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.
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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.
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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.
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 Renotahoedogs.com|
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.
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). GoTahoeNorth.com has a substantial list here.
Bring your pet to Tahoe! You and your pet will have a blast.