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Unleash Yourself! Discover a Dog-Friendly Durham

We get it – the pet parents among us have longer lists and fuller suitcases when we travel … ones that include leashes, bowls, and chew toys that our furry families can’t go without.

Posted By Ashley Strahm on Mar 29, 2018

Getting your pup in the back seat is the first step, but what about when you arrive on location? Here in Durham you need not leave your pets on the curb – we invite you to bring them into the heart of your adventures! Read on ... we’re out to prove that Durham is as pet-friendly a community as they come.

Where to Stay (stay ... good dog!)

You've been traveling in eager anticipation of your arrival ... and you've finally made it! Where should you stay? Durham has delightful accommodations for both you and your pet, including many close to the action.

The Unscripted Durham Hotel and 21c Museum Hotel feature eclectic decor, delicious treats and complete permission to pamper your pooch in plush pillows and comforters. The Residence Inn Duke University Medical Center is a short walk to Duke and downtown attractions, and if you're into sitting poolside with your pup, feel free to stay at The Comfort Inn RTP, which is conveniently close to shopping at The Streets at Southpoint.

Where to Drink

When you're ready to seize the day, there’s much to experience with your pets in tow, especially at indoor/ outdoor breweries that also host delicious food and drink for the humans in your pack to enjoy. Ponysaurus Brewing Company features a predominantly grassy space furnished with long picnic tables and umbrellas, perfect for children and pups to play safely. Fullsteam Brewery also boasts an integrated area to have your pups socialize and drink… from their very own dog bowls, of course! Durty Bull Brewery features an extensive sour beer program, but is also host to an expansive outdoor area to make soaking up the rays the best part of the day.

Where to Eat

Breweries aren’t the only place to pamper your pooch – especially with summer right around the corner. Restaurants like Bull McCabes, and Bull City Burger and Brewery have outdoor spaces where pets can take a load off while you recharge.

Where to Go

What’s more – spaces like American Tobacco Campus invite pet owners to bring pets large and small to enjoy the lawn and the various events that take place throughout the year. The weekly Durham Farmers’ Market and frequent Central Park performances are free for pets to enjoy as well.

Durham’s outdoor spaces are waiting. Take your pup for a leash free romp at the Durham, Northgate, Piney Wood and West Village dog parks, or even better – for a walk downtown, a hike at Eno River State Park, or bike ride on the American Tobacco Trail.

Stop by downtown staple Other End of the Leash Pet Boutique & Bakery to pamper your pooch in style – this locally owned shop promotes fair-trade supplies and wellness products with your pet’s whole health in mind.

Studious Pooches

Duke University has a Canine Cognition Center which studies assistance dogs. And the best news is they want you to help play with the puppies. They need as much socialization as possible. If you would like to volunteer, send a message to the Duke Canine Cognition account on Instagram and if the puppies are awake, you can play with them.

What’s more, Durham has produced fertile ground for a new addition to the Durham's pet-friendly family: Barley Labs. Durham’s first dog-focused bar and retail space has a special canine at the center of its entrepreneurial vision, and we wanted to know more.

Barley Labs Q&A

Barley Labs serves all-natural dog treats made with barley recycled from the beer brewing process, as well as craft beer and bottled selections. Retail offerings for both humans and furry friends make this a collaborative adventure, but the dog-friendly nature of Durham is precisely why Theresa Chu, owner of Barley Labs, moved to Durham in 2010. We asked her a few questions about why Durham is the perfect place to plant a pup-focused pub.

Tons of breweries allow dogs here in Durham, but Barley Labs seems like it's a bit different. Can you talk about why your business' dog-centric focus is so important?

We've learned from our own experiences with our dogs and from our interactions with our customers that a happy dog means a happy human. We wanted to make sure that the dogs' experiences at our shop were just as comfortable and welcoming as it is for the humans, so we included features like dog beds and toys for them to enjoy while on site along with leash ties throughout the space.

What qualities does Durham have that you believe allows a business like Barley Labs to thrive?

We've always said that Barley Labs doesn't exist without the Durham community. Since we launched in 2012, so much of our success is due to the fact that Durham is filled with people who have such a deep love for and pride in the city and want to support local businesses. If it weren't for that mindset, I don't think we would've been able to expand to this dog-focused shop.

You mention your dog Barley having some issues with sensitivity and shyness, which could be a reason why people don't bring their dogs along when they travel. How will Barley Labs alleviate some of that anxiety?

We want all dogs to be able to come in and enjoy our space, so we created a rule that all dogs must be on the leash. This helps dogs who might be a bit shyer (and their owners) feel like they aren't being bombarded by other dogs. We also ask that humans be respectful and ask before they pet someone else's dog. Finally, we have a yellow ribbon program. Owners can ask for a yellow ribbon to tie around their leash if their dog is shy or anxious. This tells other guests that the dog prefers to be left alone.

What would you say to those who have a furry member of the family who are considering Durham as a weekend getaway?

I would say you and your pup will have the best time if you decide to make Durham your weekend getaway. You won't find a friendlier city for both humans and dogs… there's just so much to do. A tired dog is a happy dog!

Durham makes for an excellent city to enjoy with your pet – both inside and outside, from retail to restaurant. You’re free to visit with your pet in tow; there’s plenty of room to roam!

About the Author

Ashley Strahm

Jersey roots, Durham fruits. Lover of all things edible, egalitarian and true. Find me clad in Birkenstocks, seeking Bull City Beautiful stories by trail, wheel and spoke.