Bend Dog Parks

Bend Oregon definitely prides itself as a dog town. Most breweries and eateries offer outdoor seating where you can sit with your dog. There are some great locally owned pet shops that carry quality merchandise for your furry best friend. And out of the 81 human parks, there are 8 off-leash dog areas. In all honesty, eight off leash dog parks is not a lot. Most other towns I have lived in or visited have well over ten parks where your pup can run wild and free. However, the quality of these 8 dog parks greatly surpasses those I have been to elsewhere. Wide-open spaces, usually fenced-in, in safe neighborhoods, and maintained by the wonderful people at PAC and Bend Parks n Rec. Below you will see a list (in no particular order) of the off-leash areas in Bend, with some notes as to what to expect when visiting them.

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  • Big Sky– 5 acres, both fenced and unfenced, broken up into several sections. When you first enter the off-leash area from the main gate, you will be in a High Desert trail environment. Walking through the second gate will bring you into some more desert trails, and a nice big grassy field with some picnic tables, a water spigot, and plenty of room for some Chuck-It. Through yet another gate you will find the unfenced area where you can walk the trails and reach the pond and canal. This area requires a leash. Dogs are not allowed to swim in the pond or canals, though that does not stop many pups or their people from doing so. If you continue along the canal you’ll reach a large empty stretch of land, again on leash please. (UPDATE: this area after the pond is now private property, but all the “No Swimming” signs have been removed!) This park is not often very busy, but it is surrounded by a lot of human activities (soccer, lacrosse, biking). If you go during the hours of 8am & 10am you might run into a very large dog group, so if your dog is easily overwhelmed you might want to wait until the afternoon.
  • Bob Wenger at Pine Nursery– 18.8 fenced acres, including a small dog area (which I have never been in). This park is nice and spread out, allowing you to walk a variety of paths and giving your pup different sights and smells. Most of the park is High Desert walking trails, with benches along the way, one of which features an amazing view of the mountains to the West. The trails open up to a very large grassy field, with partially open fencing along the perimeter to help you keep an eye on your pup. There are some picnic tables and a couple water spigots throughout the park, as well as poop bag stations and trashcans. This park has several entries/exits which allow you to access the greater paved trail that goes around the entirety of Pine Nursery. Your dog must be on leash whenever outside of the off-leash dog area. The visitors of this park vary, including the regulars that attend almost religiously, and the tourists who just Googled “dog park” and voila! Most people in this park are great, but this is the park I have experienced the most issues at. Humans on cellphones not paying attention to their dogs, dog walkers dropping their pack off and letting them have free rein, and nonlocals who bring their not-so-friendly pooches along just to get some energy out.  I have also run into quite a few dog-free bicyclists in this park. *Note- the dog park shares a parking lot with the pickleball courts, which can get very busy*
  • Discovery– 1.6 acres fenced. I’m going to be blunt, I never come here. It was originally created by West Bend Property Company, and was recently taken over by Bend Parks n Rec. It’s Snoozeville to me and my pack. I would probably go more often if I had an elderly Havanese that enjoyed strolling at a snail’s pace. The human park is very nice and peaceful, but the dog park is lacking. The good news is, it is very rarely busy, and it’s a new park so there is a lot of opportunity for growth and improvements.
  • Ponderosa– 2.9 fenced acres with a separate small dog area. This is my most frequented park, mostly because it’s in my ‘hood. It’s a much smaller scale Pine Nursery, with desert-like walking trails that lead into a small opening where you can play ball. Rather than having a nice grassy clearing for ball play, the entire park is dirt, except for the small dog area. The small dog area is all grass, with some small trees and benches. It has a chain link fence separating it from the big dog area. A lot of the little dogs love to run up and down this fence line barking at humans and dogs on the other side, and a lot of the owners do not correct this behavior, so if you have a dog that loves fence fighting this may not be the park for you. Most of the park is shade, which is great on hot days, but makes things very chilly on cold days. There is a water spigot, and it is surrounded by a human park, complete with two skateparks, a soccer field, a playground, and some paved walking paths. This park is mostly used by those who live in the neighborhood, but you also see some out-of-towners. A lot of cellphone use at this park, and a lot of people sitting at benches while their dog is on the opposite side of the park. Also, for some reason, a lot of people bring human food to this park and eat it at the picnic table in the middle of the dog play area.
  • Riverbend– 1.1 acres fenced with small dog area and dog access to the river. Bleh. I apologize if it sounds like I’m talking smack, but if you live in Bend and have taken your dog to this park, you probably share my view. It’s an afterthought. It’s at the end of the lush, grassy Riverbend Park, tucked away at the other end of a rocky parking lot. The terrain is all tiny rocks, which makes poop scooping a game, cracking toenails and paw pads a cinch, and the rocks become scorching hot on sunny days and icy and treacherous in cold months. There are a couple benches, but absolutely no shade. And no drinkable water, unless you count the river, which isn’t technically drinkable. The small dog area is not worth the visit. The river access is reached by leaving the dog park and entering another gate across the path. Access is only granted to those that love launching into water from the rocks above. Imagine if you’re friends told you they were taking you swimming, and then you arrived only to realize you had to jump from a rock cliff into the water below. This is where all tourists bring their dogs. Close to Old Mill, hotels, and a very popular human park, it offers quite a bit of convenience to those who are visiting. I have come across more unattended dogs at this park than any other (unattended meaning they are left alone in the fenced park without their human) I do not know where the human goes, but my guess is for a nice relaxing float in the Deschutes. I realize I have nothing positive to say about this park except that it is connected to the River Trail, which is a fantastic LEASH walk.
  • Awbrey Reservoir– 5 acres, slightly fenced. Yes, slightly fenced. The park is surrounded by some wooden post fencing, but it is not closed in by any means. Please be aware that the parking lot is attached to a semi busy road, and the park runs along 12th, which people love driving super fast on. This park is connected to Hillside Park, and yes it is on a hillside. It is sprinkled with unpaved walking trails that allow you to wander the hill and lead you to a great view of town. There are a couple picnic benches, where I have actually seen families having sit down dinners. There is no water spigot in the park, but there is a drinking fountain in the parking lot equipped with a lower fountain for dogs (dog bowl is not included). This park is mostly inhabited by neighborhood locals, and most of the park’s visitors do weekly cleanups of poops and trash. It’s not really a place to play ball, but it is nice for a relaxing sunrise/sunset stroll.
  • Overturf– 4.6 fenced acres. This park is perched up above a children’s playground and surrounded by newer homes. It has a forest feel, with tall trees covering most of the sky, and dirt trails throughout. The hill gives dogs a good workout, and just outside the dog park you’ll find Skyliner Summit Loop, where you can enjoy a peaceful walk after your pup gets to play with some pals. The park is never crowded, and most guests are neighborhood locals. There is no water spigot or drinking fountain, and people have been kind enough to bring water jugs. If you remember, bring a gallon of H20 along on your next trip to Overturf.
  • Hollinshead– 3.7 acres unfenced. This park is good for more mellow dogs who like to lay in the grass, stroll and take in the sniffs, and possibly play some light ball. The area is surrounded by a much larger human park, and it’s difficult to tell where the off-leash area begins and ends (especially for dogs who can’t read) so you have to be aware of the off-leash posts and make sure your dog stays where he is supposed to so you don’t get accosted by the nondog people. Right next to the dog park is a barn, where a lot of Bendites get married, so please make sure your pup isn’t off eating wedding cake or running away with a bride. This park also has some great LEASH walking trails around it.

Hopefully these tidbits prove helpful, and hopefully we can continue to improve these parks and open others up to off-leash play! Please do your part and pick up poops and trash while visiting Bend’s glorious parks!

The Off-Leash Epidemic

Oh Bend, the most amazing Dog Town this side of the Mississippi. How I love your glorious dog parks, your extensive hiking trails, and all your refreshing swimming holes. And apparently, so does everyone else and their mother… and their dog!

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If you live in Bend (or anywhere else where dogs and humans coexist) you’ll run into the issue of dogs freely roaming the outdoors, not a care in the world and not a leash in site. You’ll be walking along a peaceful trail, listening to the birds and the distant river, looking up at the tall pines, keeping your best friend close-by and safe with a six foot nylon leash. Suddenly you look at the trail ahead and you see an adorable little Aussie, just standing about ten feet in front of you, still as a statue, and you begin your internal dialogue, “Is this dog with a human? Should I turn the other way? Or head off trail? Is it going to approach?” Meanwhile, that best friend you keep next to you on lead is beginning to whine and tug and stress. Suddenly another human appears, and casually yells to you, “Oh it’s ok he’s friendly!” And you uncomfortably chuckle, “Ok great, mine is not!”

This is a daily occurrence. Bend is a pretty dog friendly town, and people seem to take that and run with it… off leash. There are numerous off leash dog parks and trails in town, but the majority of hiking, walking, & biking paths are leashed areas. This means your dog MUST be on leash… not if they’re cool they can hang… they MUST BE ON LEASH. This is not because the city loves power and wants to control your rights, this is for the safety of you, your dog, and everyone around you. I know, other people, what a weird concept, but a lot of people do not like dogs. A lot of dogs do not like dogs. Allowing your dog to run off leash is much easier for you and much more enjoyable for your pup, but some dogs become incredibly anxious when approached by an off-leash dog, and your dog could get hurt if it sniffs the wrong dog. Or even worse a human could get hurt.

When you are in off-leash areas, please make sure your pup is well behaved. Dogs are technically only to be off leash when they have excellent recall and are under your control. There have been instances where well trained dogs have wandered from their owners, bothering a non-dog loving human, and let me tell you, people who do not have dogs love telling you that your dog is terrible, and they love reporting you for going against the rules.

Here’s a true story from the Sydney Morning Herald: Neil McMahon had brought his dog to an off-leash dog beach. He allowed the dog to wander and enjoy itself. The dog approached a baby laying on a blanket in the sand and decided to give that baby a lick on the face. (don’t ask me what a baby was doing laying in the sand of a dog beach) The child’s mother accused the dog of attacking the baby and called the police. Neil was fined $238 because the dog was not under his control.

“‘Effective control’ is defined as follows. It means your dog will return to you upon command (fair enough, though I don’t know a dog owner who has a 100 per cent success rate on that front). It means that you “retain a clear and unobstructed view of the dog” in the off-leash area at all times (fair enough, and usually not a problem unless the whirling dervish of romping dogs gets too big or they head off into the shrubbery in pursuit of a tennis ball). But here’s the kicker that got me in trouble: ‘effective control’ means your dog ‘does not bother, attack, worry or interfere with other people or animals’.” -Neil

So if you aren’t worried about other dogs or people, at least worry about your bank account. Or being an adult and being scolded by a police officer or park ranger, cuz that would be embarrassing.

Be courteous and cautious. Be mindful of your dog and others. Be a standup, law abiding citizen. If you need help finding an off-leash area or need to become better acquainted with your areas leash laws, Google is great at looking things up! If you live in Bend the Dog PAC is an excellent resource for dog parks, summer and winter trails, and upcoming dog events! Dogster Magazine and Zuke’s have some great tips on Adventuring with your pup off leash!

*this has been on my mind lately because of how many people have been complaining of off-leash dogs in an area they thought safe to bring their dog-reactive-dog for a walk*

 

Over Prepared

As a dog hiker & walker I have to be prepared for anything, and thus I have to carry a lot of gear. I’ve gone through several different packs, and a lot of back pain, to find the right system for my day to day. People often approach me and ask me what I’m carrying around in my pack, so I thought I would layout exactly what I carry around all day!

Click on an image to enlarge and see what’s what!

A few things I would like to note:

  1. I keep a full size first aid kit for dogs and humans in my car.
  2. I carry the full fanny pack for long treks, and the smaller blue one for dog park trips and shorter neighborhood walks.
  3. The dog deterrent spray is for dog attacks/fights only. Please educate yourself on this spray before using it.
  4. My full sized fanny pack has two water bottle holders. I will sometimes leave one empty to carry full poop bags in.
  5. I like to keep paper and a pen around in case I need to write myself or others notes. I like to limit my phone use while out on Adventures so I can focus on the dogs and prolong my battery life for any emergencies that may arise. (the portable charger only holds so much juice!)
  6. Bandanas make dogs look cute, but are also great to soak in water on hot days! They can also be used in first aid emergencies, or any instance where you might need a rag.
  7. Packs differ in cold weather by adding gloves, headgear, extra socks, hand warmers, yak tracks, and snow booties for some dogs. In hot weather I carry two water bottles with ice added, a bandana for each dog and one for myself, sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.
  8. You don’t have to carry a pouch around to collect trash and glass. It’s just something I do as a way to give back to the dog community.

I like to keep my packs stocked and ready for Adventuring at the drop of a hat! It’s also helpful for overnight trips. Just have to grab his bed and food and we’re off!

I would also like to give a quick shout out to everyone who helped make these packs! Thanks to City Thrift for having an old park ranger’s fanny pack for $8, thanks to Humane Society Thrift for selling the treat pouch for $1, to Sticker Mule for making some incredible stickers and magnets, Moo for always making the best quality business cards, and of course Amazon for selling first aid kits, portable dog bowls, and an endless supply of poop bags for super cheap! Shop local, but also don’t throw your money away! Most dog supplies get lost or damaged.

Tools of the Trade

When it comes to the right collar, leash, and harness things get kind of overwhelming. There are so many options, styles, shapes, colors, clips, ahhhh! But have no fear, here is a list of standard collars, harnesses, and leads for your guidance knowledge!

Collars

  • Standard Flat Collar– This is your basic collar that you can find in grocery store. They are usually made of a nylon or leather, but can come in various fabrics. These collars can be used with easy, loose leash walkin’ pups. They shouldn’t be used for sighthounds as they can easily slip over their heads. You can get these collars with a belt buckle style, a fastening clip, or a break away version. If you plan to leave the collar on while your pup is unsupervised, I suggest a breakaway collar so they can’t get snagged on something and strangle themselves.

standardflatclip     standardflatbuckle      breakaway

  • Martingale– This collar is a great substitution for the ol’ choke chain (see below). It consists of two loops, the larger going around the dog’s neck and the smaller clips to the leash. The larger loop is made of a nylon fabric, while the smaller loop is either nylon or chain. When the dog pulls, the smaller loop tightens. These collars are perfect for sighthounds with necks the same size as their heads, because they cannot slip out of them. Never allow the metal pieces of the larger loop to touch!

   martingalefabric     how-martingale-works-340     martingalechain

  • Head Halter– The most popular of these is a Gentle Leader made by PetSafe. It slips over the dog’s muzzle, but is not restrictive to their normal movements (they are able to pant, drink, and eat… they can give kisses too!) These collars keep the dog from dragging their nose along the ground and keeps them focused on you by turning their head anytime they pull. This collar is meant to be used for leash training and can be swapped out after you achieve loose leash behavior. It can be difficult for dogs to get used to this so be sure to have treats and patience with you!

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*Collars should fit so you are able to comfortably fit two fingers underneath.

Aversive Collars

  • Choke Chain– This is basically just what it sounds like. It’s a chain that tightens around your dog’s neck as they pull. These should only be used with guidance of a professional trainer, as they can often cause tracheal damage when improperly used. They should never be left on an unsupervised pup. Martingale collars are great alternatives to these. Never use on short nose dogs!

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  • Prong Collar– These collars are made of linked steel prongs that go into a dog’s neck when they pull. These are only used for dogs that are difficult to control and dogs that are aggressive. Again, these should only be used with guidance of a professional trainer. If you chose to use this collar, be sure to give you pup some naked time without it.

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Harnesses

  • Back-Clip Harness– This is a harness that attaches to the… back! This is great for loose leash walkin’ pups, but not the best for dogs that tend to pull. When you pull, they pull. This harness is great for short nose dogs!

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  • Front-Clip Harness– This clips in the front! Having the leash clipped to the chest of your pup causes them to turn toward you when they pull. With proper guidance, they will get bored of being turned sideways and this can lead to a loose leash walking dog! Some of these harnesses also allow for you to clip to the front and back.

frontcliponly    frontandbackclip

*There are so many style and fit options when it comes to harnesses that I can’t cover them all… it’s always best to get what suits your pup!

Leashes

  • Standard Leash– This comes in many fabrics, styles, and lengths. You can even get leashes that change length with the help of an extra clip! Again you should find a leash that is best for you and your pup. We have several options for different activities.

   ropelease      reflectiveleash      doubleclip

  • Slip Lead– These are usually flat nylon or a braided rope. They simply slip over the dog’s head and like a martingale collar, tightens as the dog pulls. Be sure to use these with proper knowledge as they can cause damage if used inappropriately on a pulling pup.

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  • Retractable Leash– These are the leashes that retract into a handle! Let me just biased-ly say, these are a big pet peeve for me. They offer little to no guidance from the human and allow the dog to control the walk. Normally when I see these used in the world they are used very carelessly and have left a bad taste in my mouth.

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This list was put together with years of frustration, pointless purchases, and victories. For more guidance ask your trainer, veterinarian, or check out the AKC website.

 

*Keep in mind that humans have a tendency to judge your dog’s behavior on their collar. Choke chains and prong collars often lead people to believe your dog is aggressive or difficult to manage. Standard collars cause people to see a friendly happy dog, even if they are not. Though we try to avoid stereotypes, our brains cannot escape it as often as we’d like to think.

What to Consider When Boarding your Pup

Throughout my years of dog care I have met a variety of dog parents. Some humans become very connected to their fur babies, and feel they are more than just a mere dog, while others simply got them to match the decor in their home. Yet regardless of what kind of relationship humans have with their pups, almost every pet owner is looking for the best possible care for their critters while they are away.

Here are some things I have learned about daycares, boarding facilities, and in-home sitters that you might want to consider:

  • Give yourself plenty of time before a trip to find a good pet care option. Waiting until the last minute could leave your pup in the hands of someone less qualified than if you look a couple months ahead, especially during busy holiday seasons. If you currently have pets, and do not have a pet sitting option, find someone you like now! Even if you never leave your house, it is always a good idea to have someone you trust that can care for your pets if any emergencies arise. (it’s an even better idea to find more than one place for your pets, in case the first is unavailable)
  • Meet the in-home sitter! If you choose to go the in-home sitting route, meet the sitter with plenty of time before your trip. Watch how they interact with your pets, have a list of questions ready for them, and make sure they have good references from other pet parents. Go with your gut! If you feel a person isn’t right for your pets, interview another sitter!
  • Take a tour of the facility you plan to use! This is a very important step in finding reliable dog care. Every boarding facility should offer a tour for new clients. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to see where your dog will be staying while you are out of town. They might offer odd hours for tours, based on the boarding dogs’ schedules, but if they refuse a tour altogether, red flag! Don’t forget your list of questions!
  • Think about the size of the pack and the daily environment. A lot of boarding facilities have large pack sizes, and house anywhere from 40-140 dogs. Some places have the space and staff for this many dogs, while others pack them to the gills simply for profit. Remember that tour you took? Was the facility loud and filled with barking? Were the playgrounds ample space for the amount of dogs using them? How many humans were on staff to watch the dogs? Were things clean and organized, or did the indoor rooms smell of urine? Though there are numerous facilities that look and smell like dogs use them as their personal toilets, and have little to no supervision during play, know that there are also boarding facilities that smell clean, look sanitary, and have friendly and caring staff constantly observing your pet. A larger boarding facility doesn’t always mean a good or bad thing. Some dogs could do well in these environments, but others can get very overwhelmed in larger pack sizes, and perhaps an in-home sitter is a better option.
  • Humans. This is the most important thing to consider in dog care. What are the humans doing? Are they with your dog at all times? Or is your dog in a room of 80 dogs and no human supervision? If you are using an in-home pet sitter, you normally only have to worry about one human. If you’re using a boarding facility, your pet is around a variety of faces and you often don’t get to meet the entire staff ahead of time. It’s always a good idea to observe staff while on a tour. Do they seem connected to the job and animal they are working with, or are they dragging their feet and mumbling under their breath? Even at the worst boarding facility, a caring and knowledgable staff can go a very long way. Those invested in dog care will always go above and beyond to make sure your pup receives the best care possible, regardless of the environment. 
  • Every animal is different. As you may know, not every pet will react the same to boarding. Think about what is right for your unique individual before committing. Do they like being around just a few dogs, or do they crave a larger pack? Would they do ok in a kennel throughout the day, or do they suffer from separation anxiety? You know your pet best, after all!

As I said before, go with your gut! You could always do a trial run before the big day arrives. Board your pup, or have them enjoy a day of daycare at the facility (or with the sitter) before you head out of town. If any issues arise, you’ll be close by. Plus you’ll get a night to yourself to be human!

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