About the dog parks

Off-leash dog parks provide excellent opportunities for exercise, socialization, and training. Iowa City Parks and Recreation maintains two off-leash dog parks: Thornberry Off-Leash Dog Park and Rita's Ranch. Iowa City's off-leash dog parks are maintained by the City of Iowa City and were founded in partnership with the Johnson County Dog Park Action Committee.

Thornberry Off-leash Dog Park

Located at 1867 Foster Rd.

Thornberry Off-Leash Park opened in 2006 and is an 11-acre park divided into sections to accommodate most dogs needs:

  • The Linder Tire Service Small Dog Yard is designated for dogs less than 18 inches tall at the shoulder. There is an asphalt path to the shelter and room to run.
  • Emma's Run is available for dogs that may not do well with other dogs, but need a large area to run. Dogs may remain on a leash for individual or group training in this area only. 
  • Lucky Pawz Playground is the largest area. There are paved paths and two shelters with benches.
  • Lily's Pond is a separate, fenced area with a 15-foot deep pond available for dog swimming when weather permits. 

Rita's Ranch 

Located at 640 S. Scott Blvd.

Opened in 2009, Iowa City's second dog park is a three-acre area within Scott Park. Rita's Ranch includes a Lucky Pawz Playground area. Please note, Rita's Ranch is located in a water retention area and all or part will be closed following heavy rain, spring thaw or when necessary to protect the turf. 

Watch this short video for an overview of the dog parks and the rules to follow when using them. 

Dog park tags and day passes 

All dogs must display either a park permit tag or a day pass to use the off-leash dog parks. Owners without permits or passes may be fined $100 for each offense. Iowa City residents must have a current City of Iowa City Animal License to get a park tag. Proof of rabies vaccination is also required to use the parks. 

One-year permit tags may be purchased at the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center, the Robert A. Lee Community Recreation Center, and at both dog parks if staff is present. A copy of the dog's up-to-date rabies vaccination records must be submitted with the dog park application at the time of purchase. Annual tags are good from January 1 - December 31. 

Download a dog park tag application here.

One-year permit tags cost:

  • $53 for Iowa City residents
  • $58 for non-residents
    Discounts of $5 per year are available for dogs that are spayed or neutered.

Day passes are available for $5 per dog. Day pass envelopes can be found in the dispensers at the dog park entrances.

Please use the parks responsibly.

Dog park rules

1. All dogs must 

  • be at least 16 weeks old to enter
  • be fully vaccinated for rabies
  • display a permit for use of the park
  • be accompanied by a responsible person at least 16 years of age
  • be on leash when entering or exiting the off-leash area
  • be under the handler’s visual contact and voice control at all times

2. The following dogs are not allowed in the park

  • vicious, dangerous or aggressive dogs
  • dogs with communicable diseases
  • dogs in heat

3. Dog handlers must

  • clean up after their dogs; biodegradable waste disposal bags and receptacles are provided
  • carry a leash for each dog in the park
  • discourage dogs from excessive barking and dominating behavior
  • stop dogs from digging and fill holes made by their dog
  • be responsible for actions and behavior of their dogs at all times
  • remove pinch, choke and spike collars prior to entering the park
  • not have more than two dogs in the park at one time

4. Children must be at least 16 years old to accompany a dog at the park without adult supervision. Children under the age of 16 must be supervised at all times.

5. Electronic training devices are restricted to the training and agility area. 

6. Wheeled devices, except wheelchairs and strollers, are not allowed.

7. Tobacco products and e-cigarettes are prohibited.

8. No food allowed in the park except for small training treats.

9. Dogs over 18 inches at the shoulder are not allowed in the small dog yard.

10. Users of the facility do so at their own risk.

11. Other park rules and ordinances may apply.

12. Violations should be reported to Iowa City Animal Services at 356-5295.

For more information regarding Iowa City pet regulations, licensing, and adoption, visit the Iowa City Animal Services website.

Lost Something?

If you think that you lost something while at the dog park please email Jeff Sears at jeff-sears@iowa-city.org.

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