When Should Your Dog Go With You? When Should Your Dog Stay Home?

I love taking my dogs places. I love it so much, I’ve even changed what I do with my free time.

In college, I was a serious film buff. I’d sneak into my (now) husband’s film theory class at 8:00 a.m. to see Eisentstein’s Battleship Potemkin and watched many of the art films showing in town. But you can’t take a dog to the movies so I’ve only seen one this year.

Dog getting treats on a boat

Although she was on a boat in the beautiful St. Lawrence Seaway, Shadow’s favorite part of the trip was the treats.

And art museums? I used to spend hours in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. But now, most of the art I see is the graffiti appearing on the back of a building flanking my favorite dog walking trail by the creek.

Much of my recreational time is spent doing dog-friendly activities: hiking, boating, visiting outdoor markets (although I hate recreational shopping), slogging through the snow. So with warm weather coming, I’m once again considering when Honey should go with me and when Honey should stay home. Here’s what I ask myself:

Is it safe?

We have a wonderful, and very popular farmer’s market a short walk from my house. And I shudder when I see people bringing small dogs to it. Besides prominent signs stating that dogs aren’t allowed in the farmer’s market building (see question #3), it is so unsafe. I can’t enjoy the market without thinking of some distracted shopper crushing and seriously injuring that small dog.

Will my dog enjoy it?

Both Agatha and Shadow found being around strange dogs very stressful. I would never have taken them to a dog show or agility competition like I have for Honey.

Of course, I might have hovered on the outskirts with a clicker and treats to improve their tolerance but that’s not quite recreation, is it?

Is it legal?

Yes, I get irritated when I’m not allowed to bring my dog somewhere that makes no sense. Our city park right on the lake is a perfect example.

But sometimes banning dogs from places makes a lot of sense. Some of our favorite beaches in Cape May, New Jersey no longer allow dogs. We were very disappointed until we found out it was because people were not preventing their dogs from harassing the nesting birds. Cape May is a major flyway for birds who stop there to feast on horseshoe crabs and hatch their young. And finding a new beach to play on is a small price for protecting so many other species.

Golden Retriever and Man walking in the snow

I saw a sign with a dog in a circle with a line through it at the beginning of this trail. Am I going to jail?

Of course, I’m not always a strict legalist. I try to interpret the intent of a rule. So when we hiked out to the lake one snowy day, I noted two things: First, the dog profile in the sign with the line through it was obviously a German Shepherd. Since Honey’s a Golden Retriever, they obviously didn’t mean to keep us out. Second, the trail ran along a public golf course and marina. Since no one was using those facilities in the dead of winter, I doubted it was a problem. And the smile and wave from the park ranger who passed us indicated I probably guessed right.

Can we bring our dog without upsetting people who are afraid of, allergic to, or just hate dogs?

A few years back we asked a boat captain if we could bring Agatha on his bird watching boat trip through the salt flats of Cape May. He said it was fine with him as long as none of the other passengers minded.

We showed up early to talk to the other customers and with a plan that Agatha and I would go home if anyone raised any objections. She was quiet and calm and no one had any problems with her being on the boat so we got to stay. If you can’t accept that other people may not want to share space with your dog, you’re probably better off going to more conventional, dog-friendly places like parks and campsites.

Some of my favorite places to take a dog:

Parades, outdoor festivals, picnics, outdoor concerts, parks, beaches, flea markets, hiking trails, boats, marinas (just to sit and watch the boats), excursion trains, agility competitions, dog shows, outdoor films, car rides, ice cream stands, chariot races, baseball games, dragon boat races, restaurants with outside seating, Porchfest, the lake….

What have I missed? And what else do you ask yourself when you’re thinking of taking your dog somewhere?

This is a blog hop. Hop on…

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  1. Even in dog-friendly Portland, I find lots of places that aren’t. And generally there’s a reason, but sometimes you wonder “why?”. I’m also a “rule-follower” and don’t take them places they aren’t allowed. I find that Sage is much better without Toby and visa versa.

    • It’s always helpful to know why dogs are prohibited. It’s easy to see at our local Farmer’s Market because it’s an utter mob scene. But I can’t figure out why they haven’t also banned strollers.

      Interesting that Toby and Sage do better on their own. Sounds like it’s easier to stay home. 🙂

  2. Talking about “human areas”, I would love to be able to take our dogs to national parks, cafes, beaches and fleamarkets. We used to take Georgia and Rufus [and Jordan] to our favourite Saturday organic market but last year, they put up a NO DOGS ALLOWED sign. We were very disappointed. Their reasoning was that there was food prep around. I think that’s just ridiculous. I’ve seen less hygienic looking children wandering around the market who are more likely to poke a finger in the pies on display than a dog.

    We’re fairly dog-unfriendly here. Our other big local Saturday market banned dogs a few years ago [because it’s church grounds]. Dogs aren’t allowed on public transport, in national parks [even on leash] and on most beaches. I recently put a link on one of my posts about how they were talking about opening up a few more beaches to dogs here in Sydney. [Fenced up small part of beach.] I’ve since read some vitriolic letters of complaint about that little plan. There’s a move to ban dogs from cafes too. [They’re only allowed in the outdoor seating areas.]

    Of course I don’t think dogs should be allowed everywhere. But some no-go zones are just plain stupid. A bit more commonsense and willingness to share space would be great.

    p.s. I shall check if that dog sign outside the market has a german shepherd on it. I might have misunderstood the whole thing 🙂

    • I assumed Sydney was very dog friendly after I heard about Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed hosting a concert for dogs outside the opera house a couple years ago. Are you telling me that was just some crazy Americans bringing their own ideas to a place? 🙂

      Dog people in my town got land put aside in a state park for an off-leash dog area after arguing that the state parks served all kinds of special populations. There are marinas for boaters (which many people don’t/can’t use) golf courses, horseback riding areas, etc. So if land is put aside for those uses, why not dogs?

      • Oh no, Sydney is not dog friendly. In fact, if I compare where dogs are allowed to go, to many places in Europe and the UK for example, we’re shockingly dog UNfriendly as a country. Especially for big dogs. Little dogs get away with being carried/smuggled into some no go areas like public transport, and there are many more choices for them in “pet-friendly” accomodation. Sad really. That concert was a one-off. I vaguely remember reading about it.

        It’s true about putting land aside for dogs. Many of us who have dogs in lieu of children and pay our taxes, wonder why some of it can’t be spent on providing better amenities for OUR “children”! In my neighborhood, we’ve been talking to council about putting up 2 gates in just one small area of a park and some lamplights so dogs can play in the winter dark safely and not run out onto the road and get killed. 2 years later, we’ve still to see anything being done. Meanwhile, every single neighbourhood park has had refurbished kiddie playgrounds with brand new play sets and fences. It’s hard not to get annoyed.

        • I can certainly understand your frustration.

          When I’ve read about groups successful at getting amenities for dogs I’m struck by two things: it took a long time and the organizers figured out how to sell the dog amenities as a benefit to the town.

          Don’t give up hope.

  3. This is a great topic that deserves more discussion indeed. I find the opportunities vary widely from place to place. And weather is a huge issue for us in Florida. Cars overheat so quickly, even if you’re just running into a Starbucks for your latte. Must be careful!

    Next weekend while I’m playing on this hop, I’ll also be hosting one at my blog. I’d love to have you join in to help homeless bunny friends find furever homes. Check it out http://www.allthingsdogblog.com/2011/04/easter-rabbit-adoptathon-blog-hop.html

    • Yeah, our rule for running errands in the car is that if it’s spring or summer, one of us stays with the dog outside the car while the other one runs the errand. It’s just too risky, otherwise.

      Good luck on your hop, hop next week.

  4. I normally try to bring my dogs along with me places. I’m lucky in that our Farmer’s Market allows well behaved dogs, and is outdoors along the riverfront, so we will go down there some days. But, so long as the weather is not hot or too sunny, my dogs are also just fine waiting in the car if they cannot come inside, and I always make up for the waiting with a trip to the park.

    Hopping by from the Blog Hop.

    • Our Farmer’s Market used to allow dogs. But now it’s so popular it causes traffic back ups and has people directing in the parking lot. Imagine the scene at a mall the day after Thanksgiving and you’ve got the picture of our Farmer’s Market.

      The stop by the park after running errands sounds like a great compromise. I’m sure your dogs love it.

      BTW, can’t wait to read about lure coursing on your site.

  5. I think you’re right about the questions you ask, and we visit a lot of the same kinds of places that you do with our dogs. We also have a local town square that has old-fashioned music on Friday nights that we drop in to once in a while. There are some Greyhound gatherings that happen in different places around the country that we try to visit when we can, too. It’s nice to go to those because there are usually activities that are all planned and we don’t have to worry about whether or not our dogs are invited for the weekend. We do nursing home visits, too, which can be a nice time out with your dog.

    Questions that I usually ask are whether it’s safe for my dog to go. Greyhounds are very susceptible to extremes of heat and cold, so if it’s going to be too hot or cold, they’re not going, or we’re going early in the morning or late at night. I also ask myself whether I can get them out of there if there’s a problem, either with another person, dog or if there were some sort of health emergency.

    Before I forget, you asked about the pictures from Wordless Wednesday. We talked about it briefly on April 1 on the blog, but it’s the Baha’i House of Worship. It is one of the Seven Wonders of Illinois, located in Wilmette. It was built as a nondenominational temple by the Baha’i Faith and is one of seven temples they’ve built around the world. Each of the temples is very unique and beautiful, and many symbolic features from all major religions are built into each one. It was truly the most beautiful, peaceful building that I’ve ever seen!

    • That’s an interesting question to add to my list: what would we do in an emergency. When I go somewhere long distance, I look up the local vet hospitals. But I don’t usually do that for a day trip. Good idea.

      I think the Baha’i temple looks like a wedding cake. Our local Baha’i temple meets in a classroom at our local university–a big difference.

  6. I agree with you completely! We take the boys as much as possible with us, and even though we have been kicked out of a few places, we keep trying. We think it through first – is it the right thing to do to take them with? If it isn’t, or we can’t take them, we very often don’t go.


    • One of my suspicions is that the more places dogs are allowed the more well-behaved dogs we’ll see. I think it’s interesting that you’re willing to run the risk of being kicked out. I’m a little more timid about that.

      BTW, happy blogiversary. Loved seeing Monty’s dance moves. His butt is much cuter than John Travolta’s.

  7. We’re so lucky that Vancouver is pretty darn dog friendly, especially to smaller dogs. I can take the pups almost anywhere with me, even on city transit like our Skytrain, ferries & buses. It means that there are few places the pups can’t go. Inside restaurants is still a no-no, though many patios are dog friendly. It’s disappointing how few beaches are dog friendly here, though we have been lucky to discover a couple that we enjoy immensely. I try not to take them anywhere that THEY won’t really enjoy. Nothing more annoying for me or the people around me than unhappy pups. And like you said, respect for the other people is important. Owners who don’t respect the non-dog people are what ruin it for the rest of us!

    • I didn’t know that Vancouver allowed dogs on public transit. That’s terrific. Not being able to take dogs in taxis or trains is such a problem when you live in the city.

      I’ve always been able to take dogs on ferries. And I’m very thankful. Now if Amtrak would only get on the dog-friendly wagon.

      The weather in Vancouver is probably a big plus for dogs. I hear it doesn’t get too hot or too cold.

  8. In Sweden they have the first dog-friendly cinema in the world. You never know. Maybe it would catch on and get imported so you can enjoy your movies again.

    • I’d certainly give it a try. But I can’t imagine Honey enjoying the talky, character driven movies that I like so much. I can just imagine the look on her face when we go in to see My Life as a Dog just to realize it was about a little boy instead of a dog. 🙂

      Every summer I think about trying to host an outdoor movie night for dog people. Maybe I should just bite the bullet and do it.

  9. Wow, what an impressive number of places and events you have got in your area to go to let alone be able to take Honey to! People in New Zealand don’t tend to take their dogs to many public places or events. In my town dogs aren’t allowed into the CBD, which isn’t very big anyway, unless they’ve got their CGC. And that’s where most of the cafes are.

    I mostly stick to the park/river where we go virtually daily and the beach. Frankie is a total pain in the butt on lead so off lead places are much more pleasant for both of us:) Beryl I could take anywhere but I hate leaving Frankie behind. But it’s OK. I’m happy going to our usual places and mixing with dog friendly people:)

    • I find the truly dog-friendly places like parks are much more fun than cafes. I don’t find my dogs just love being in the city (though they’ve never minded it much). Moving from Philadelphia (5th or 6th largest in the US?) to a small city in upstate NY has given us many more options.

      BTW, do you actually have people checking for CGC’s at the outskirts of the Central Business District?

      • No, Pamela, nobody actually does check if any dogs in the CBD have got their CGC. At least I don’t think so! On rare occasions I have seen a person or people sitting outside a cafe with their dog while they have a coffee and I’ve never seen anybody go up to them and ask them to move on.

        Beryl wouldn’t mind living in a big city as long as there was somewhere she could go for a good run, preferably every day! Frankie would hate it.

  10. I am a hardcore rule-follower when it comes to posted signs. My husband, however, is not. We have actually gotten into arguments before over places he wants to take the dog and places I tell him we are not allowed to do so. It’s kind of sad. He will take her through the gold course that is located within a few blocks of our house, despite the fact he has to slip through a hole in the fence, and let the dog run loose. I refuse to go with him.

    That said, our city tries to be dog friendly. For the most part, all beaches, parks, and other such outdoor places allow leashed dogs. In the winter and fall/early spring, the best places to go off-leash walking are the large number of beaches in the area. In the summer, of course, I obey the leash laws, even if another family member does not. 😛

    • Hmmm, do you find Shiva preferring your better half on those days they slip through the fence and run off leash in the golf course? 🙂

      My husband and I have traditionally been avid rule-followers. But as I get older, I wonder if it’s more an excuse to make myself miserable than to contribute to the values of my community.

      So while I probably wouldn’t break through a fence, I do try to stick to the spirit of the rule if not the letter. I assume the rules against dogs on golf courses exist so they don’t have to deal with dog poop and people messing up their greens.

      Of course, in our area, the golf greens are overrun with Canada goose poop so allowing a few dogs to run them off would probably be a good idea. 🙂