Downward Dog, Doggie Paddling, & Beyond
Yoga with dogs? Count us WAY in. A pup-friendly yoga class (no, it’s not yoga for dogs), Austin Doga was started in 2010 by yoga teacher and psychotherapist Nicole Vykoukal. Nicole’s emphasis on therapeutic mind-body-spirit interventions and calm demeanor, paired with her belief in the importance of the animal-human bond, makes this the perfect spot for dog owners with all levels of yoga experience. Regardless of if you’re a veteran yogi with the chillest pup around or a beginner with a hyper dog, Austin Doga offers classes for people and pets of all varieties. Read up on their full package of classes and private sessions at austindoga.com.
Rowing Dock ATX
You (and your dog) haven’t truly lived until you’ve hit Lady Bird Lake together. Rowing Dock ATX has you covered with dog-friendly lake access on canoes, kayaks, and their pup-specific stand up paddleboards, “Ruff SUPs.” Located along the lake just west of the Zilker Botanical Gardens and open seven days a week, Rowing Dock ATX is the perfect spot to soak up the sun and take a dip with your dog. Be sure to check out their Tuesday Yappy Hour: dogs and their owners get a second hour on the water absolutely free!
Searching for a worthwhile volunteer cause or don’t have a pup to run with? Look no further. Launched in 2011, RuffTail Runners is a local organization that pairs runners and walkers with shelter dogs to give them the vital fresh air, exercise, and freedom they need. Outside of a brief training process, there’s no jumping through hoops—for the dogs or the volunteers—to get involved with Rufftail and fuel its mission to bring happiness, joy, and health to these animals in search of new homes. The Austin group (find them on Instagram at @rufftailrunners) runs with the pups at Austin Pets Alive! and is always looking for volunteers. Visit rufftailrunners.org for more info.
Top Trails Around Town
Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail
This one’s almost too easy. Boasting downtown views and nearby dog parks, the trail offers both two and four-legged runners the ultimate Austin experience. Though it can get crowded at peak times (especially during the summer), this 10-mile lakeside trail boasts water accessibility and in-town convenience that can’t be beat.
Red Bud Isle
Located just west of MoPac off Lake Austin Boulevard, Red Bud’s the ultimate spot for dog-loving nature enthusiasts. The tiny 13-acre island is great for swimming, hiking, and socializing and should be a part of every Austinite’s bucket list. Whether you’ve been there a thousand times or have yet to make your maiden voyage there, Red Bud’s a must-visit summer spot for dog owners.
Shoal Creek Greenbelt
Central location? Check. Leash-free area? Check. An Austin staple every trail dog should check out? You know it. The perfect place to take a post-work stroll with a pup, the Shoal Creek Greenbelt is an easy place to get some much-needed fresh air or work into your weekly routine.
Laguna Gloria Sculpture Garden
Looking to break a physical and a mental sweat? Laguna Gloria’s got you covered. A gorgeous, sprawling lakeside sculpture garden filled with beautiful artwork, meandering trials, and plenty of places to relax by the water, it’s a great artsy doggy date spot.
Turkey Creek Trail
Unlike some of the other options, Turkey Creek’s not centrally located (it’s out towards Westlake off City Park Road). But don’t get it twisted—the three-mile moderately trafficked trail is as dog-friendly and pleasant an outdoor experience as it gets.
Approaching Dog-Friendly Races
Hounds and Heroes 5K – April 14
Running and doggy tricks galore for a good cause: it doesn’t get any better than this. Put on by The Dog Alliance to benefit Hounds for Heroes—which provides service dogs to veterans and first responders suffering from PTSD—and its Bow Wow Reading Dogs program, the morning 5K kicks off a day full of dog-themed activities. Beyond the race itself, there will be a dog costume contest, carnival games, dog sport demonstrations, and a “Central Texas Dogs Got Talent” contest.
Silicon Labs Sunshine Run – May 6
Featuring a 5K walk, a 5K run, and a 10K run, this event’s proceeds go the Austin Sunshine Camps, which help local low-income youth attend summer camp at no cost to their families. Competitors beware—there’s a Fastest Dog in Austin 5K. Sign up now to help your pup lay claim to this coveted title!