SHANGHAI often seems unwelcoming to pets, with many open spaces off-limits to them. But there are places where owners can let their charges run free or go for a coffee accompanied by a four-legged friend. Dong Zhen goes on the trail.
There are around 200,000 registered pet dogs in downtown Shanghai, plus a large number of pet cats, and the numbers are expected to grow.
While most local families dote on their pets, the city as a whole is still far from being pet-friendly, in terms of access to public spaces.
Many local parks and public green areas prohibit dogs - "No Pets Allowed" signs a prominent feature on most public lawns.
And some bars, cafes and restaurants are unhappy for dog owners even to sit outside with their pets.
So while the sight of pet dogs playing happily in parks with their owners, or lazing under a cafe's sidewalk table are common sights in many foreign countries, it could be a long haul to achieve this in Shanghai.
Nevertheless, there are some parks and other leisure areas in Shanghai where traditional barriers are being broken.
Here are some places where dog owners can play ball, throw sticks and have a good time exercising their four-legged friend, or just bring them along when they go for coffee.
Pet Park is operated by a licensed pet company, offering various activities for pets, including 20 games and a pet swimming pool.
The park features 200,000 square meters of greenery land and is located at 1 Maoche Road in Tongjian Village, Yexie Town of the suburban Songjiang District.
The charge per pooch is 100 yuan (US$15.7), though owners are admitted free of charge and the entry fee includes camping and barbecue facilities.
The ticket entitles pets to 20 games and training facilities - such as single-plank bridge, seesaw, sand dune and pet runway - all located on a 2,000-square-meter lawn, constituting the section of the Pet Paradise of the park.
The park also includes a 60,000-square-meter forest where the dogs can run free.
Pet Park's L-shaped swimming pool has two sections, separating large and small pets. According to the company, the pool's filter and disinfection system ensures the water meets national standards.
The pool charge is 50 yuan per pet per day, and can be covered by the entrance ticket.
Kennel care is also available for healthy adult dogs.
How to get there: Take the G60 (Shanghai-Hangzhou) expressway - Yexin Highway - Cheting Road to reach the Maoche Road.
Shanghai Sculpture Park, also called the Moon Lake Sculpture Park, is famous for its beautiful landscape, with Moon Lake - Yuehu - at its center, and its collection of sculptures by Chinese and foreign artists.
The park covers 86.7 hectares in the Sheshan Hill area in Songjiang District. More than 70 sculptures are on display along the banks of the lake in four sections named after the four seasons.
Admission is 30 yuan per pet and 120 yuan per person - the price halved on Tuesdays. There are discounts of 50 yuan for seniors (aged 70 years and above) and for children (up to 1.4 meters). Infants are admitted free.
The park also offers a 240-yuan package that allows entrance for two adults and one child or for two adults with a pet dog. This includes two drinks, two souvenirs and one ride for each person on the park's electric car that tours the park.
Except for the restaurants and games area, pets are free to run and play anywhere in the park.
The Autumn Bank section is said to be the best for dog walking, as it includes a large lawn area.
Visitors can also bring their pets to the family barbecue area inside the Summer Bank section. They can bring their own barbecue goodies. There is a 60-yuan charge per table for four people, and 10 yuan more for every extra person.
If all that outdoor activity is too much, there's also the Yuehu Museum of Art in the park. Since 2007, more than 60 sculptures by artists from around the world have been exhibited there.
The park is closed for renovation this week and will reopen from August 26.
How to get there: Drive down by Yan'an Elevated Road - G50 Expressway - Sheshan Exit - Jiasong Road - Linyinxin Road
There is a free shuttle bus linking the park with the Dongjing Station of Metro Line 9.
The Cool Docks is a good choice for pet owners looking for a pet-friendly public place in downtown Shanghai where they can enjoy a coffee or drink in the sunshine accompanied by their dog.
Located at 505 Zhongshan Road S. on the southern Bund area, The Cool Docks is on the site of an old shipping dock and warehouses. It has grown into a popular leisure area, blending old Shanghai flavor and fine arts, housing Western and upscale Chinese restaurants, cafes, bars, art studios and stores.
Pets are allowed in all outdoor areas, including the open sections of restaurants and cafes. But whether pets are allowed into indoor eateries depends on the policy of individual businesses.