Living in a transient city like Las Vegas can be lonely, especially if you’re new and here on your own, like myself. If you’re between boyfriends and still haven’t wrapped your head around the “kids” thing, a dog is your best bet for a built-in best friend to take on the city with. You could go the cat route, but you’d be missing out on the social opportunities (and unconditional love and joy) owning a dog allows you. I got my German Shepherd doghter (get it?) here in Vegas when I was 17 and can say with confidence, she’s the best purchase I’ve ever made. Read on for a crash course in dog-ownership in Las Vegas, from best hikes to bring the pup on, to best Fido-friendly brunch spots from a veteran Vegas dogmother.

SOCIAL

Let’s get right to the important stuff – where can you go to see and be seen with your bundle of slobbery joy, and meet like-minded dog parents who won’t judge you for talking obsessively about your dog-child? There’s the newly-opened Barx Parx on Eastern that combines a climate-controlled Indoor Dog Park with craft beer served on the weekends; a daily pass is $14.95, while a monthly pass is $18.95. Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar, with locations in Summerlin and Paradise, boasts a covered outdoor patio especially for dining with your dog. If your dog can handle large crowds (and getting enthusiastically pet by drunk people), bring him along to First Friday, the free outdoor food, art, and music festival in downtown Las Vegas Arts District on the first Friday of every month. Bonus tip: you’ll make even more friends if little Spot is sporting a Golden Knights jersey.

HIKING

My dog is my absolute favorite hiking partner even though, and honestly because, without fail she finds the largest stick her neck will allow her to carry, which she then whips into the back of my knees as she runs up behind me. It really heightens the hiking experience. Unfortunately, most hikes on the outskirts of Vegas have predominantly rock trails, which can be ruff on Fido’s paws, especially so in hot summer months. To avoid damaging your pup’s paws on extended hikes, consider getting some dog hiking booties. Another must have for any Vegas hike is a retractable dog bowl. Some of my favorite hikes are Cathedral Rock Trail at Mt. Charleston, and Calico Tanks at Red Rock Canyon (your dog needs to either be small enough to carry, or be able to jump a good distance for this one). For a full day of fun with Fido, strap on the dog booties and hit the Historic Railroad Trail overlooking Lake Mead, then stop for the world’s best fried pickles and a cold brew on the patio of Boulder Dam Brewing Co.

DOG PARKS

My dog park knowledge is a little limited as I’ve gone exclusively to Sunset Park for the six plus years I’ve been in Vegas. I frequent Sunset Dog Park for the proximity and not the luxury; I’ve witnessed two human fights there, both caused by drunk men, and every time I think to myself “I bet this crap doesn’t happen in Summerlin.” If testosterone-fueled confrontation isn’t your thing, skip the dog park at Sunset and instead take Fido on a relaxing sunset walk or run around Sunset’s desert walking trail; end the walk at the elevated station in the middle (complete with a dog water fountain) for beautiful, serene panoramic desert and cityscape views. I haven’t been but have heard great things about the dog park at Desert Breeze Park. Check out a full list of Vegas dog parks with reviews on Bring Fido.

 

GET INVOLVED

If you’re ready to take the plunge into dog-ownership, or just want to give back, there are some great organizations in town manned by wonderful dog-lovers that would love to help or have your help. Vegas Shepherd Rescue and Vegas Pet Rescue Project are two organizations near and dear to my heart that rescue dogs from off the streets, harmful situations, or most often from death row at stressful animal shelters and place them with fosters until they’re adopted. Both organizations are always seeking fosters, adopters, donations, or volunteers to work fundraising events.

Owning a dog allows you a best friend to love unconditionally, can help you make like-minded, good-hearted friends, gives you a reason to get off the couch and on hiking trails, and most importantly, provides a built-in vacuum cleaner for spills.

~Kelsey Cooper