Last week, Geneva had one of those late summer days where no matter how many errands I needed to run and things I needed to do, I just couldn’t stay inside. With summer days numbered, I put off my to-do list and headed to the dog park for an afternoon with my best four-legged friend.
The canton has no shortage of places where dogs are free to run around and play. My go-to guide to Geneva’s dog-friendly areas is the Guide pratique du chien citoyen, the practical dog guide for citizens of Geneva. You can access the Guide pratique du chien citoyen and map online here; paper copies are available from the Espace Ville de Genève during business hours.
The guide includes all of Geneva’s dog-related rules and regulations, plus a complete map marked with all blue zones where dogs can play off-leash; areas where dogs are not permitted are marked in red. For other unmarked park and public areas in the city, dogs must be on-leash. In unmarked forest areas, dogs must remain on leash between 1 April and 15 July.
There are more than sixty so-called “blue zones” in Geneva. Some of these blue zones are fenced off and are considered official dog parks; other blue zones are regular public parks. Dog parks are marked with this sign:
One of the largest fenced-off dog parks in Geneva is located in Parc Bertrand, in the neighborhood of Champel. It has plenty of trees, benches, paths and open spaces. Every time I go, I always see lots of dogs running about and clusters of owners (both English- and French-speaking) chatting.
The dog park at Parc Bertrand
There are smaller dog parks in Geneva, too, but they’re not always indicated on maps. The easiest way I’ve found to locate proper dog parks has been to pick a park on my map and make that area our destination for an afternoon walk. Sometimes I find good spots, and some turn out to be too far away, but somehow my dog never minds discovering a new place!
At any park, if a dog enclosure doesn’t present itself, take a look around. The dog park at Parc Bertrand is a small part of the larger public space, and it takes a little investigation to find. By comparison, the dog park on Rue de Contamines encompasses the entire park area.
A few other things to note about Geneva’s dog parks and public spaces:
- All dogs must be kept on leash in forest areas between 1 April and 15 July to protect wildlife during breeding season. Not having your dog on leash can result in a heavy fine.
- A list of public parks where dogs are not permitted is available here; click on the name of each commune/area to open an interactive map.
- Fenced-off dog parks are somewhat different from the parks I went to back home, most notably because the ones I go to here only have a single gate instead of the double-gate closure system popular in the U.S. The gates don’t always latch well, and without the added safety of a second gate, it’s worth taking an extra moment or two to make sure the gate is shut when you’re heading in or out.
- Owners are required by law to clean up after their dogs. Plastic refuse bags are available from dispensers spaced around the city, or from all local pet supply stores. You can face a fine if you’re caught not cleaning up.
- Areas where dogs aren’t allowed are clearly marked, so be on the lookout for these signs and ones similar:
Whether you have recently relocated to the area, are a new dog owner in town, or are just looking for something new to do with your four-legged friend, take it from my dog – there are no shortage of places to play in Geneva!
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