Driving east on Higgins through Dundee, turn left onto Sleepy Hollow Road and be careful not to miss the hidden driveway immediately on your left. It leads to the Schweitzer Woods Dog Park – and boy am I glad to have found it!
Five acres of both a fully mowed and a wooded area ensured that my dog agrees. An hour of mental stimulation and physical excercise at the Kane County Forest Preserve's dog park and he is content to quietly nap away the rest of the day.
The unusual benefit this park offers is that there are not one, but two fully fenced enclosures. The smaller of the two is completely mowed, has two trees, and is usually empty - especially if you go while it is raining. It's a great training ground that lets you practice the recall and other commands before unleashing your pup onto the dog pack in the larger enclosure.
If you just got a puppy or rescued an adult dog, you can also use the smaller enclosure to test Fido's reactions to other dogs before allowing full access into the larger area. Just remember that some dogs exhibit what can seem like aggressive behaviors through a fence, but do completely fine once there is no barrier between them and their potential playmates. As your dog's leader, you must consciously stay relaxed to signal that there is no problem and watch his body language to determine if he is just frustrated at being seperated from the other dogs or if he is actually looking for a fight. Dogs will wrestle, bark and even bite each other lightly all in good fun; but if their bodies stiffen and their hair shoots up as they stare each other down, that means trouble and you should separate them immediately.
Once you have graduated to the larger enclosure, there is plenty of room for doggie play. The wooded area has many mowed pathways, allowing you to wander around with your dog and even play a game of hide and seek.
Be careful, as the high level of use many of the pathways receive has worn away the grass and left them muddy and slippery. If you need a break, there are picnic tables and lawn chairs aplenty. Bring some fresh water for you pup (bowls are available on location), but don't have too much to drink yourself. While there is ample room for your dog to do his business, and bags are usually on hand if pickup is necessary, no people-bathrooms are available in the vicinity - yet.
I encourage you to take your best bud and check out the park (for a preview, watch this You Tube video). There is a special kind of joy that radiates off a dog that gets the chance to run free as fast as his feet will take him, until he becomes a little dot in the distance. And there is a big smile on the owner when the dog turns around and runs back just as quickly.