Dogs(credit: Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images)

After being trapped inside all winter long, what dog wouldn’t love a special afternoon out of the house, to play and run and frolic in a nearby park? If you live in the Fort Collins area, there are several nearby parks that are perfect for your pup to run off-leash. Most have separate areas for the bigger dogs and the smaller or shy dogs, plus they usually offer water features and other amenities to keep your visit as smooth and stress-free as possible. However, always remember to bring plenty of bags to clean up after your pup, and bring along some extra water, just in case the water is not working at the park. Then just head out and enjoy some wonderful quality time with your best friend.

Spring Canyon Dog Park
2626 W. Horsetooth Road
Fort Collins, CO 80526
www.fcgov.com/parks/dog-park.php

Spring Canyon is a popular dog park located near the west end of Horsetooth Road in Fort Collins. It’s about three fenced-in acres so your pooch can run off leash. Bags and trash cans are found throughout the park and there is even a newer area just for small and shy dogs which is a great way to avoid the energy of those big rambunctious pups, if your pooch is not ready for them. You will want to bring a bowl for water, but there is a water fountain provided as well, so you’ll find just about everything you’ll need to enjoy a few hours with your pup at Spring Canyon Dog Park.

Soft Gold Dog Park
520 Hickory St.
Fort Collins, CO 80524
www.doggoes.com

This is one of the smaller dog parks in the area but it’s still a great place for the neighborhood pooches to come run and play. It’s located on Hickory Street just north of Conifer Street, and the entire park runs about one acre. It is fenced in, so you can let your pup run off-leash within the fenced-in area. However, there really are no other big amenities in this park, so bring your own water and food to keep your pooch healthy and happy. And, as always, bring some bags to clean up after him. This little neighborhood park is a hidden gem and it’s a great spot to enjoy some time for anyone that lives in the area.

Related: Top Parks To Walk Your Dog In Denver

Fossil Creek Dog Park
5821 S. Lemay Ave.
Fort Collins, CO 80525
www.fcgov.com

Fossil Creek is a wonderful little dog park located near the entrance to Fossil Creek Community Park. Once you find the dog area, you’ll see a couple small fenced in areas, one for larger dogs and one for the small and shy pups. There is also a drinking fountain for both humans and pets near the entrance, so you can load up on water before you head in for playtime. The one-acre park is still on the small size, but it’s not usually that busy, and has enough shade and open space to be great for any pup to let off some steam and enjoy a few hours of sunshine.

Fairgrounds Dog Park
700 S. Railroad Drive
Loveland, CO 80537
www.cityofloveland.org/index.aspx?page=1983

If you’re willing to drive a little south of Fort Collins, you can enjoy another great dog park located in Loveland. Fairgrounds Dog Park is a little larger, about two acres, with two different sections – one for the more aggressive, larger dogs and one for the smaller and shy pups. There is a lot of shade, several benches to relax on and fresh water for both you and your pooch. Plus, you’ll also find that the ground is made up of a lot of mulch, so you won’t have to deal with too much mud when it rains. It’s not usually very crowded either, which makes Fairgrounds Dog Park very much worth the short trip down from Fort Collins.

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Rough and Ready Park
301 E. 21st Ave.
Longmont, CO 80504
www.ci.longmont.co.us

If you are truly seeking out the best park to bring your pooch, then consider driving a little further south to Longmont, and pay a visit to Rough and Ready Park. This is a great spot for the whole family to enjoy, with lots of great playground equipment and plenty of picnic tables so you can make a whole day of it. There is a fenced in area for your pup to run free, and a little creek that dogs just can’t seem to avoid, so be sure to bring something to wipe the mud off your dog’s paws, just in case he does venture into the water to cool off. There is some shade, but not a ton, so make sure to bring plenty of water for your pup (and yourselves) if you visit this great park in Longmont.

Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.