Dogs in the Preserves
Permit Required for Off-Leash Areas
Love 'Em and Leash 'Em
Dogs are welcome at most preserves as long as they’re on leashes under 10 feet long. You need to remain with your dog, though (no tying leashes to trees, buildings, or equipment), and keep it quiet at all times, especially in picnic and camping areas.
Leashes keep dogs on the trails and away from harmful plants and unseen hazards. They lessen the chance dogs will startle hikers, bikers, or horseback riders or bite other pets or people (no matter how unlikely that may seem). They also ensure dogs can’t disturb nesting or resting wildlife.
Enjoy off-leash fun at our seven designated areas! Each off-leash area is open one hour after sunrise until one hour after sunset except as noted below.
You need an annual (valid January – December only) or daily permit for each dog you bring but can buy one online 24/7. (Scroll down for options.) You can also get permits through Visitor Services at 630-933-7248 or at our headquarters office at 3S580 Naperville Road in Wheaton Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. To apply by mail or fax, download our application (PDF).
People 65 or older, active U.S. military personnel, and honorably discharged U.S. veterans are entitled to one free annual permit per household per calendar year. If this is the first time you’re requesting a free permit, you need to provide proof of your age (driver's license or birth certificate) or military-service status (active status or a DD-214 Member 4 form).
Rules & Regulations
- Carry your dog’s permit with you when using an off-leash area, and present it to a Forest Preserve District agent for inspection if requested.
- Keep your dog up to date on distemper, parvo and rabies vaccinations and make sure it’s wearing its rabies tag on its collar.
- Keep your dog in view and under control at all times and keep a watchful eye on children.
- Do not let your dog approach uniformed staff. Leash your dog if necessary.
- Close the gate as you enter and exit the off-leash area, and leash your dog when you’re outside the area.
- Carry a leash and leash and remove your dog at the first sign of aggression. You are responsible for the behavior of your dog and for any injuries or damages it causes to people or other dogs.
- Never bring your dog if it’s sick or in heat.
- Do not allow your dog to dig holes.
- Off-leash dog areas may be closed periodically for maintenance. Follow our Facebook page or sign up for text alerts to get notices about such closures.
- Properly pick up and dispose of all dog waste. Failure to do so could result in fines up to $120.
- Keep out of ponds or other waters; they are for dogs only.
- Do not bring a toy that’s smaller than a tennis ball. If you bring any toys or treats, do not give them to other dogs, and make sure to take them with you when you leave.
- Never use animals — dead or alive — for any purpose.
- Never use ammunition or devices that use explosive forces to propel retrievable objects. There is one exception to this rule. At the off-leash area at East Branch Forest Preserve, you may — for dog-training purposes only and with extreme caution — use blank ammunition or devices that use explosive forces to propel retrievable objects.