Dog Friendly Austin: The Solution to Summer Dog Walking
Too Hot for Dog Walking in Austin?
Look, I know…I know. We live in Texas. It’s summer. And this summer - in particular - is painful. We’ve already had some of the hottest days on record.
It’s so hot that I’m getting calls from the City of Austin warning me to stay indoors. Cooling centers have been set up all over for desperate citizens who need to escape the blistering heat.
These are definitely not dog friendly days. And the sizzling sidewalks mean it’s not safe for your midday walk.
Your dog still needs it. If you have a pup that’s remotely mobile, you can’t just toss them in the backyard for 5 minutes and wait for September.
The Yard is Not Enough
Your yard is awesome - if you have one. But there’s a problem with just using it as a substitute for a walk. Your yard can’t do what a walk does.
A good, dog friendly walkabout works out your dog’s heart, trims the fat, files down their nails, and diffuses the potentially damaging energy that your dog stores up during the day.
It’s also how a dog cultivates confidence, social skills, and mental balance. Subtracting it from the routine can really throw a wrench in your besties’ development.
Dr. Ari Zabell, of Banfield Pet Hospital in Vancouver, Washington warns that without regular walking our dogs “can become less confident and comfortable with new people, pets and experiences that they aren’t exposed to on a regular basis.”
So what’s the solution to summer? Take your dog for a good, focused air conditioned walk indoors.
Is that even possible?
Of course it is.
Dog friendly places in Austin are all over. And some of them are singularly suited to exercising your dog’s body, mind, and self-esteem.
In this blog, we’ll talk about what to look for in an indoor walk space, some dos and don’ts of the walk, and give you a list of which stores allow dogs.
What You Need In An Indoor Space
Be sure to find a place that has a big floorplan - lots of space. Remember this is to give your dog a real walk. If the place is too small, it’s not much different from walking them around your home.
Look for places with wide aisles so they can pass down them without being destructive, or invasive to other people, and to give sufficient pass space between you and other pups.
And make sure there’s decent parking out front so you don’t have to walk far on the hot pavement to the front door.
Dog Friendly Stores: Think Before Your Walk
Dog friendly stores are a godsend in this heat. But before we get into which stores allow dogs in Austin - I feel like we should go over some dos and don’ts.
We want to make dog friendly policies easy for stores to do. We don't just want to be good guests. We want to make sure that stores stay dog friendly.
So, here's your job - before you go:
Think, is your dog friendly? I don’t mean - is your dog friendly to you. I mean can your dog be in reasonably close quarters and display good manners? If they can’t, DON’T BRING THEM.
Potty your pup before entering the store (and bring bags). Escort them in with an “empty tank,” so to speak. And be ready with a bag and some cleaning supplies if the unthinkable happens.
Keep your dog on a leash. I feel like I shouldn’t have to say this, but … I do. It doesn’t matter if your dog is super nice. People in the store could be phobic, allergic, or just not like dogs. They’ll be more open to your dog being there if it’s clear they're going to stay close to you.
Make sure your dog is up to date on all vaccinations. ‘Nuff said.
Don’t tune out. This is not the moment to get absorbed in a magazine or get hypnotized by your phone. Just because it’s a dog friendly environment doesn’t mean the staff is your dog sitter. Pay attention.
Be calm. It’s so fun to walk around in a/c with your dog. There are going to be new smells and sights. And they could get a lot of attention. You don’t need to convince your dog this is interesting. And an over-excited dog indoors is not good. So be cool. Use a lower register when you talk to them. Don’t rev them up.
No wandering, keep the walk a little structured. Obviously, you don’t have to walk around like you’re in a parade. You can look at stuff, do some shopping, but don’t loose-leash walk. Don’t let your dog choose the route or wander.
This can cause your dog to feel a little too free in the space. They can get disruptive, bother people who don’t want to meet, and even mark the aisle with a little pee.
Which Stores Allow Dogs
I’ve collected some of the most dependable dog friendly places to roam with your pup.
There are, actually, a ton more stores in Austin that allow dogs than this. But these are my favorite for a structured dog walk.
There are 5 locations in Austin, but I can personally recommend the one at 8000 Shoal Creek Blvd, Austin, TX 78757. Wide lanes, friendly staff, and even a new pet store section where you can pick up supplies make it ideal.
If your dog needs a slurp of water, just head out to the nursery where they have a hose. You can fill up a bowl with fresh stuff.
Half Price Books
This is ideal for a nerd like me. I get to stroll my pup and pick up a good book at the same time. The staff is oh-so dog friendly. At the 5555 N. Lamar location they have a stash of treats at the back of the store that the employees are just itching to give to your dog.
Academy Sports and Outdoors
This is a great, dog friendly chain. So no matter where you are in the country you can pop in and pick up a bounce house, a portable smoker, a yoga mat, and some sneakers for the kids.
All while your dogs get their steps in.
The Container Store
I love containers. I don’t know exactly what that’s about. But the Mari Kondo side of me feels at peace in this dog friendly superstore.
The place has a nice open feel - ironically. And your dog can move about in real comfort.
I almost didn’t include these, because they seemed like no-brainers. But I mentioned it to a client this week, and they looked at me like I was a genius. So - yeah. This is an AMAZING place to bring your dog for a walk.
Bear in mind there’s going to be food at every turn, so if your dog is really food driven be ready for some tugging on the leash. This is also the place where you’re most likely to run into other dog walkers.
The Apple Store
This is a place where it feels really weird to walk a dog. But they do allow dogs. If you want to wander in comfort while browsing sleek digital products - you could do worse.
The vibe is genuinely pet friendly, but I do recommend bringing only mature, leashed pets here. If you have a rambunctious dog - this might not fit the vibe.
I particularly recommend the location at Hancock Center. It’s really large and just next door to Petco!
Obviously, the place is crammed with breakable bottles, so this might not be the place for teaching a dog to walk on a leash.
Bed Bath and Beyond
The “Beyond” part might be referring to the nice, air-conditioned pet friendly space. You can walk your dog in real comfort here and buy nearly anything you can think of.
The store has so many good open pathways that you can do some solid circuits with your dog to get the wiggles out and come home calmer.
It’s More Than Just Business
Your dog needs more than just time outside to do his or her “business.”
A focused, happy, and interesting walk is among the highest biological and mental priorities for a dog.
So don’t use the heat as an excuse to bail out on your pup. Make an effort to roam some of Austin’s more dog friendly stores.
Your dog can enjoy the new terrain - while you enjoy the climate control. Everybody wins!
Austintex.gov, City of Austin Heat Advisory Page
PetMD, Walking Your Dog vs. Just Letting Your Dog Out in the Backyard, Paula Fitzsimmons