Green Dog Program Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I register and sign up for the Green Dog Program?
View the Registration Information and Instructions webpage.
- Where can I take my dog off-leash and how were the off-leash hours and parks determined?
View the new green dog park interactive map or download our green dog parks map to find a park with off-leash hours. The Park and Recreation Commission established off-leash hours and parks to balance the needs of both dog owners and visitors without dogs. The program was developed with the following considerations:
- Park size
- Wildlife / sensitive areas / gardens
- Historic areas
- Passive and active uses of the parks
- Park users / neighbors
- Athletic fields
- Impact on schools and children
- Distribution of parks throughout town
The commission also sought public input through public meetings, and conducted a pilot program and assessment prior to full implementation.
- I visited a park during off-leash hours, but the park was closed. Why is this?
Fields may be completely closed when they are wet due to inclement weather, if heavy rain is anticipated, during the spring thaw, or for other reasons related to maintaining healthy fields. We post park closed signs, but you can also call the green dog hotline, 617-879-4850, 24 hours a day to check if the fields are closed, or you can call the Parks Division Monday - Friday, 7 a.m. - 3 p.m. at 617-879-5650.
Please also use your judgment about using the fields in wet conditions. Note that synthetic turf fields generally do not close due to weather, but dogs are not allowed on these fields, whether on or off-leash. You are still welcome to walk your leashed dog on the paved paths at any time, including during field closures.
- Why are there no evening off-leash hours?
The Park and Recreation Commission considered the needs of both dog owners and non-dog owners when establishing the off-leash hours. There are currently no evening off-leash hours since most parks have heavy use from other users during this time, particularly during the athletic season. Two of our parks, Brookline Avenue Playground and Larz Anderson Park, do have off-leash hours from dawn to dusk during the winter months (December to February).
- Why doesn’t Brookline have a dog park, so dogs can always be off-leash?
Brookline is an urban community with a limited amount of park space available. Many different types of users value and appreciate our well-maintained network of open spaces, and we have to balance the needs of these users. A dedicated dog park would require taking existing parkland and converting it to this use. The Park and Recreation Commission has not identified an ideal location for a dog park at this time.
- Why do I need to license my dog?
Massachusetts state law requires that all dogs over 6 months be licensed. Licensing also requires proof of rabies vaccination. Licensing is critical to ensuring the health of our canine friends and other people, and can help identify your dog if they become lost. For more information, contact the Town Clerk’s Office at 617-730-2010.
- Why do I need to pay a fee to participate?
The Green Dog Program is an optional recreation program and a service to the community. Fees are charged similar to other recreation programs, and are used by the town to cover costs incurred by the program, including:
- Park ranger services
- Assistance and oversight in the parks
- Program administration and tags
- Web updates, informational materials and signage
- Communication and outreach with participants
- Monitoring of park conditions
- Evaluation of program usage
- Program improvements
- I visited a park during off-leash hours, but was told my dog had to be on-leash. Why is this?
Off-leash hours may occasionally be suspended at any park. If there is a permitted activity, such as a school group activity or a sports game, dogs must be on-leash for their safety and the comfort of other park users. When parks crews are working in the parks, dogs must be on-leash for the safety of both the animals and the crews.
- How do I report a violation of off-leash hours or other dog issues?
You can report off-leash or other violations when you are in the park to the Brookline Police Department at 617-730-2222. Someone is available to take your call 24 hours a day. We encourage you to contact the Police if you witness an aggressive dog or other unsafe conditions in a park.
Park rangers also regularly patrol the parks and assist visitors, and are available to discuss any violations or concerns you have. You can also report issues by calling 617-879-5650 or via email.
- Could off-leash hours or parks change in the future?
The Park and Recreation Commission continues to assess the success of the Green Dog Program. They also consider information obtained from park ranger reports, police reports, and public comments in their assessment. Off-leash hours or parks could change in the future since the Park and Recreation Commission does has the authority to temporarily or permanently close, or modify the boundaries of off-leash areas for any of the following reasons:
- Environmental damage
- Failure to comply with rules and regulations
- Public health or safety
- Serious unanticipated problems affecting other park users
If any changes are made to the program, updates will be posted on this website, park signage will be changed, and often neighbors will be notified.
- My usual park is closed for renovations, or due to field conditions. Where can I go with my dog?
View the new green dog park interactive map or download our green dog parks map to find another park with off-leash hours. In addition, you may walk your leashed dog at any of our active parks, excluding synthetic turf fields, playgrounds, sand boxes, tennis courts, basketball courts, nature sanctuaries and planted flower and shrub beds. Please observe park signage and note that certain other areas may also be closed to dogs (e.g., a portion of Harry Downes Field).
- I’m a dog walker. Can I bring my clients to play and exercise off-leash?
Dog walkers are required to register for the program and will receive a permit for their business. In addition, all individual dogs must be registered to participate. Everyone, including dog walkers, are limited to 3 off-leash dogs per person at a time. Dogs must be under voice control and in sight at all times. It is not recommended to bring multiple on and off-leash dogs, since you will not be able to easily attend to the off-leash dogs if necessary.
- Can my friends and visitors bring their dogs to play off-leash in Brookline?
Guest permits are available for visitors. A 2-day permit costs $5 and a 1 week permit costs $10. All dogs must be licensed and have a current rabies vaccination to participate in the off-leash program. In addition to being licensed, the other criteria for the dogs include the following: dogs must be at least 4 months old, not in heat, vaccinated, healthy, and not aggressive towards other dogs or people. Friends and visitors must follow all other program rules and regulations.
Non-residents who want to take their dogs off-leash more often are also welcome to register for the program.
- Why do I have to pick up after my dog?
Picking up after your dog, whether on or off-leash is required by Brookline town bylaw, and is punishable by fines and/or removal from the park and the off-leash program. Everyone should bring something with them, such as a bag, for cleaning up, and should pay particular attention when dogs are off-leash. Cleaning up feces is not only the law, it is also the polite, responsible thing to do.
Since all our parks are shared by many users, it is particularly important to remove feces so other users, such as children playing sports or people picnicking, don’t come into contact with these messy, potentially unhealthy remains.
In addition, we ask all users to discard all trash and take other personal items with them when they leave.
- I saw an aggressive dog in a park. What should I do?
We encourage you to contact the police if you witness or are involved in incidents of aggression towards people, other dogs, or wildlife. They are available at 617-730-2222, 24 hours a day, or 911 for emergencies. Brookline's bylaws are quite clear that aggressive dogs are not permitted off or on leash.
If individuals feel they or their pets are being threatened, then it is reasonable for the offending dog to be put on leash and/or removed from the area depending on the severity of the situation. Owners can lose off-leash privileges and/or be fined, and dogs can even be impounded if the situation warrants it. Brookline Park Rangers and the Animal Control Officer also patrol the parks regularly and can assist in these situations.
- What are Green Dog Liaisons?
Green Dog Liaisons are residents who frequently visit a particular park and have volunteered to be a liaison between our office and other dog owners and park users. Most of our parks with off-leash hours have liaisons. When appropriate, we will pass on comments, complaints, etc. that we receive to the liaison(s) for that park. The liaisons can then inform other users of any problems, positive feedback, or updates. This system allows for information to get to park users very quickly and smoothly and helps keep the Green Dog Program successful.
- How do I find out more information or make suggestions about the program?
The Park and Recreation Commission, Parks and Open Space Division, and Recreation Department all welcome your questions and comments. Please check the Green Dog Program webpage for further information and updates or contact us at 617-879-5650 or via email.