Taking your four-legged friend out to socialize with his furry playmates is the perfect way to let your dog blow off steam. Dogs need exercise and stimulation; without it, you’ll end up with an unhappy pooch and, maybe, some chewed-up shoes. Here are five dog parks around the city that let your dog run and play while you read a book or chat with other dog lovers.

(credit: cityofmaplewood.com)

Maplewood Dog Park
West Point Drive at Rannells
Maplewood, MO 63143

Residents of Maplewood can join the city’s dog park for $20 a year ($5 for additional dogs). You can join online at the city’s website or in person at City Hall. You’ll need proof of rabies vaccines and a photo for each dog. The park has an area for all dogs and an area just for small dogs. Lots of water bowls and toys, including frisbees and tennis balls, are available. One of the park’s most popular features is a wading pool, so bring a towel if your dog likes to splash.

(credit: sxc.hu)

Dutch Town Dog Park
Liberty St. and Virginia Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63111

Dutch Town is a free dog park, which is a rarity in the Lou. It’s also one of the few that doesn’t restrict children, so it may not be the best place for larger breeds. A kiddie pool is available for dogs who love water, so you may want to bring a towel. The park is located by the Dutchtown community garden.

(credit: cshawstlouis.org/dogpark)

Shaw Dog Park
4101 Cleveland Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63110
(314) 771-3101

The Shaw neighborhood has offered a sweet little dog park since 2003. The Shaw Dog Park has evening lighting, water on site and locking gates. Membership for Shaw residents is $25 for the first dog and $5 for each additional dog. A non-resident membership is available at $50 for one dog and $10 per additional furry friend.

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(credit: frenchtowndogpark.com)

Frenchtown Dog Park
1001 Emmet St.
St. Louis, MO 63104

This 3/4-acre park was set aside in 2004 for residents of the Benton Park, Lafayette Square, LaSalle Park and Soulard neighborhoods. The park has separate areas for leashed and unleashed dogs. Frenchtown is managed by the Frenchtown Dog Park Association and sometimes offers adoption, training and social events for dog lovers. Becoming a member of one of the city’s most socially active parks involves a suggested annual donation of $60 for one dog and $20 for each additional dog.

(credit: swcitydogpark.org)

Southwest City Dog Park
Willmore Park
Hampton and Jamieson Ave.
Saint Louis, MO 63109

Residents of the South Side can enjoy this busy, bustling 1.5-acre park. The main play area has toys, water stations, wading pools in summer and a small agility course. A second play area is offered for dogs who are very small, shy, recovering from surgery or otherwise need a quieter atmosphere. Membership for city residents is priced at $42 for the first dog and $10 for each additional dog. Southampton Neighborhood Association members get a $10 discount off the first dog, while non-city residents pay $10 extra.

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Lauren Haas is a writer who specializes in finding the fun! Lauren was the publisher of the St. Louis Area Family Gazette for eight years, and now writes freelance articles on St. Louis events and attractions, budget travel, arts and entertainment and fitness topics. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.