The Official Houston SPCA Humane Education Blog

Teaching us about our animal friends

Houston Dog Park Directory

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A healthy and active lifestyle promotes not only our own quality of life, but that of our animal companions. With National Parks & Recreation Month underway in July, there is no time like the present to grab your dog and head out to your neighborhood parks.

Many parks in the Houston area offer separate or adjacent parks designed just for dogs, where they can run, jump, play and exercise. Check out these great options in your community, and make sure to observe safe practices to avoid heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses (link) while out this summer. And don’t forget, each dog park has their own rules for people and the animals they bring. For more information on dog park etiquette, check out our post on dog park manners:


Alexander Deussen Dog Park

Harris County Precinct 1 opened the 5.25-acre Alexander Deussen Dog Park, 12303 Sonnier St., in Houston in July 2010 with separate areas for small and large dogs, plenty of shade, benches and drinking fountains for the entire family to enjoy. The park is fenced for your safety and security.

Congressman Bill Archer Bark Park

This summer, the dogs can have a blast while taking a splash at Congressman Bill Archer Bark Park, 3201 Hwy. 6, across from Bear Creek Park in West Houston. The Harris County Precinct 3 park boasts doggie swimming ponds, water fountains and plenty of shade to keep your animals cool. Open daily from dawn until dusk.

Danny Jackson Bark Park

Another Harris County Precinct 3 property, Danny Jackson Bark Park, 4700 Westpark, offers fun for you and man’s best friend inside the loop, and features separate areas for large and small dogs, each with their own pond, shade trees and a walking path.

Discovery Green Dog Runs

Two dog parks await you at the City of Houston’s lush green space downtown known as Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. The Kinder Large Dog Run and Harriet and Joe Foster Small Dog Run offer your pets their own space for off-leash adventures in the middle of the city’s abundant people park. Crushed gravel ground cover, shade, fountains and seating areas help make an exciting experience for all members of the family.

Ervan Chew Dog Park

Ervan Chew Dog Park, 4502 Dunlavy, was the City of Houston’s first neighborhood park to allow dogs to legally run off leash and provides a fenced-in space of approximately 9,000 square feet from which dogs can exercise without restriction. The park features a small neighborhood park adjacent to the space for the kids, plus a water fountain, large shade trees and benches for the family.

Gene Green Dog Park

Gene Green Dog Park, 6500 E. Sam Houston Parkway, is one of the area’s larger dog parks, and features a pond and plenty of greenery to enjoy with the entire member of your family. A neighboring skate and splash park will have the kids enjoying some outdoor time too at this park operated by Harris County Precinct 2.

Johnny Steele Dog Park

Johnny Steele Dog Park, 2929 Allen Pkwy., sits adjacent to Buffalo Bayou on two beautiful acres near Allen Parkway and Montrose Blvd. The park features large and small dog ponds, large shade structures, water play features, a dog wash station, and drinking fountains for people and dogs. There is limited parking available alongside the Allen Parkway frontage road. The park is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Levy Park

Looking for a small dog park inside the loop? Leave it to Levy Park’s dog park, 3801 Eastside, in Houston, which offers a little shade, ample parking, and a dog water fountain. The park is operated by the City of Houston.

Maxey Bark and Run Park

The approximately 13-acre Maxey Bark and Run Park, 601 Maxey Rd., features separate areas for small and large dogs, a dog shower area, waste disposal stations, and plenty of shade trees to enjoy with your favorite animals.

Millie Bush Bark Park

The 13-acre Harris County Precinct 3 park, 16756 Westheimer Parkway, named after the beloved pet English Springer Spaniel of President George H.W. and Barbara Bush features a double-gated and fenced area for small and large dogs, several swimming ponds, water fountains for people and dogs, and an abundance of shade trees.

Tanglewood Bark Park

Nestled at the corner of Bering and Woodway in Houston lies Tanglewood Bark Park, 5801 Woodway Dr., a small neighborhood park offering off-leash access for you and your dogs. Operated by the City of Houston.

TC Jester Bark Park

This City of Houston park in the city’s northwest side, 4201 TC Jester Blvd., offers separate small and large dog areas, double-gated entrances, a variety of drinking fountains for man and dog, and ample shade trees and benches to rest. Located behind the baseball fields at TC Jester swimming pool.

Tom Bass Regional Dog Park

Operated by Harris County Precinct 1, the Tom Bass Regional Dog Park is located at 3452 Fellows Rd.

West Webster Bark Park

Montrose’s pocket park, West Webster, 1501 W. Webster St., boasts a 5,000 square-foot dog park within that includes a drinking fountain and a dog wash area. Operated by the City of Houston.


A Bounty of Fun Awaits at Baytown Bark Park

Large dogs can find a variety of agility equipment only steps from the neighboring skate park at Baytown Bark Park, 4334 Crosby Cedar Bayou, in Baytown. This 5-acre park features tree-lined walking paths, areas for large and small breeds, covered awning and benches, and wooded trails that connect the parks together in the vicinity.


Canine Fun in Conroe

When the Wiggins Village Park (565 Bryant Rd., Conroe, TX 77303) opened in 1998, it boasted three baseball practice fields that eventually gave way a decade later to one of the area’s largest dog parks after two of those fields were repurposed for you and man’s best friend. Conroe residents can also enjoy access to off-leash playtime at Kasmiersky Park, 889 Old Magnolia Rd.

Deer Park

Enjoy Man’s Best Friend at Ela and Friends

The City of Deer Park features a two-acre dog park next to the Jimmy Burke Activity Center, 500 W. 13th St., constructed by Deer Park Rotary Club and the city.


Plan on a Trip to Mary Jo Peckham Park

The City of Katy offers a 14-acre park near Mary Jo Peckham Park, 5414 Franz Rd., created for both people and dog use, and includes access to lots of shade and trees, a paved walking trail and two water fountains. Dogs will find use of the park’s attractive agility equipment, and you’ll like the abundance of benches and washing areas available.


Aaby Dog Park

A joint initiative between Kingwood Kennels and the Aaby Foundation, the Kingwood Aaby Dog Park, 619 Lakeville Dr., offers residents the opportunity to enjoy off-leash exercise and socialization in a safe and fun environment. Residents must complete a registration form and show proof of updated vaccinations to receive access to the park, good for one year. Open daily from dusk until dawn.


Take in the Shade at Bay Area Bark Park

Pasadena’s five-acre Bay Area Bark Park, 7500 Bay Area Blvd.,  has an abundance of shade with a variety of trees and covered awnings, and features benches, picnic tables, a walking path, dog and people water fountains, a waste bag station, dog showers and separate areas for large and small dogs.


Stroll on Down to Southdown

The City of Pearland offers dogs and their owners a place made just for them, with shade, benches and a variety of brightly-colored agility equipment to enjoy. Southdown Dog Park is located at 2150 County Rd. 94 (Smith Ranch Road).


Pack Your Bags for Pawn Springs

The City of Sugarland operates an exquisite, tropical retreat at Pawn Springs Bark Park, 15300 University Blvd., where dogs and their owners can enjoy a resort-style pond, a beach area, a misting palm tree feature and tropical plants and trees.

The Woodlands

Wet and Wild Fun at Bear Beach Dog Park

Residents and visitors of The Woodlands will enjoy a splash of fun with their dogs at Bear Branch Dog Park, 5200 Research Forest Dr., where visitors will find more than two acres of bark-covered play areas for dogs big and small. A “water play station” provides ample relief from these hot summer months, and amenities including dog waste bag stations and plenty of shade. Please note, children 9 and under are not permitted in the dog park.

Catch Sun and Fun at the Cattail Dog Park

Across from the Palmer Gold Club house in Cattail Park, 9323 Cochrans Crossing Dr., lies a quaint dog park where visitors can enjoy a space to play with their dogs. The park features a double gated and fenced area with doggie bags, a water fountain and cool-off station, and bulletin board for community events.

Small Dogs Rule at Terramont Dog Park

Neighboring the Village of Sterling Ridge, the Terramont Dog Park offers a small park for dogs of 25 lbs. or less.  The park is located at 8500 Terramont Ln.


Burroughs Park Brings Man and Dog Together

The 320-acre Burroughs Park, 9738 Hufsmith Rd., in Tomball lines a beautiful expanse of land, a seven-acre fishing lake and even boasts a dog park to enjoy with your pets. The park, operated by Harris County Precinct 4, includes plenty of shade and eight miles of nature trails.

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How to Choose the Purrrfect Pet for Your Family! PART 2

So you have decided to get a pet for your family – excellent! After reading PART 1 of this series, you have now figured out how much money you can budget for your new pet, who is going to take care of all of your new pet’s needs, and the reasons why you really want a pet for your family.

It’s time to decide what kind of pet would be perfect for your family!

There are many factors to consider before choosing your newest family member:

  1. Space – How much do you have available for your new pet? Do you have an outdoor space available? Is your home ready for a messy animal?
  2. Time – How much time will you have to dedicate to your new pet’s care? Can you find a pet that will match your family’s lifestyle?
  3. Age – If you have children, are they old enough to understand how to treat a pet and care for he/she properly? Will they also understand when the pet eventually passes away?
  4. Allergies – Is anyone in the home allergic to any types of animals? If so, is the family alright with not having that type of animal as a pet?

Once you have answered all of the above questions, you can look to the types of pets below and match them to your family’s wants and needs.

Let’s start with one of our favorite (and most common) pets out there: Dogs!

28. This dog who is dripping swag.

Dogs are excellent pets but they require quite a bit of space, time, and attention. Dogs are great for active families who have lots of time to spend playing with them and taking care of their physical needs such as going on long walks twice a day. Depending on the breed, dogs can be excellent family pets but you will want to make sure to explain how to properly interact with a dog to your children before bringing a new pup into your home.

Dogs can be fantastic companions for the entire family so let’s take a look at their stats:

Space: Dogs need lots of space, a backyard is preferable or areas in which you can take them for nice long walks.

Time: Having a dog will require a lot of your time and attention. They need to be fed twice a day, taken outside to do their business, given time to get exercise and play, as well as begin behavior training.

Age: Dogs have a life-span that can vary among breeds with some living only 8-10 years and others living 14-17 years. Research the breeds your family is interested in to see how long their live and what health issues those breeds may have.

Allergies: Some people are allergic to all dogs and some to just a few breeds. Have your family tested for allergies before bringing home a new pooch.

Next on the list, another one of our favorites: Cats!

Are you ready for these guys??

Cats are much more independent pets and require a bit less of your personal time however they do need a lot of space to roam around. You may not have to take your cat on a walk but you will have to clean their litter every day and provide fresh food and water. Cats are an excellent choice for families who work most of the day and have children who are involved in lots of school activities. Cats, though more independent, will still want attention, play time, and exercise – they might just want it on their own schedule.

Let’s check the stats:

Space: Cats need lots of space to roam around – inside of a house is perfect as long as you have made sure that your house is as ‘cat-proof’ as possible.

Time: Cats need a bit less of your personal time but they will want attention and to have their needs taken care of. Cats are great for people who have to work late but want a companion to pay attention to when they get home.

Age: Cats can live quite a long time, depending on the breed, with some living past 20 years! Research the different breeds of cats that your family is interested in to see the lifespan of those particular cats.

Allergies: Cats have a higher percentage of people allergic to them compared to dogs. Cat allergies can range from incredibly severe (can’t be in a room that a cat has walked into) to minor (can be around cats but can’t pet them). Check for cat allergies in your family before bringing home a new kitty family member.

Well, we’ve covered dogs and cats but how about… Small Mammals!

There are so many different types of small mammals out there for your family to consider adopting. Some of those include: Guinea Pigs, Rabbits, Gerbils, Hamsters, Mice, Fancy Rats, Ferrets, and Chinchillas.

Let’s divide these little fuzzballs into two categories based on levels of care – beginner experience and intermediate experience.

Beginner Experience – You and/or your children have never had a pet before but want to start with a small mammal that is easy to take care of. These would include gerbils, hamsters, and mice.

Double Gerbil Yawn :))))

Too cute!!

All of these particular small mammals need fresh food and water on a daily basis as well as a (small mammal appropriate) cage with fresh bedding. You and your family will want to interact with these little guys every day but not too much as they can frighten easily. You will need to teach your children how to properly hold them and to not squeeze them too hard as they are very fragile.

Stats for our small mammal beginner experience group:

Space: They need a small cage that has fresh bedding. Their cage can usually fit on top of a dresser or small table. They do not require a lot of space but you definitely want to make sure they are away from any other pets in the house that might want to turn them into a squeaky toy.

Time: These small mammals do not need a whole bunch of your personal time other than feeding, giving fresh water, and cleaning the cage. You will want to give them some species-appropriate toys and/or a wheel that can help them get some exercise during the day or night.

Age: One of the drawbacks of having the beginner experience small mammals is that their lifespans are pretty short with most living only 1-3 years.

Allergies: While allergies to gerbils, hamsters, and mice are not unheard of, they are very uncommon and these pets would be great for children who are allergic to cats or dogs.

Intermediate Experience – You and/or your children have either taken care of a pet previously or are willing to spend more time with these animals as they have more specialized care instructions. This category includes guinea pigs, rabbits, fancy rats, ferrets, and chinchillas.

Possibly magical ferrets?

These small mammals are more social and will need more interaction as well as more specialized care. Each has their own special diet that is a bit outside of just ‘opening the bag and pour’ and can include fresh veggies or fresh hay depending on the species. Their cage requirements are also a bit more complicated – for example, chinchillas need a taller cage with lots of ledges to jump around on. The key to these small mammals is RESEARCH! If you would like to adopt a guinea pig, make sure to read about their nutritional requirements, cage requirements, needs for social interactions, etc…

Let’s check the stats!

Space: While they do not require as much space as a dog or cat, you will need to research to see just how big their cage and/or hutch will need to be. Make sure to see what you need to provide to keep your intermediate small mammal happy and healthy.

Time: Again, these larger fuzzballs will need a bit more of your time as they are more social than your beginner small mammals. Guinea pigs love interacting with you and like to be played with (as long as you are still gentle!).

Age: There is a really wide range of how long each of these small mammals will live with rats living between 4-6 years, rabbits 6-13 years, chinchillas 10-14 years, ferrets 6-8 years, and guinea pigs 5-8 years.

Allergies: Just like the beginner experience small mammals, these small mammals have a low allergen rating however some people have been known to be allergic to rabbit fur. Get tested before buying to make sure your family is safe.

Now you have a much better idea of what sorts of needs each of these categories of animals has! You can sit down and discuss with your family just what sort of pet would fit in to your home.

We hope that you will consider adopting your next pet instead of purchasing from a breeder – there are so many cats, dogs, and small mammals out there that need a second chance at life that your family can give them!

Where can you find these wonderfully adoptable animals? The Houston SPCA of course! Come on down and check out our animals or take a look at our website to find the purrfect furry friend for your family!

On this Friday I will leave you with one of my favorite small mammal videos:

Calling All Girl Scout Troops!

Here at the Houston SPCA we love connecting with our local community.

One way we do that is through our Girl Scout Paw Pals Patch Program – say that 5 times fast!

Part of the Girl Scouts of America’s mission is to develop a scout’s character, which happens to be a major component of humane education. Learning about and seeing an animal can help enhance the character building experience.

Whether you are a Daisy, Brownie, Junior, Cadette or Senior, our patch program can strengthen the connection between scouts and animals. We have a variety of activities for each level of scout to be able to obtain our unique and exclusive patches.

Girl Scouts have the opportunity to tour the shelter and see our animals as part of the patch program. We normally have troops of 5 to 15 people tour the shelter with their troop leader and adult chaperones. Daisies, Juniors, Cadettes, and Seniors can also choose to do a lesson about animal behavior and safety given by our humane education volunteers as part of the Paw Pals Patch Program. We can schedule the program during the week (M-F, 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM) or on the weekend (Saturday 10:00 AM, 12:00 PM or 2:00 PM and Sunday 12:00 PM or 2:00 PM).

Learning about animal behavior is a key aspect of our patch program and after the scouts have earned their patches they will be able to determine how to be safe around animals they do not know and how to enhance their experience at home with the animals they do know.

You might also find a furry friend at the Houston SPCA to help with your scouting adventures!

Brownie Troop Photo

To find more information on our Girl Scout Paw Pals Patch Program you can click here:


Welcome to the Houston SPCA’s Humane Education Blog!

Here you will find the Houston SPCA’s latest and greatest educational endeavors. Be sure to check back often to see updates on all of our educational programs including our Summer Critter Camp, Girl Scout Paw Pals Program, Humane Education School Program, and much more!