Best places to bring your dog

Many consider dogs to be an important member of the family, but how friendly is the area surrounding JC to these valued family members? The Patriot takes a look at three locations in a radius of twenty minutes from the school to determine the best places to bond with man’s best friend.


Lauren Becker

Wembley Becker longingly gazes up the hill towards the fenced-in dog park. The Abingdon Road Park officially opened in August 2017 and boasts many features, including a dog park and walking trail.

Abingdon Road Park

Address:  3330 Abingdon Road, Abingdon, MD, 21009

Minutes from JC: 15 minutes

Rules: Dogs must have a Harford County dog-license.

At the top of a capped landfill and behind a water treatment plant stands the Abingdon Dog Park. Although the park has a mile-long walking trail around the base of the hill, the main draw is the massive fenced-in, mulched area that serves as the dog park. This area is divided into two separate sections, split by a gate, that can be opened and closed depending on what dogs are present. One side is meant for smaller dogs and the other for larger dogs. This separation provides a safe environment for all dogs to play, while still providing ample room for both sides.

The mulch prevents the area from getting too muddy from the rain, allowing dogs to romp about without owners worrying about a bath later. The dog park also provides bags to pick up when dogs go to the bathroom, ensuring a cleaner park.

Additionally, there is plenty of parking with two different lots. There is one at the top of the hill closer to the park and one at the bottom near the entrance to the trail. Across from the upper parking lot, there is a pavilion and a large open area with benches lining the perimeter so that dogs can play fetch or train by themselves. This area also provides a beautiful view of the surrounding vicinities, showing the edge of the Susquehanna River in the distance.

However, while there is a canopy and a large number of benches in the open area, this trend does not continue into the fenced-in area. There are two benches in each half of the dog park, making four in total when the gate is open. This is fine when there aren’t many dogs and their owners, but as the number climbs, the benches fill quickly.

The dog park is in desperate need of a pavilion or some source of shade within the fenced-in area. The shining sun quickly raises the temperature making some furrier dogs uncomfortable. The lack of shade renders the dog park completely unusable in the summer.

Ironically, water is not provided in the park even though it is next to the water treatment plant. Additionally, since the dog park is on top of a former landfill, sometimes the fumes escape, yielding an unpleasant smell for a few minutes.

Overall, the Abingdon Road Park earns 4 out of 5 paws, giving dogs and their owners plenty to do.

Activity space: 5 paws

Water Availability: 3 out of 5 paws

Overall Environment: 4 out of 5 paws


Naughty Dogs Restaurant

Address: 2306 E Churchville Rd, Bel Air, MD 21015

Minutes from JC: 7

As an owner of three dogs, I couldn’t help but be excited at the sight of the Naughty Dogs restaurant’s description on “Naughty Dogs has a lot to offer with a huge menu and six pet-friendly tables for your not-so-naughty dog,” the website said. The promise of dining with one of my dogs was too good to ignore. On a rainy Tuesday night that would have left my dog cooped up in the house, I instead ventured to the restaurant.

The restaurant is located off of Churchville Road, adjacent to the Arena Club. The exterior looks like a standard restaurant. Unfortunately, I never got to see the inside. As my very excited pup and I approached the door, our hopes were dashed as the hostess gave us a very strange look before informing me that those “six dog-friendly tables” are not actually in the restaurant, but are instead located outside in the patio seating section, where it was currently 55 degrees and pouring down rain.

Disappointed (and admittedly a little mad), I loaded my now very confused pup back into to the car. I didn’t get the opportunity to actually review the restaurant itself because of the false description. However, I can say that I think the restaurant should address and clarify this issue as soon as possible, especially as winter rolls in and dog owners may be looking for a canine-friendly, indoor space to dine with their dog. My overall impression, based on my experience: Naughty Dogs was disappointing and misleading.

Activity space: 0 paws for false expectations

Water Availability: (Assumedly) 5 out of 5 paws. After all, it is a restaurant.

Overall Environment: Not sure since I never really made it through the door.


Ma and Pa Trail at Annie’s Playground

Address: 864 Smith Ln, Fallston, MD 21047

Minutes from JC: 12 minutes

Hours/Days Open: 6:30 a.m. – 7 p.m., Monday- Sunday

Rules: Dogs must be kept on leashes under 6-feet long at all times

Many people know Annie’s Playground for being a family-friendly destination, but it also has a lot to offer for four-legged friends.

Near the entrance to the playground, the Edgeley Grove portion of the Ma and Pa Trail begins. On the trail, dogs must be kept on a leash that is under six feet long at all times.

At the beginning, the trail is paved, but it soon winds down into a peaceful wooded area. The only problem with this is that the asphalt can get pretty hot on dogs’ paws during the summertime.

As you venture under the canopy of trees with your dog, the path is clearly marked and includes 880 feet of boardwalk as well as dirt sections.This section of the trail is 1.4 miles long and includes varied plant life. You may also encounter some small animals, which can make for a fun exploration for your dog.

This is a popular destination for many dog-walkers and even some runners who want to bring their pets along with them, so most of the time, there will be other friendly dogs for yours to interact with. I saw plenty of them as I was walking around and my dog loved the socialization.

The trail also changes scenery, passing through wooded areas, over hills, and crossing over Winters Run. The overall environment is very calm and laid back, so it’s a great place to take your dog if you’re looking for a relaxing afternoon together.

At the top of the trail there are water fountains that have smaller spouts on the bottom with attached bowls so that your dog can stay hydrated on the trail. Overall, I would give the Ma and Pa Trail at Annie’s Playground four out of five paws for the great environment, keeping in mind that pets aren’t allowed to roam freely and it sometimes gets a little too hot in the summer. I would definitely recommend trying out this trail.

Activity space: 3 out of 5 paws

Water Availability: 5 out of 5 paws

Overall Environment: 5 out of 5 paws


Lauren Becker is the Media Chief for The Patriot and and Emily McLauchlin and Kayla Kozak are Copy Editors for The Patriot and