Taking a road trip this summer? Durango is known for being especially dog friendly, so you don’t have to leave your beloved best friend at home with a dog sitter or at the kennel. Traveling with your pet can be a fun and rewarding experience, and as with any trip, a little preparation and local knowledge goes a long way.
The area boasts miles of trails to hike, rivers to swim and an outdoorsy, dog-friendly atmosphere. Pay close attention to posted signs and adhere to leash laws. All trails within city limits require leashes, with the exception of the Durango Dog Park off-leash area. Located at the base of Smelter Mountain on the banks of the Animas River and walking distance from downtown, the park offers 24-acres for dogs to run, roam, swim and socialize unimpeded. And it’s a great place for human counterparts to meet friendly locals and other travelers.
Pets are also allowed off-leash in the wilderness areas and National Forest, but must be under voice and sight control at all times. Harassing wildlife — i.e. chasing deer or mouthing marmots — can get both you and your furry friends in a lot of trouble. And if your dog has any aggressive tendencies whatsoever please keep him or her on a leash and under your control at all times.
According to Dr. Catherine Rottinghaus from Durango Animal Hospital, there are a few things to keep in mind when traveling to Colorado with your beloved pet. Traveling someplace new and unfamiliar can be stressful for your dog, and as the pack leader it’s up to you to keep him safe, comfortable and having fun.
“These days we see a lot of dogs who accidentally ingested their owners marijuana now that pot is legal in Colorado. While most cases are generally mild, it’s stressful for the animal and can present serious health issues depending on the size of the dog and the amount of THC consumed.” Super-concentrated marijuana edibles are often the culprits since they’re disguised as tasty snacks or candy, and food motivated, opportunistic dogs are liable to overdose from even a small amount.
The high alpine environment of Southwest Colorado also presents huge temperature swings of up to 50° +/- from morning to afternoon and evening. The weather is extreme in both summer and winter, so never leave your pet alone in a car. Your car may be parked in the shade in the morning, but by 11am getting full sun with temps rapidly rising to dangerous levels. It may be 85° outside but can get up over 120° inside the car even with the windows slightly open. Your pet may suffer irreversible damage and can even die.
It’s also legal for someone to break your car window if they see a dog inside on a hot day, so it’s best to err on the side of caution. Do everyone a favor and avoid leaving your dog in the car altogether. Likewise in the wintertime temps dip well below freezing and your shorthaired, flat lander friend won’t appreciate being left freezing cold in the car. You’re better off to leave him or her at one of Durango’s doggie daycares available at Healthy Hounds and Fat Cats, Willow Tree, Dogs Rock or Paws ‘n Playtime.
Well-behaved dogs (and their owners) are welcome at a number of Durango hotels and businesses. Stop in for a treat at Jitters’ Java, Maria’s Bookshop and Southwest Sound, or a slice of Canadian bacon at Durango Bagel. Your pooch will appreciate the numerous water bowls outside retail shops throughout downtown.
Remember to “leave no trace” and “pack it out” when enjoying the local trails and wilderness, which also includes picking up after your pet. With so many dogs in town, it’s not only important to keep the trails pristine, but it’s also a health and safety issue for humans and waterways.
Enjoy your stay!