Sunday, April 13, 2014

Dogs In Tahoe

Are you visiting Tahoe? Maybe even moving to Tahoe? You will be glad to know that Tahoe is very pet friendly. We have lots of dog and cat owners. You’ll find that Tahoe is a great place to bring your pet.
Photo from

There are a thousand great places to hike with your dog in the forest.
But first, there are a few caveats. Just like most attractive places in this country, most areas in Tahoe have leash laws, and there are animal control officers to enforce them. Here’s the way it works. At any point, if your dog is off leash, you could get a healthy ticket. But of course, many dog owners have their dogs off-leash much of the time. Although there are no guarantees, the way to avoid a ticket is to stay off meadows because they are especially eco-sensitive (and dogs are expressly forbidden on some meadows), stay off popular hiking and biking trails because that’s where other people are, and stay off beaches.
Animal control officers are human, and some of them have dogs, too. They don’t want to harass those who are off in the woods alone, their dogs running free, when there are no people or other dogs to get stressed by an off-leash dog. If you take your dog into the backwoods, you’ll probably be fine. But if you let your dog run free in a popular area, the animal control officer will be thinking about the last time he saw a little kid get scared by a dog, and the next thing you know, you’ll be paying a significant fine to get your dog out of jail.

Your stay-out-of-trouble insurance

We know people who constantly take their dogs onto forest trails and let them run free without a problem. The key is that they go places and at times when few or no other people are around. If you do that, you will have a great experience.
Having made that point, we also have some great dog-friendly beaches! There is information about those below. But first, let’s get one more dark side of the Tahoe pet experience out of the way.

A Warning About Small Pets
Tahoe has lots of coyotes. They are smart, and they have adapted very successfully to a world of people and their pets. The coyotes think it’s just great that people have come to their Tahoe territory bringing coyote dinner in tow in the form of cats and small dogs. Even fenced yards won’t guarantee safety for your small pet. Every local knows someone who watched as a coyote leaped over their backyard fence, grabbed their cat or Chihuahua or Jack Russell Terrier, and leaped back over the fence and disappeared in the forest.
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Don’t assume your small pet is safe unless it’s indoors or heeling on a leash at your side.
How large does a dog need to be for you to stop worrying about coyotes? Pretty big, actually. I once watched a coyote taunting a Black Lab, trying to get it to follow the coyote into the woods. The Black Lab followed for about fifty yards and then got spooked and retreated. The coyote ran into the woods and joined its pack. The pack members erupted in yipping and howling and yelping. Clearly, they were very upset that the bait-coyote had failed in his mission.
I’ve never heard of anyone losing a dog as big as a Black Lab, but I almost witnessed it myself. So be careful.
Despite coyotes and leash laws, Tahoe really is a great place for pets and for dogs especially. You know how much dogs love the outdoors. We have hundreds of square miles of forest that your dogs can explore.
Now let's get to the beaches you can bring your dog to.

Dog-Friendly Beaches
Many beaches in Tahoe do not allow dogs. At some beaches, like Baldwin Beach on the South Shore, you can’t even bring a dog in your vehicle.
But there are some great beaches that are dog friendly.
One large, dog-friendly beach where dogs can swim is Kiva Beach on the South Shore. But even that beach has leash laws. If your dog is running free there at 6:00 a.m. in the morning, you might be okay. But you can’t count on it.
The following general rule applies and is printed on some signs: If your dog is under complete verbal control and will snap to “heel” despite any tempting distractions, then you should be okay. If not, a leash will prevent a citation.
Photo from

Dogtrekker is a fun link to dog-friendly beaches all around the lake. Remember to read the fine print. At some beaches, dogs aren’t actually allowed in the water. At others, dogs are only allowed on one small portion of the beach or else on the rocks, not the sand. Officially, all dogs must be on leashes at all times.
Note that there is one inaccuracy on the dogtrekker list. Skunk Harbor (a lovely hike and beach) is on the East Shore just north of Spooner Lake, not in Incline Village as listed.
NorthTahoeParks. com lists three dog-friendly beaches on the North Shore. Leashes required.
LakeTahoeGetaways has information on three dog-friendly beaches on the South Shore. Leashes required.
And remember to clean up after your dog.

Kiva Beach on the South Shore is Dog-Friendly!

There is also a good general information website on Dogs in Tahoe here.

There are also a couple of dog parks where your dog can romp with other dogs off-leash.

There are also lots of dog-friendly lodgings, campgrounds, day care, and even restaurants (outdoor patios in the summer). has a substantial list here.
Bring your pet to Tahoe! You and your pet will have a blast.


  1. I really like the content of this blog, feeling great to see such kind of Training dog for a leash

  2. Just what we need is more cops and more rules- Who's cleaning up after the Canadian geese that used to migrate but now cal Tahoe their year round home ?? There's thousands of them and they deficate in and around the lake, while most dogs are going in the forest. I suggest these animal control people go clean up after the geese. As for the dog parks, they're dangerous and not pet friendly. I went twice and both times ran into ignorant owners way over their heads with aggressive dogs- I'm sure many of them weren't healthy and carrying at the least kennel cough and who knows what ?? I am opposed to aggressive dogs running loose- The rest of it isn't needed including $30 year to register a dog !!! Ridiculous and outrageous !!!

    1. All good points, and I appreciate you making them. I've often had to clean my boots after walking where geese hang out (any nice green grass). I don't know what is the best way to deal with geese.
      As for dog parks, like any social situation, one aggressive dog or human can spoil it for all.
      Separate from all that, when it is easy to pick up after your dog, why not do it despite all the geese and other problems? If so, you've helped to prevent making a problem worse.
      As anyone who reads my books knows, I have a real problem with rule makers in general. But that doesn't mean that all rules are bad. Furthermore, except for sensitive beaches and meadows, there are very few rules about dogs in most of Tahoe. Anything that any of us can do to slow the decline of Lake Tahoe is good.
      Thanks very much for posting,

    2. Hey Todd, I live in a large cmplex with lots of surrounding area that I believe is part of the property. The manager has designated certain areas as being off leash. An animal control officer threatened me with a citation. Can that be right?

    3. That's an interesting scenario. I suppose the answer lies in who actually has jurisdiction over the land. Perhaps the city or county laws supersede management rules? In Tahoe, you don't have to leash your dog on your own property or on most forest service land, but you must have active, vocal control over it at all times. So if your unleashed dog were to leave your property for a bit and run up to to a walker and scare that person (as happens constantly to an older small woman I know), the animal control officer has the right to pick it up and issue a citation.
      Of course, animal control officers often have their own dogs. So they understand the issues and are unlikely to hassle you unless your dog has been reported as a problem or the area in general has been reported as a problem. If you are watching your dog... and if you see an animal control officer approach... and you call your dog and it runs to you, the officer is more like to give you a medal than a citation. They constantly have to deal with problems caused by unleashed dogs, so they love it when dogs are under control, by leash or voice.
      Another approach used by dog owners in Tahoe is to walk their dogs where and when other people aren't out. Then there are no complaints, and no officers, either!
      Good luck!