Leslie's Retreat Dog Park

Routes 114 near Route 107
Salem, MA
Operating Hours:
Managed By:
City of Salem
Days Closed:
$25 annual per dog
Park Size:
Type of Park:
Other Notes: This park has grass, drinking water, and trees. Salem Play Area for Canine Exercise (SPACE) is a community organization that handles dog park applications (proof of spay/neuter, rabies and distemper shots required) and does all of the events, news, and fundraising for this dog park (no tax payer money was used in creation of this park.) Link to the rules. Dog park passes can be purchased at: "The Barking Cat on Essex Street, and at All Creatures Veterinary Hospital across the river from the dog park, and at the Parks and Recreation/Council on Aging at 5 Broad St."
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WA45's picture
Please be careful

My husband and I just moved here from WA. The first time trying out this dog park, my shiba inu and I walked through the fence and a brown and white pit bull grabbed my dog and began thrashing him on the ground. I tried to remain calm and asked the owner to come remove their dog. She slowly walked over and took her dog off mine. We quickly left after that. We tried the dog park several times after and had no issues. My dog plays great with others and never had any other issues. Until one day we came to the park, I always look for this particular brown and white pit bull because I don't want any other issues. I did not see the dog in the park so my shiba inu and I proceeded into the park. Then out of no where the same pit bull came out from the other side of the park and grabbed my dog and was on top of him biting at his neck. My dog began screaming and trying to get away. I was very frightened and didn't feel safe trying to grab my dog out from under her vicious dog. The owner finally came over to grab her dog and began screaming at me, that my 35 lb dog was to small for the big dog section and that this was my fault. This is a great park but please be careful of a woman that brings her brown and white pit bull. This dog doesn't play well with certain dogs and my fear is that this pit bull will take it to far and kill another dog or bite a human. The rules on the park sign clearly state not to bring your aggressive dog to the park. My dog has played well with other pit bulls in the past so I am in no way saying that it was the breed. I think it was the lack of owner responsibility.

applemoon's picture
dog park

I have a little dog that I bring sometimes to the dog park as I am a Salem resident he is not fixed but has all his shots. He loves playing with the big dogs he is the best dog in fact everyone comments on how well he plays with bigger dogs. He does sometimes get mounted but it's not always an aggressive behavior sometimes it's playful. My point is if it becomes too much I do leave as we do not have a pass.I think it's a shame that technically he can't be there because of the not being fixed. I have talked to his vet about fixing him and he says that my dog has such a great attitude that if we fix him now it might change because I found him as an adult dog. I do appreciate that there is a place for dogs to socialize with one another because they are pack animals and love the company of each other.

Stewie4356's picture
Dog park

We love this dog park. My dog is 13 pounds and he eats, sleeps, and breaths this dog park. He has made so many friends and really enjoys going there everyday. My dog is only nine months old so it really helped him socialize w other dogs. He looks forward to going to the park everyday and so do I. I have seen dogs that are way too hyper too be in there w other dogs. They should walk there dogs first before bringing them in. Other than that we love this dog park.

Bobw's picture
Went to check it out

My husband & I visited the park yesterday with our 6month old. No, we do not have a pass. We were there to see if we would like it before we purchase a pass. Wewould hope this is acceptable. On first entering the park our dog was mounted, which we understand happens. We attempted to seperate them but we were nervous because the male looked like a pitbull, so we asked the owner to get her dog. Her response " I'm gettting there". Then she says my dog looks like there is something wrong with her. (she was a little car sick) My dog was scared & shaking. This woman then starts talking how mounting is not about sex,that we need to puy our leash away,my husband is paranoid because he doesnt want our dog drinking out of the pool (a guy said his dog just peed in it). Theres more but I'll spare you the rest. We will check it out 1 more time. It will be a shame if people avoid this park in order to avoid this woman (if you want to call her that).

marksalie's picture
1st time going to the park

Well let me start by saying that I have been a long time dog owner and I have been to many dog parks in this state and in other states. My wife and I are currently on the Danvers dog park committee to grow a dog park here in Danvers where we live.
We have a 7 month old puppy named Brady ,a male lab mix fully registerd, all shots and has been recently neutured. My wife and I went to meet other dog owners and to find out info about where to purchase a pooch pass, talk about rules and to get our puppy acclimated to the park. Knowing that this was Brady's first time there we knew there was going to be a little resistance from other dogs, not all but some and you have to expect that bringing a new dog to the park. Sniffing other males showing dominace (mounting ect),some nipping is quiet normal, as long as things dont get out of control. Its all part of socalizing males and females and different breeds of dogs, and you get to meet different kinds of owners as well. Some follow the rules and some dont and there is good and bad, right and wrong everywhere you go. So all and all Bradys first day went well. No major fights and he got along with 90 percent of the dogs. There was about 15 dogs there at the time and people coming and going. We are going to purchase a pooch pass to help with clean ups and to help support the park and the entrance rules and this eliminates all confusion with other owners determining whether or not your dog belongs there or not and these are the basic rules for all dog parks just to enter the parks. So we will try again and again and again if we have to and hope to and hope to stay longer then just a few mins so our Brady can get the socialization skills he needs. Brady has a great home and family and a nice yard to run in, so we dont bring him there to run around. We bring him there to be with other dogs and to be free and socialize.

Jenny C's picture
don't Bother place is for snack dogs

Owners there have no control over their dogs. All the dogs are either small 15 pound lap dogs with napoleon syndrome. Or miss behaved German shepards. I have two dogs both male, Dutch Shepard and weimeraner. This guy who decided it was no big deal when his 100 pound German Shepard started to mount my dog. I asked him to get his dog off my dog or my dog will fight. Owner stayed seated on the chairs in the corner and alone and behold, a dog fight.
1) dont go I'f your dog doesn't like being mounted
2) you dont like stepping in poo


bittenonce's picture
dog mess

it's just wonder full to go to the park and smell the trash barrels full of dog p.o, it's a wonder full thing to see dogs down at the park with out dog passes. it such a joy to walk through the tall grass trying to make sure you don't step in dog poop. and lets not forget the sewing circle that is were all the know-it-alls sit around telling every one how smarter they are. why don't you clean up the mess I have seen. the "Board Members" are sitting around while there dogs are pooping all over the park and chasing other dogs around. want to talk about bad dogs this place is loaded with them. nobody follows "the rules."

bittenonce's picture

there a lot of dogs at this park with out passes, even when board memebrs are there nobody says a word to owners that don't have a pass , this is un fair to the people that support the park by buying a pass ,nobody seems to care about following any rules for this park , thats to bad, it is a nice place to take your dog and let them run around and play , there is a lot of dog mess in the grass so you have to watch were you walk , seems most people just want to sit around and not spend time with there dogs

SalemSPACE's picture
Information on Leslies Retreat Dog Park Salem MA

I am writing from Salem Play Areas for Canine Exercise (SPACE), the volunteer group that raised the money and did ALL the administrative and physical work to create the park. We can be contacted through www.salemspace.org or the email [email protected] and we would like to hear constructive comments and suggestions, and/or offers of help to improve this park. A few things to know about the park in response to some reviews...

1. This park has never received funding of any kind from the City of Salem. The initial building of the park (over $12,000 in fencing) was funded by SPACE, a 401(c)(3) non-profit organization.
2.SPACE funds were severely depleted by the building of the park and the notice board sign. All other improvements and amenities (paths, benches, water, other signs, etc. are funded by the "pooch pass" program. 100% of that money goes back into the park.
3. We recently added new Board members to help improve the park, as we ran through most of 2010 with a "skeleton crew" of only 4 Board members, and we are only now identifying needs for improvements in the fall of 2010 and spring of 2011. We also just instituted new bylaws which will enable all passholders to VOTE at an annual meeting on the performance of the Board.

We DO plan to add a small dog park, once we have the necessary approvals. We are also interested in improving the surfacing in the park. The State (Mass Highways) created the larger riverfront park years ago over former industrial land including much rocky fill, so between that and dog traffic grass is a challenge.

Last year we added the drainage garden around the storm drain, a seating area, a water line to a stone bowl at the seating area, circular tree benches, an edged path to provide dry footing in wet weather to the seating area, and other improvements with a total "pooch pass" budget of $7,900. This was an estimated $40,000 worth of landscaping, so your pooch pass dollars were matched 4:1 through donations of material from local businesses and volunteer labor. We hope to continue this level of performance, but please be patient! We are all volunteers and we have to keep our day jobs!

I am aware of the behavior issues at the park, as well as some of the physical limitations. I hope as we continue to improve the appearance of the park people will feel better about buying the pooch passes. The deal with the City was that this park had to be self-supporting. With volunteer labor and pooch pass money we can do a lot, but it will take time. If you have skills to offer such as construction, landscape design, free time to help with clean-up days, planting, willing to assist with handing out education materials, etc. Please do email us at [email protected]. Thanks!! Bart Hoskins SPACE

sparkcitysky's picture
It's A Shame..

I used to frequent this park with my pup, but the conditions have deteriorated so much I don't feel comfortable bringing him there anymore. No one follows the pooch pass rules which prohibits unaltered dogs from entering the park. I've had to break up several fights simply because people are bringing in their unneutered males who are causing trouble. The poop situation is out of control and has resulted in 3 trips to the vet because my dog has gotten pink eye from being there. Even when people do clean their dogs waste and throw it in the trash can - the cans don't get emptied for weeks! The smell is just overwhelming. I don't think I will ever go back to this park (even after frequenting it for over a year). The people who "run" the park are rude, the place stinks, and it's not a good environment for any dog to socialize in.

tasha's picture
pass fee usage

this park is Not supported by the city. the money collected has gone to improvements such as the plantings, pavers, Benches, etc...
and they have plans to section off a area for smaller dogs and more landscaping I Hear

EjmBoston's picture
Pooch Pass

I visited this place this weekend, looked ok, lots of dogs running around having fun, I didn't go in cause I did not have a pass yet. My question is; what does the $25 go towards each yr? the park itself seemed to lack grass and the dog waste bag holders were all empty, is there a link towards what the money goes to ?

tasha's picture
sound like a rule review might be useful

City of Salem Park, Recreation and Community Services
Leslie†s Retreat Dog Park
Dog Park Rules and Regulations:
1. Dogs entering the park must be at least 6 months of age
2. Dogs must be accompanied by a guardian at least 18 years of age
3. Individuals between the ages of 10 and 17 years must be
accompanied by an adult, age 18 years and older
4. Dogs must display a municipal license and current vaccination tag
5. Dogs must be leash free once within the large fenced area
6. Guardians must have voice control over their dogs at all times
7. Guardians must immediately clean and properly dispose of waste
8. Guardians must keep their hands free to ensure supervision and
9. All dogs must be either spayed or neutered
10. All dogs entering the park must display a dog tag issued annually by the director of the Park, Recreation and Community Services or his/her designee. Applicants for a dog park tag shall sign a waiver of liability and an agreement to abide by park rules, and will present proof of current spay/neuter, vaccination status, and a municipal dog license for the dog prior to the issuance of a dog park tag. The Director of Park, Recreation and Community Services, in concert with the City of Salem Animal Control Officer, shall determine the number of dog park tags to be issued each year
11. Owners are responsible and liable for the actions of their dogs;
Section II Chapter 26-10 Prohibitions of Chapter 26, Article IV. Dog
Park Use Regulations:
1. Guardians may not supervise more than three (3) dogs at one time
2. Dogs deemed dangerous pursuant to City Ordinance Chapter 8, 8-
66 are prohibited
3. Cigarette smoking within the enclosed park is prohibited
4. Dogs displaying aggressive behavior may be immediately removed
from the park by the Animal Control Officer or his/her designee;
5. Children†toys and sporting equipment are prohibited within the fenced area of the park
6. Due to health and safety concerns, children under the age of 10 are prohibited from within the fenced area of the park. Section III Chapter 26-103 Penalties of Chapter 26, Article IV Dog Park Use Regulations
1. Whoever violates any provision of this Article shall be subjected to a fine of $25.00 for the first offense and $50.00 for any subsequent offense
2. The Animal Control Officer may revoke any existing Dog Park Pass and/or prohibit future participation in the Pass program for those who violate any provisions of this Article.
Section IV Chapter 26 -104 of Chapter 26, Article IV Dog Park Tag
1. Dog Park tags will be issued at an annual fee of $25 per dog;
2. All fees received by the Park, Recreation and Community Services Department shall be deposited into a special account entitled â€Å"Dog Park Receipts Reserved for Appropriation.† Said receipts shall be appropriated solely for the administration, care, and maintenance of the Dog Park. Said receipts may be expended by the Director of the Park, Recreation and Community Services, upon approval of the mayor and following a vote of the City Council. Section V. Chapter 26-105, Article IV Enforcement and Appeal:
1. The Animal Control Officer and the Salem Police Department shall have the authority to enforce this Article. Notice of an
enforcement shall be delivered to the Director of Park, Recreation and Community Services;
2. Any person aggrieved by the decision of the Animal Control Officer may appeal to the Chief of Police or his designee.
1. This Ordinance shall take effect as provided by the City Charter

tasha's picture
salem park

Correct me if i am wrong. I do agree the park needs some work but after reading your post It sounds like you might not be a authorized user of this park. Do you have a "pooch Pass"? Because if you do you would know that this is a privately run park that receives NO support from the city as far as construction, upgrades, maintenance, etc but if you were a paid member you would already know this. No one is in authority there except a possible visit from the Animal Control Officer or the local police. Second did you read the rules that state "no Leashes allowed inside the park"?

tasha's picture
great park but some OWNER's need work

I am a fairly new member of this park. It is a great idea and I applaud the founders for setting it up.

The problem i witness at every visit at least one or two times is owners not following the rules of the park.
One example they have a handycap entrance thru the fence and I see people that are clearly not disabled using it just because it is closer than the main entrance that is a double gate system for the safety of the animals.

Also there are a few dogs that are a bit too agressive and the owners do not seem to care and just ignore the behavior. This causes other owners too have to react.

in general the park needs to have some enforcement of the rules also which will increase there working income because the majority of the dogs i see do not have the current "pooch Pas" which shows your dog is up to date on shots, Spayed/Neutered, & fee paid

Don't get me wrong if you are a proactive responsable owner it is a good place that can become great and is the only fenced in park on the Northshore and is greatly needed thing

Visitor's picture
Potential New Residents In Salem

We are planning to relocate from New York City to Salem sometime in 2011. We have two Alaskan Malamutes and, around the time of our move, the 115lb male will be 5-1/2; the 75lb female will be 2-1/2. Both dogs are nationally-registered and certified Service and Therapy Dogs as we volunteer with Autistic Children and Senior Alzheimer's patients, so both are extremely well-trained and friendly. Initially, we were pleased to discover Leslie's Retreat Dog Park until we read a number of the postings. It appears that a problem exists which we've unfortunately encountered in our local dog park in NYC; some dog owners using the dog park that seem to be more interested in socializing instead of monitoring the behavior of their dogs. The availability of a place for dogs to exercise and socialize is paramount to their growth and behavior and if they are left on their own, it generally results in domineering and aggressive behavior. When we move to Salem, perhaps we can set up playtimes with other dog owners who are equally concerned with their pet's behavior and socialization which is what we have done in a neighboring dog park here in NYC. For anyone who is interested, contact us at: [email protected]

Visitor's picture
Re: Need a lot of work

I have to agree with this person. I had the same thing happen, was not only a little afraid for my dog but myself. The dogs are so aggressive when you enter and no one seems to care or do anything about it. I usually take my dog to different wooded areas and golf courses in the winter so I can get some exercise as well. I am sure it is a great place for those that do all the time, but it is intimidating for someone new when you first try and enter. I decided to go elsewhere. I will try again as well when it is less busy. I did speak to a woman who presented herself as like the mayor of the park, she was not pleasant to say the least when I asked if anyone could get there dog under control so I could enter. Should have gotten her name. If she is actually an authority there, the town should be looking for a better person.

Visitor's picture
Dog Park behavior issues

I think it is wonderful to have a place for our four legged, furry friends to go and play and socialize. However, on more then one occassion I have seen many pet owners or care givers, paying more attention to their own socializing or phones then pets. It does cause issues and concerns to some who bring their dog and try to maintain a well balanced, behaved dog. Also, you don't want to be the one to break up a dispute between your dog and another or discipline someone elses dog. If we walk our dogs first, then bring to play while we watch them, like kids on a playground, I truly believe everyone benefits from it.
We need dog parks, off leash for our dogs to grow, develop and behave. Dogs are pack animals and these are too few and far between. If it means we pitch in to maintain the park, clean and assist each other. It will be an awe-inspiring moment for us all. Glad we all agree fresh air, friends and our dogs are the best part of the day.

Visitor's picture
Great Place

It's so great to see someone still was able to dedicate resources to build and maintain this dog park. Great place to visit! As to the person that posted poor rating of this park: I am not paying my park fees to see you working there with rescue dogs. Although we all highly value your intentions, I do not wish to have my dog part of your training experiment. You're writing like your dog was exposed to danger, while I think you are creating more danger by trying to train your dog in the park.

Visitor's picture
Park is a good idea, needs a lot of work.

I am a dog trainer working with resue dogs to help them socialize in a pack. Upon arriving at the park several aggressice growling dogs greeted us at the entrance. Not one of the owners came over to either correct the dogs behavior or aknowledge that there pet was creationg a lot of tension and anxiety for new dogs arriving. I was warned about this by others but wanted to work with this particular dog in a pack enviroment. I have been to several places like this with this and other dogs, but was hesitant to take him off leash in this enviroment until the animal was is a calm state of mind, after a few minuted I elected to remove the dog becuase this was difficult to achieve with the behavior exhibited by the other dogs, many of which were pit bull, pit mixes and boxers. All alpha breeds, however there were alot of very nice dogs there as well, I had a pitt bull mix with me.

I walked the dog around and let him sniff and greet several dogs. As this was happening I witnesssed many dogs exhibiting poor behavior, either mounting a submissive, growling and a few attacks that ended quickly when the owner sent a strong verbal command (nice to see). Others paid little attention to their dogs while others were quick to correct bad behavior.

I do not think I will retun unless it it less busy. There were probably twenty dogs in the park at that time. I contacted the dog officer in Salem several months ago to ask what he thought of the park and if he has been called there for many issues. He made no bones about saying "I would NEVER bring my dog there" I do not agree completely with him but feel if the park is better monitored and owvners are more responsible it could be a great space. I was a bit put off when I noticed a few dogs had personal toys from home in the park. This is a very bad idea, it creates posession issues and tension. Many that go to this park may live in apartments and see this as there as a yard where they bring items from home for there pet. There was poop everywhere that had not been picked up, they would just side step it. In the warm weather this will be a breeding ground for bacteria and disease, especially with so little grass in the park.

Hope to see some improvements going forward.

Visitor's picture
great park!

I started bringing my puppy to the park when she was 10 weeks old and we go everyday now! She has so much doggy friends here and it's a great way to exercise. As for me, I've gotten to know some of the other dog owners very well :-)

Visitor's picture
What a great place!

As the owner of a young goldendoodle, I don't know what we would do without Leslie's Retreat Dog Park. Sully loves it and he has really developed some good social skills. Thank you!!!