Shaw Park Proposed Off Leash Dog Area

Visit Shaw Park

Sonoma County Regional Parks has received numerous requests to consider providing some use of Shaw Park for off leash dogs. This 5 acre neighborhood park features a soccer field area, picnic area and playground. For many years the Kenwood Soccer Association has partnered with Regional Parks to assist with field maintenance during the soccer season, but that agreement has expired and presently there are no organized recreational athletic leagues utilizing the field.  The field is regularly used by non league groups and individuals for informal games and practice.

Neighborhood Survey

A Neighborhood survey was distributed to 264 park neighbors on July 24, 2015 and due by August 17, 2015.  This survey provided a brief explanation of a “dog off leash area” and asked various questions about the level of support and concerns for allowing such use at the park. 117 responses were received with 49.5% in support of some type off-leash dog utilization, 36% opposed and 14.4% responding that they “don’t mind either way.”

Survey Statistics

  • 264 surveys mailed to park neighbors on July 24, 2015 (within ¼ mile of Shaw Park)
  • 117 responses received (106 from mailing / 11 from community meeting) received or postmarked by August 17, 2015

1. Would you like to see Off Leash Dog Hours established at Shaw Park?

  • Yes: 49.5%
  • No: 36.0%
  • Don’t mind either way: 14.4%  

2. Check box based on your level of support of each of the options below:

Supportive No Opinion Not Supportive Level of Support Rating
55% 6% 39% Off leash dog hours – daily (limited hour’s am/pm)
21% 15% 63% Off leash dog hours – weekends only (specific hours)
15% 19% 66% Off leash dog hours – specific dates/times only, bi-monthly
45% 12% 42% Off leash dog hours – 7-days a week - non-athletic field areas only
41% 12% 47% No off leash dog hours


3. Check box based on your level of concern for each of the considerations below:

Not Concerned Somewhat Concerned Highly Concerned Level of Concern Rating 
39% 15% 45% The need for an off leash dog area in Kenwood
32% 39% 29% Potential conflicts with athletic field use
47% 15% 38% Potential vehicle parking/traffic increases
32% 32% 37% Field Condition – Hazards from dogs digging/use during wet conditions
33% 29% 38% Impacts to neighborhood, park users, wildlife, etc…
29% 23% 47% Aggressive dogs, dog fights, conflicts between large dogs & small dogs
18% 28% 54% Responsible actions by dog owners
31% 31% 39% Increased facility costs and wear & tear

Be Involved

Community Meeting #2

Date: Monday, October 5, 2015
Time: 6 - 7 p.m.
Location: Shaw Park, 120 Shaw Avenue, Kenwood

Sonoma County Regional Parks staff will review information and feedback received to date and share information regarding off leash dog areas in other nearby jurisdictions.

Community Meeting #1

On August 10, 2015, over 50 community members attended a meeting at Shaw Park to discuss the elements of an off leash dog area and the pro’s and con’s of potentially designating an area at the park. A wide range of comments were received during the meeting and are summarized as follows:

  • Dogs could interfere with the use of the athletic field or cause damage.
  • The field and park was given to the community for youth sports.
  • Concerns that Shaw Park could become a dog park destination.
  • The park should be focused on the needs of the local neighborhood.
  • Aggressive or poorly behaved dogs and the presence of children at the playground.
  • Noise from barking or dog owners calling their animals.
  • Desire to self police and self regulate uses at park.
  • Desire for the County to not enforce the leash law at the park. 

Outcomes and Next Steps

  1. Based on the Shaw Neighborhood Survey Results and Community Meeting on August 10, 2015, there is significant interest in providing some type of limited Dog off Leash Hours at the park.
  2. Regional Parks seeks partnership with an organization or group to develop a plan, budget, and the fundraising necessary to manage a pilot project allowing the use.
  3. Community Meeting #2:  Monday, October 5, 2015 to review the information and feedback received to date and share information regarding off leash dog areas in other nearby jurisdictions.

Off Leash Dog Area Best Practices

Off Leash Dog Areas are sites that have a shared use with sports or other recreational activities. Dog off leash utilization is secondary to the primary use(s) of the park. Conversely, a dog park is exclusively for dog use.

  1. Hours - sports fields designated for off leash use are open during hours specified on posted signs. Sports fields designated for off leash use are closed when players are present for games, practices, tournaments and when fields are being mowed and maintained.
  2. Boundaries- clear boundaries will be posted for off leash use. A wood or wire fence with gate will be installed to restrict pets from any playground or picnic areas. The remainder of the area would remain open and off leash animals will be required to respond to voice control and remain on the approved field area during off leash hours. 
  3. Infrastructure – installing and maintaining signage, dog bag dispenser(s), and regular emptying of trash cans onsite.
  4. Compatibility - monitoring of the impacts to field / turf, visitor compliance with posted hours, feedback from park users and neighbors during the trial period.
  5. Enforcement – a system to report and manage owners not watching their dogs, aggressive dogs and the removal of pet waste. These are common issues with dog off leash areas.

Sample Rules and Regulations: Off Leash Dog Area

The following rules shall be followed by all dog owners or custodians utilizing the off leash area.

  1. Sports field is designated for off leash use only during specified times posted on signs.
  2. The off leash hours may be restricted or modified at any time by Regional Parks or organized sports groups who have reserved the area. This includes sports activities, practices, tournaments, field preparations and other maintenance as necessary on the field.
  3. Always carry a leash. Dogs shall be leashed upon entering and leaving off leash dog area.
  4. Pick up after your dog and properly dispose of waste in trash cans. Bring extra bags in the event the bag dispenser is empty.
  5. Watch your dog. Dog owners shall keep their dogs in sight and under competent voice control at all times.
  6. Dog owners shall remain with their dogs within the off leash area at all times.
  7. Any holes dug by dogs shall be filled by dog owner.
  8. Aggressive or unruly dogs, including dogs that play rough, are not allowed.
  9. Dog owners or custodians are fully responsible for dogs and their actions.
  10. No excessive barking.
  11. No more than 3 dogs per person allowed in the off leash area.
  12. Female dogs in heat are prohibited.
  13. All dogs must be licensed with current vaccinations.

Note: Based on research from the City of Santa Rosa, City of Petaluma and other park agencies with established off leash dog areas at similar type facilities. 


Questions or Comments?

Contact Project Manager:

Bert Whitaker
Call:  (707) 565-3064
Email:  Bert Whitaker

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