AUSTIN, Texas — Off-leash dogs in prohibited areas are one of the biggest complaint made to Austin's park rangers. In 2019, Austin's Parks and Recreation Department had 3,497 contacts with park users for dogs off-leash. 

"People have an expectation: They show up to an on-leash park, they expect dogs to be on-leash and not running up to them," said Park Ranger Adam Jones. "Some of the reasons we get are, say, someone's afraid of dogs or their children are afraid of dogs, and they go to an on-leash park expecting the pets to all be under control and they're not." 

There's a lot of different types of dogs that roam around Austin parks, which is why "All Pets on Leash" signs are in place at many of them.

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“It is clearly marked in most parks, but Austin City Code says, in the absence of a sign, you have to assume it’s an on-leash area," said Jones.

One reason the signs are in place is the safety of kids and adults in the parks. And not all dogs on-leash are friendly to another dog who may approach it off-leash.

“The other reason is watersheds. Off-leash dogs tend to, if they do their business, it tends to be out of sight from the owner, gets left on the ground, then washes into a sensitive area, like Barton Springs," said Jones.

If you get caught with your dog off-leash, you could get charged a $500 fine. 

If you want to take your dog to an off-leash park, you can find the list of those here.

On the City website, they state, while in off-leash areas, observe these rules:

  • Dogs must be within sight and sound control of owners/handlers at all times
  • Dogs in heat are not allowed in off-leash areas
  • Rabies vaccinations are required for all dogs, as required by State law
  • Owners/handlers must clean up after their dogs and deposit waste into a trash can
  • Aggressive dogs must be removed from public spaces immediately

Austin parks are open for public use each day from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. unless otherwise posted. At times, access is limited or affected by events or maintenance issues. 

To report any park non-emergency issues, call 311, or visit the 311 website to submit a maintenance concern online.

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