Best parks for watching puppies play

If you love ogling canines, these green spaces are for you.

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  • Photographs: Caroline Voagen Nelson

Photographs: Caroline Voagen Nelson

Click #4-8 for 3-D images (3-D glasses required).

Top pick

Prospect Park
Despite the fact that there's no proper run, Prospect Park's lax off-leash policy (furballs can roam free in Long Meadow, the Nethermead and the Peninsula from 5 to 9am and again from 9pm to 1am daily) makes it a prime place to catch mutts in their most natural state. "It's the joy of seeing them free and not being [treated as] little humans, but as little dogs," says Tony Chiappelloni, president of FIDO, a group that organizes events like the monthly Coffee Bark (first Saturdays 7--9am, next date Saturday 10), during which owners and their pets congregate beside the Picnic House for free java, tea and Milk-Bones. At Long Meadow, delight as hounds splash around in the six-foot-deep water at Dog Beach and swim in the more-tranquil lake of the Peninsula—this is far more entertaining than watching pooches sniff each other's butts in an enclosed pen. Enter at 9th St and Prospect Park West, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-965-8951, prospectpark.org)

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Carl Schurz Park
Petite pups are the main attraction at this 15-acre expanse, where an elevated enclosure overlooking the East River places them on a pedestal. You'll usually find windblown Yorkies and shih tzus scampering after tennis balls. There's also a separate, sparsely populated run for larger canines to run around on a bed of wood chips. East End Ave at 86th St (212-459-4455, carlschurzparknyc.org)

Hillside Park
Measured at just over two acres, this sloping space is devoted entirely to canines, making it one of the city's largest dog parks. Four tree-shaded circular benches, three wooden picnic tables and an open off-leash policy mean that Hillside is a dog lover's paradise: Camp out for the afternoon to ogle hounds following their wet noses into a flower garden. Columbia Heights at Vine St, Brooklyn Heights (hillsidedogs.org)

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