living in Louisville with her trusty dog and sidekick, Dougie. She is a graduate of the University of Kentucky, with a degree in Psychology and Spanish. Kara enjoys everything outdoors, traveling, music, meeting new people and forever learning.
What’s your favorite dog park? What questions can we answer? Drop us a comment below!
Before you go, be sure to check out these other posts:
- The 16 Best Bars in Louisville, Kentucky
- The 25 Coolest Things To Do in Louisville in Summer
- 12 Lakes Near Louisville, Kentucky (for Swimming & Boating!)
- 14 Incredible Museums in Louisville, Kentucky
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