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 (click here for park map):

  • The Linder Tire Service Small Dog Yard is designated for dogs less than 18 inches 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. This area can also be used for training by individuals or groups. Agility equipment is available for use with advance notice.
  • 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 (click here for park map). 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. 

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 such permits or passes may be fined $100 for each offense. Iowa City residents must have a current City of Iowa City dog 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. Proof of rabies vaccination and a completed dog park application is required at time of purchase.

Download a dog park tag application here.

One-year permit tags cost:

  • $40 for Iowa City residents
  • $45 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. Electronic training devices are restricted to the training and agility area.

5. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied and supervised by a responsible adult.

6. Wheeled devices, excepting wheel chairs and strollers, are not allowed.

7. Smoking is prohibited within the fenced areas.

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.