The irony is that it is right in our own backyard when we are at our sticks and bricks home in Michigan.
Because it is so close and we visit it so often, we never really thought about doing an article and video about it. But then we realized, if we visited the park anywhere else in our travels, we couldn't wait to share it with our community.
So we are.
We think the best dog park in the U.S. is the Orion Oaks Dog Park in Orion Township, MI.
I searched a bunch of other lists of what is supposed to be the best dog parks in the country and all I can say is whoever compiles those lists either don't know what they are talking about, don't actually visit those parks themselves or are paid to list some of them.
Not that the parks on the various lists of what are supposedly the best dog parks are bad. They're not. Many are nice. But very few of them hold a candle to Orion Oaks Dog Park, in size, terrain, amenities, and scenery.
But the sad fact is most dog parks are small. A half-acre. maybe an acre. Maybe two acres.
Orion Oaks Dog Park is 24 acres in size!
That's not the biggest dog park in the country. Two spectacular parks that have more acreage are the Cherry Creek State Park off-leash dog area in Colorado which has 1o7 acres and the Shawnee Mission Off-Leash Dog Area in Kansas, which has 53 acres
But in the Orion Oaks Dog Park's 24 acres are three large dog areas, two small dog areas, wooded paths, open meadows, manicured grass, picnic tables, shaded areas and benches for the people. Plus it has a fabulous dog beach and doggie dock.
Why we (and BO) like Orion Oaks Dog Park
Bo will turn five years old in December and we've been taking him to the Orion Oaks Dog Park since he was four months old. When we are in Michigan, we take him every morning, usually about the same time. Before Bo, we took our previous Elkhoud, Tai.
Bo has grown up with a group of other dogs whose owners take him there, too.
As we watch the dogs or every breed and size run and play and sniff and swim and explore and chase the occasional squirrel that dares to show its tail at a dog park, Bo and his K9 pals remind us of a bunch of kids at recess.
And you never know who you'll meet at the dog park.
Jennifer and I have also gotten to know the doggie parents, too. Real friendships have formed as we walk around the park together, following our dogs. In fact, The Orion Oaks Dog Park is so big that you can get a two-mile walk in if you do all the perimeter fencelines, loops, and paths, providing good exercise for the humans as well as the canines.
Because it is part of the Oakland County Parks service, a permit is required. Cost is $5 a day. County residents can get an annual pass. There is a senior discount, too.
Suggestions for visiting dog parks
Always have your dog's vet and vaccination records with you as you travel
Most parks require dogs to be spayed or neutered
If it's your first time visiting a dog park, let your pet slowing get acclimatized. Keep your dog near you until his natural apprehension eases when he meets a couple of friendly playmates.
Observe what dogs are in the park before you head in. If you see dogs that seem aggressive, head to another area until you can assess the situation. Most dog park owners don't tolerate aggressive dogs but every now and then, one slips in. If in doubt, ask another pet owner.
Don't bring treats to the dog park. Some people do. But more squabbles start over food than anything else. Some parks outright forbid it.
Take water for your dog. Even in cold temperatures. Dogs can get dangerously dehydrated very fast. An hour of play at the dog park should be interrupted by you a couple of times to make sure your dog drinks.
Look for signs about poisonous snakes. If there have been any in the area, the park will have a notice. Same with alligators down in Florida.
Check your dog after visiting a park for ticks. They are everywhere these days. We have a lint roller that we run over Bo that is very effective in removing them. We also always have a tick removal tool with us.
You can tell, we love dog parks.
Over 10 years of RVing, we have visited a lot of them with Tai and now Bo.
Our favorite though is just down the road at the Orion Oaks Dog Park.
We'll be there in the morning.
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