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Dog Days Of Summer: Make A Day Of It In Bend With Your Best Bud

May 7, 2018

Is Bend dog-friendly? Depends who you ask. One one hand, leash laws within the city limits are pretty tight. On the other hand, there are no shortage of dog owners or advocates working to move the needle. Without a doubt, DogPAC has the most information about area leash laws, trails, parks, and much more. When it comes to dog info in Central Oregon, they’re your (ahem) best friend.

Should you manage to carve out a little quality time with your furry friend, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to a dog day in or near Bend.

Before heading out for a day of activity with your pooch, make sure he’s in good enough health and at an age appropriate for whatever activity you’re planning. Also, depending on the dog, your plans, and the time of year, consider investing in some protective gear like boots or a sweater.

Dogs don’t lose much heat through their paws, so boots are usually better at protecting their feet from sharp or damaging surfaces than from the cold. As for coats, they mostly benefit the small, shorthaired breeds. Unless you’re going out in extreme cold, larger dogs will be just fine au naturel .

We’re pretty lucky in terms of quality dog parks for a town this size, so get out there and take advantage of Bend’s many off-leash areas (OLA). A few of our faves:

Downtown/Old Mill

  • Riverbend offers 1.1 acres right on the Deschutes River just south of the Old Mill District, with a small fenced area. As one of the only nearby options for playing in the water, it’s extremely popular during peak times, making that acre feel awfully small. **Riverbend has a reputation for being pretty roudy**
  • Hollinshead provides 3.7 unfenced acres on the near east side, about ¾ mile north of Pilot Butte. It’s a lovely little spot with ample shade near a community garden.


Bob Wenger Memorial Off-Leash Area at Pine Nursery Park is worth the drive to the northeast side of town. With a whopping 18.8 acres of OLA, it’ll have Fido drooling with delight. Did we mention there’s a seasonal splash pad? 

Big Sky has 12 acres of OLA with a mix of fenced and unfenced areas and natural terrain on the far east side just north of Neff Road. One Yelper proclaimed it, “an oasis of happy happy dogs.” 


  • Awbrey Reservoir is about 5 unfenced acres a little west of downtown on natural terrain. It basically forms the eastern half of the park.
  • Overturf Butte Reservoir offers 4 fenced acres of diverse natural terrain, with the small catch that you need to take a short leash-only trail to get there.

Small dog areas

Diverse terrain and lots of acreage isn’t ideal for all dogs, which is why Riverbend, Pine Nursery, and Ponderosa offer separate areas for small dogs—less than 15 inches at the shoulder and under 25 pounds. Sort of like a kiddie pool.

Restaurants/Breweries Bend’s business community is pretty keyed into the fact that there are lots of dog owners here, and many have dogs themselves. Downtown, in particular, offers a plethora of dog-friendly options for dining and drinks, typically in a patio area reserved for such purpose. Some feel like an afterthought, but many have done a great job making dog owners feel very welcome. Generally, places with generous patio seating will probably be fine with well-behaved dogs but you should always ask.

Downtown/Old Mill



Pet stores

You’ll need some gear and treats for all these adventures, and Bend has plenty of pet stores to hook you up.

Downtown/Old Mill



Other Bend-y activities

Stand-up paddleboarding

Bend has become quite a destination for stand-up paddleboarding. Options abound for calm mountain lakes, but the place to see and be seen is still the stretch of the Middle Deschutes River that runs through town, pretty much from the Healy Memorial Bridge all the way to Drake Park. Locals and tourists alike depend on Stand Up Paddle Bend and Stand On Liquid to get them squared away with a board, which may be among the best core workouts you can get.

For water-loving dogs, it doesn’t get much better than a lazy ride down the river with you, so be sure to ask for a dog-friendly (read: bigger than usual) board to accommodate your canine companion and know his limits in terms of swimming. Portaging around the artificial rapids at Colorado Avenue is a must for SUP-ers.


Even if you don’t stay overnight, camping in Central Oregon is a special treat. Dog lovers will be in good company at most of the area’s innumerable campgrounds, especially around the Cascade Lakes. As always, be respectful. If your pooch is easily spooked and/or prone to barking fits in the middle of the night, you might be asking for trouble. There aren’t many wild predators in these areas, but it’s good to be mindful of the risk, especially if a campground allows small dogs (most don’t). State parks have their own laws.

Unfortunately, Deschutes National Forest has more leash restrictions than Oregon’s other national forests. In general, if you’re in a developed area or trail, they need to be on a leash. River fetch is one notable exception, even on a restricted trail. Again, check DogPAC for the latest info.

Photo safari

Your Facebook friends probably have a pretty good idea what your dog’s home life is like, so why not grab a camera and head out for a photo shoot? Even if you’re just shooting nature or candids, your dog will be glad to just be along for the ride. But to sharpen your photography skills, make her your subject.

If you have a camera with manual settings, the lowest possible ISO with a fast shutter (at least 1/250 second to capture fast action) is the name of the game. Open the aperture if they’re coming out too dark. Experiment with different combinations to get different effects, like a little motion blur, or try following her with the camera as she’s running to make it look like the background is whizzing by.

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