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A puppy looks at the other dogs while resting at Central Bark Dog Park in Irvine on Oct. 15. (Andrea Clemett / Daily Titan)

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Lots of owners come to Huntington Dog Beach to soak up some rays with their furry friends. (Andrea Clemett / Daily Titan)

There’s only so much exercise and freedom that dogs can get from roaming through a small apartment or traversing the same backyard space day after day. So when your furry friends  start to fall victim to the boredom of their everyday surroundings, grab their best collar and hit the road. It’s time for an adventure. 

For those moments when it’s time to let the dogs off the leash, here are three dog parks located in Orange County that are perfect for every kind of dog. 

Friends of Laguna Beach Dog Park

Nestled between the hills on Laguna Canyon Road is the Friends of Laguna Beach Dog Park. The park has areas designated for small or large dogs with dog sanitary stations nearby. The dog park has a variety of visitors with 70% of daily locals and others who drive in from surrounding cities. Marc Buchan, a member of  the board of directors, said  the park has seen an influx of new visitors in the past month.

Buchan said the open space gives owners a chance to bond with their animals while being among the unique and friendly community of dogs and dog lovers.

Kayla Leland, who owns a five-month-old Australian Shepherd, has visited the park a few times since she is trying to socialize her puppy. Her puppy was shy and unsure when first visiting the park since she is smaller in size, but now she gets excited and is less fearful when playing with the other dogs. The park is near her home and she prefers this park since it always has a variety of dogs present, Leland said. 

The Central Bark Dog Park 

Dogs can enjoy off-leash play in almost three acres of open field in Irvine at the Central Bark Dog Park. This park offers the amenities of dog water fountains, covered seating, lighting fixtures and handicap access. The space accommodates a diverse dog size with a main yard for large dogs and a separate fenced area for small or frail dogs.

“Dogs can get out and be active which is important for the dog’s health, both mentally and physically,” said Gina Ferrante, community services program coordinator for the City of Irvine.

Ferrante notes that while the park is in constant usethroughout the day, peak use typically occurs in the early mornings and early evenings. The park provides a safe environment for dogs to socialize, while it also allows for opportunities for owners to meet other dog owners and share experiences, she added. 

“Staff frequently meet with the community to listen to recommendations and collaborate on improving the facility,” Ferrante said. “A relationship with the community truly makes this dog park a special facility.”

The Dog Beach

Dogs can enjoy their slice of the beach in Huntington Beach, locally known as Surf City. Martin Senat founded the dog beach in 1998, which extends 1.5 miles between Goldenwest and Seapoint. Dogs have the option of roaming off-leash as soon as their paws hit the sand. 

The Preservation Society of Huntington Dog Beach (PSHDB) is a non-profit which strives to keep the beach clean in order to maintain the beach for dogs to play. They currently have 22 dog bag dispensers that are stationed on the bike path located in between the Seapoint and the pier. According to the non-profit, they restock them twice a week and visitors of the area use about 3,000 dog waste bags per day. 

PSHDB recommends when introducing dogs to the water, to do so very slowly and at the dog's own pace. They suggest never forcing the dog in the water and in some cases, the dog may not enjoy the water. However, they can still enjoy the sand and socialization. In other cases some dogs may naturally know how to swim but they recommend that owners still monitor even the best swimmers by not throwing the tennis balls too far out to sea. 

Dog parks are alternative exercise destinations if pet owners are living in a smaller space that does not have room for dogs to play or the ability to play off-leash. Check the parks’ websites for operation hours and closure days.

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