Dogs and Madison Parks

Last Updated: 01/29/2020

Board of Park Commissioners

The Board of Park Commissioners will consider the policies and guidelines for on-leash dog access in City of Madison parks on October 2, 2019.

Community Survey

Please note that the Community Survey was closed at 12:00PM on Monday, August 19, 2019. Results are currently being analyzed.

Public Input Meetings

The Board of Park Commissioners and Common Council are in support of reviewing Madison General Ordinance 8.19 which does not allow dogs either on or off-leash in most Madison Parks.  The ordinance prohibits a dog in any public park and any school ground in the city of Madison or City space (City space is defined as any building or portion of a building that is occupied by the City). Exceptions to this prohibition include service dogs, law enforcement dogs, off-leash dog parks and parks where dogs are allowed on-leash and on a path.

The ordinance was originally created in 1973 and has been revised several times.  This review was prompted by the increase in the number of Madison residents and the increase in the number of dog owners in the city.  There has also been an increase in population density in some areas of the city due to multi-family developments, particularly multi-family developments which allow dogs.  The 2018-2023 Park and Open Space Plan stated that Dog Walking was one of the top 10 recreational activities.

Creating a policy which allows dogs in parks could include restrictions on dog access to only certain areas in a park.  The policy will inform any changes to Madison General Ordinance 8.19.

Public Input Meetings 2019 Schedule

Frequently Asked Questions and Related Materials

Dog sitting in the grass at a dog park.
Kovu at Sycamore Dog Park (by Kiara Elise)