A Guide to Dog-Friendly Mercer Island

March 31, 2023 | by Naomi Tomky

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Dogs love living on Mercer Island nearly as much as their humans do. The same open green spaces and sizable yards that appeal to people look like an excellent Frisbee field to Fido. Plus, they love that Mercer Island’s paths and parks mostly welcome pooches, and local businesses keep the canine kiddos healthy and stocked up on kibble with pet shops, veterinarians, and dog spas.

Find the best places to throw a ball for your boxer or go for a stroll with your spaniel on this list of off-leash dog areas, pup-friendly fields, and other places to get whatever you need to take care of your good boy (or girl). Don’t forget to do a quick review of Mercer Island’s rules regarding where and how furry friends can roam to make sure that no barks result in bites from the law.

Leash Laws on Mercer Island

Mercer Island has one fenced off-leash dog area at Luther Burbank Park, along with a second specifically designated off-leash dog area at Wildwood Park. The City also permits dogs under voice and signal control to be off-leash in a lot of additional areas.

Just a few parts of the island’s public outdoor spaces do not permit dogs in any capacity: public swimming beaches in summer (May 1 – September 30), schools, playgrounds, and sports courts or synthetic fields. Public swimming areas include Luther Burbank Park, Groveland Beach, Clarke Beach, and Calkins Landing.

Dogs must be leashed at public swimming beaches outside of summer (October 1 – April 30), as well as anywhere at Luther Burbank Park outside the designated off-leash area, at Deane Children’s Park, and in the northeast quadrant of Pioneer Park.

Dogs are permitted at all other public parks, as long as they are either leashed or under voice and signal control. Voice and signal control means that the dog is always in sight range, returns immediately when commanded, and does not charge, chase, jump on, or display aggression toward people or animals.

Whether in a designated off-leash area or taking a tethered trot, make sure you and your pooch both practice proper etiquette, including (but not limited to):

  • Carrying bags to scoop your dog’s poop and disposing of the waste properly
  • Leashing your dog when necessary, including if it chases wildlife or approaches other park users without invitation
  • Stay on the trails as much as possible
  • Use designated off-leash or non-forested areas for fetch

Off Leash Areas

Luther Burbank Park

Mercer Island’s only fenced off-leash dog area covers more than an acre of the park’s north end, providing a wide variety of landscapes and amenities for dogs of various sizes. A cordoned-off area on the south end of the dog area is restricted to small pups, giving them a chance to play safely. The main area is larger and opens into a swimming beach to allow for canine cool-downs in summer. The exit from the main area has a dog-washing area, which is helpful, since the park is mostly a dusty, sandy surface, and for after a dip in lake water. Outside the off-leash dog area, dogs must be kept on leashes.

King County map – download a full-resolution PDF here.

Wildwood Park

While the large, open lawn space on the south end of Wildwood doesn’t have the helpful fence of Luther Burbank, it is the island’s only other specifically designated off-leash dog area. Though it is much smaller, it is also much less crowded, and the grassy expanse is well-kept, which keeps dogs cleaner and makes it an ideal place for a quick sprint to get the zoomies out or to toss a tennis ball.

Recommended Voice and Signal Control Areas

The voice and signal control rules open up large amounts of Mercer Island’s parklands to well-behaved dogs to roam off-leash, but there are a few places where dogs tend to be particularly welcome. Pioneer Park’s northeast quadrant requires dogs to be on-leash, but the northwest quadrant does not, and is a favorite de facto off-leash park for local dogs, especially the Perimeter Trail and various offshoots. Dogs can also hit the trails at Mercerdale and Island Crest Park, or find some open space at Aubrey Davis Park and Homestead Field, as long as the sports fields are not in use.


Taking good care of your dog’s health is easy here, with three different animal hospitals on Mercer Island, and a dog dentist.

  • Mercer Island Veterinary Clinic covers all types of canine health, starting from puppy appointments, and including annual check-ups, surgeries, behavioral issues, dentistry, and tons more. 2448 76th Ave SE Suite 102
  • MercyVet is a full-service holistic animal hospital, with a wide range of services that includes anesthetic-free dentistry and nutritional therapy. 2630 77th Ave. SE #116
  • Island Animal Hospital is part of the Cara Family group of vets around the Pacific Northwest, with both primary and urgent care programs, as well as an in-house lab. 7803 SE 27th St #174
  • Seattle Veterinary Dentistry is devoted to high-quality animal dentistry, with dedicated anesthesiologists for each patient. 2448 76th Ave SE #102

Pet Shops

Two local mini chains, both with family ownership still involved, cater to Mercer Island’s pet owners.

  • All the Best Pet Care focuses on natural options, with sustainability as a major focus. 3037 78th Ave SE
  • Mud Bay stocks a huge selection of and the excellent staff comes, in part, from its employee ownership program. 2441 76th Ave SE Suite 100

Dog Groomers

Get your pup spruced up right nearby at the two dog spas that cater to islanders:

  • Puppy Bubbles Dog Grooming in Mercer Island Town Center remodeled in 2022 to update the facilities they use for their full dog bathing and grooming services. 2448 76th Ave SE #108
  • OmDoggies Gentle Mobile Grooming, opened in 2020 by long-time Mercer Island resident Tracy Harris, brings the dog bath to you in her mobile grooming salon. The van is equipped with a jetted hydro-massage bath, and she offers both basic and deluxe options.

Restaurants and Patios

When your dog is your best friend, you want to take them out for a nice meal or catch up at happy hour, and thankfully Mercer Island’s restaurants often welcome pups on their patios. While dogs are not allowed to enter food establishments (unless they are service dogs), the following spots have confirmed to us they welcome wagging tails to their outdoor space.

Know of anywhere else that deserves a mention for its dog-friendliness? Shoot us a note: [email protected].