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12 ways to make your dog’s Bend vacation pawsitively perfect

Dog getting a treat at Paulina Lake, near Bend, OR

Planning a dog-friendly Bend vacation? It’s an awesome plan, considering Bend’s been dubbed the nation’s dog-friendliest city by Dog Fancy magazine.

Bend boasts tons of dog-friendly hiking trails, pet hotels, off-leash dog parks, and doggy day cares to make your furry best friend send waggy-tailed postcards to his buds back home.

Start with Visit Bend’s pet page for planning your pupper’s epic trip. Ready to roll with Rover? Here’s a roundup of 12 tips to keep your pup safe, happy, and healthy when traveling in Bend.

Know where Rover can roam free

While Bend has tons of off-leash dog parks where your fur pal can frolic without a tether, the rules get trickier on trails. The Deschutes National Forest in particular has leash restrictions in many areas during high-traffic times from May to September. DogPac.org has excellent info about where and when and how your pup can recreate in Central Oregon’s top hiking spots. Make sure you know the rules before you set out, and always have a leash handy just in case.

Tawna with her dogs on the summit of Pilot Butte in Bend, OR.

Blogger Tawna enjoys a hike up Pilot Butte with her two pups, Bindi and JackJack.

Protect your pupper’s paws

Concrete and asphalt can burn your best friend’s paws quicker than you can say “Bend gets hot in July.” Here’s a test: If you can’t walk barefoot on the pavement outside your Bend hotel, neither can he. 

Winter brings its own set of challenges, so consider a sturdy set of dog booties made by Bend’s own RuffWear or a tin of Musher’s Secret you can pick up in most local pet stores.

dog in winter near Bend, Oregon

Check your dogs paws in winter, too.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Just like you, your tail-wagger needs fresh, clean drinking water to fuel her adventures. Here in the high desert, not all hiking trails come equipped with drinking fountains or flowing rivers to quench Queenie’s thirst. Pack an extra reusable water bottle or two and fill them before you set out. Bendy Dog and Bend Pet Express both sell foldable dog bowls made by Bend-based Ruffwear, and those fit nicely in your pack. 

While Bend’s dog-friendly nature means lots of shops set out water for dogs, it’s worth being cautious. Parvo and kennel cough are common and easily spread through shared drinking bowls, so it’s always best to bring your own.

Dogs at a lake near Bend, OR

Taking your pups to one of the many lakes near Bend will keep them cool and hydrated.

Never, ever leave Fido in a hot car

Please, please, please…for the love of all that’s holy, don’t leave your dog in the car for even a minute when it’s warm out. If it’s 75-degrees, it takes less than 10 minutes for your car’s temp to reach 100-degrees. In less than 30, it’ll hit 120.I don’t need to tell you what that’ll do to your sweet boi’s snoot (not to mention the rest of his furry body). Before you head out, research whether dogs are welcome where you’re going. Some places like the High Desert Museum offer dog kennels to keep folks from leaving Fido in the car, while tons of Bend restaurants allow pets on outdoor patios. Call ahead, have a plan, and whatever you do, DON’T LEAVE YOUR DOG IN A HOT CAR!

Do your duty when he does his

While many Bend parks have dispensers for dog-doody bags, it’s vital to pack your own in case dispensers run out or you’re hiking someplace that doesn’t supply them. When your pooch squats to do his thing…welp, time for you to do yours. Help protect Bend’s wild places and public spaces by picking up dog doo and packing it out. Yep, this sometimes means hiking several miles with a baggie of poop. A small price to pay to dodge the dog doo karma that strikes if another traveler steps on your abandoned canine landmine.

Canine Courtesy dog sign in Bend, OR

Be a courteous dog owner!

Bring copies of vet records

Accidents happen, even on vacation. Perhaps you’ll need to visit a Bend veterinarian during your stay, or maybe you’ll just want to stash your pet with a Bend pet sitter or doggy daycare for a few hours. Keep a paper or digital copy of vaccination records and other important medical documents, just in case. You should also be sure your doggo’s shots and license are up to date before you hit the road.

Pack the crate

This one’s my personal must-have as a dog lover with crate-trained pups. Their kennels are their safe space—their natural den where they hunker down to feel calm and secure. Traveling with foldable crates gives our pups a spot to be in our hotel or vacation rental, and it curbs the risk of nervous chewing or destruction of property. Just be sure to consult the rules at your Bend hotel so you know if you’re allowed to leave a dog untended. Few things suck more than a mid-dinner call from hotel reception saying, “your dog won’t stop barking in the room and your neighbors complained.”  #LearnedTheHardWay

Book hairdos and hotel stays

Bend lives up to its dog-friendly rep with an abundance of dog resorts, pet sitters, and doggy daycares. If you need a safe space to stash the pupper while you’re whitewater rafting or doing a cave tour, Bend has you covered. And if a little pooch pampering will take your pup’s vacation from “woof” to “WOOOF!” why not do a doggy spa day? Choose from full-service groomers like Happy Tales Pet Resort or Bend Pet Resort, or scrub out the stink yourself with the U-wash option at Bend Pet Express or Muddy Paws.

Watch for warnings

  • Bend’s wild places are beautiful, but they do carry risks to your pup’s health and safety. In desert zones like hiking trails around Smith Rock or Cove Palisades State Park, you’ll see warning signs about rattlesnakes. Keep Rover on leash to avoid a tangle with a fanged friend.
  • Cheatgrass poses another big risk to your pupper’s ears and the delicate space between his toes. If he frolics in fields filled with the evil weed, check him closely to make sure none of the sharp seeds stick in his ears, groin, eyelids, or other painful spots. Better yet, avoid the nasty grass altogether and pick spots where it’s not growing out of control.
Cheat grass in Central Oregon

Check your dog’s paws for cheat grass after any outdoor romp.

  • Water presents another risk to Fido’s health. Blue-green algae can be toxic to dogs, causing problems ranging from itching to liver failure, paralysis, and death. While not all lakes contain this cyanobacteria, it’s more common as summer drags on. Watch for posted signs around lakes and keep your pup out of the water where it’s present. Ditto that for keeping her leashed near swift rapids and other riverside spots where the terrain makes it risky she’ll get a paw caught between rocks.

Grab a doggie life vest

Speaking of water, a doggie life vest is a must-have if your plans for the puparoni include lakes, rivers, or ponds. Even if he’s a solid swimmer, the handle on top works great for hauling him out of the water in a hurry. If I had a nickel for each time my pup hopped off my standup paddleboard and had to be hoisted back up, I could buy six new paddleboards and a couple more canine Float Coats to make sure my mutts stay safe.

Don’t forget the souvenirs 

You bought socks for Aunt Tilda, a painting of Mt. Bachelor for your den, and a bucket of Bend beer for friends not fortunate enough to trek the Bend Ale Trail with you. But what about souvenirs for your floppy-eared soulmate? Bend’s brimming with pet stores offering goods that range from jeweled dog collars to a simple Bend bandana. Look for products created by Bend-based companies like Ruffwear and Spindrift, which you’ll find at regular ol’ retailers like REI in the Old Mill District (and you’re going there anyway for your own outdoor gear, right?)

Bendy dog in Bend, OR

Fido called. He wants a blingy collar from Bendy Dog.

Read up on rules

While the world would be a better place if dogs were allowed everywhere from bars to art galleries, that’s currently not the case. You’ll find tons of pet-friendly Bend restaurants and breweries happy to welcome your pooch on their patio, but some spots don’t permit fur people. For health and safety reasons, events like the Bend Farmers Market and Bend Summer Festival ask that you steer clear with your woofer. Plan ahead, do your homework, and make alternate plans for Spot if she’s not welcome at the table.

Dog friendly Boss Rambler, in Bend, OR

Good dogs are welcome at many breweries in Bend.

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