Chicago is a great dog-friendly city. During my recent visit I discovered many reasons why it constantly gets ranked in the top ten best cities to take your dog (dogfriendly.com). My daughter recently moved into an apartment in downtown Chicago and will be dog sitting our family puppy Brinkley while the rest of the family continue to globetrot. I am sure we will be researching this subject even further over the coming months. But here are my top 5 reasons Chicago is a dog-friendly city.

    5 reasons chicago is a dog friendly city

    Places to visit with your dog


    Chicago has a number of off-leash dog parks.  Sadly these are unsuitable for visiting dogs to use, as they require owners to have a permit. However, don’t let that deter you as there are plenty of open spaces where the dogs can have fun. There are dog friendly areas designated within the Chicago parks and along the beach. Many of the sites also provide features such as separate areas for shy dogs, doggie drinking fountains, trash receptacles, and extra doggie bags. The Chicago Park District website provides a full list of locations.


    BringFido.com offers a list of 38 dog friendly attractions that you can enjoy while in Chicago. This list provides information about shops that allow dogs to enter such as Nordstrom and Crate & Barrel, companies such as Kayak Chicago that welcome pets to join in the fun, and the Seadog Cruises that offers a variety of tours to view the windy city from the water.

    5 reasons chicago is a dog friendly city

    Pet shops to stock up on supplies


    When we researched pet supplies near to our apartment in the River North neighborhood we were a little surprised at just how many options we had. We have visited two so far and I must say they were amazing, but could prove very dangerous for our bank accounts. Both stores were clearly owned by complete dog lovers who were knowledgeable on their product offerings, extremely enthusiastic to help us make selections, and eager to meet our puppy.


    5 reasons chicago is a dog friendly city


    As it was recently Brinkley’s birthday we decided to buy the birthday girl a few treats. We began with a doggie birthday cake, a party hat, and a Chewy Vuitton squeaky toy. We took simply ages to decide what to pick as the shop was just filled with so many fun items. For Dogs Sake had a huge selection of dog food and treats on offer plus the largest wall of dog collars ever. Tails in the City had an adorable selection of doggie clothes and I’m sure Brinkley will be sporting something warm from this store once the Chicago winter rolls in.

    5 reasons chicago is a dog friendly city

    Doggy dining with their own menu


    While some restaurants have been happy for owners dogs to tag along to their outdoor seating area for sometime, restaurants are actually able to make it legal now and file for a permit to allow dogs in their outdoor areas. As you walk around the city you will notice some restaurants even offer special doggie menus. We recently enjoyed a meal at Freestyle Drink & Food where we noticed a $10 menu complete with doggie treat, bed, and water bowl.


    I would suggest that if you are planning on taking your dog to a restaurant then call ahead and check that the rules have not changed at that particular establishment. But if you are looking for a few good options, then check out this article on BringFido.com for their best selections.

    5 reasons chicago is a dog friendly city
    Photo credit

    Plenty of playmates out and about


    While Brinkley has enjoyed a little socializing with other dogs while out for walks in Houston, (usually growling or cowering away actually) nothing prepared us for the sheer number of dogs that are out and about in Chicago. The 4 or 5 block walk to the nearest park from my daughters apartment can take quite some time due to the number of other dogs we run into.


    Once at the park, Brinkley has the best time running around with all shapes and sizes of dogs. This also proved quite good exercise for my daughter as she held tightly to Brinkley’s lead as she dashed around the park. Dog owners stopped to chat, threw balls for the dogs to chase, and were happy to share doggie water bowls – it all reminded me of a scene from an uplifting family movie. Dog owners sure seem friendly in this city. Might I suggest that if you are in need of meeting people, then get a dog.


    5 reasons chicago is a dog friendly city
    Photo Credit

    Hotels that love pets


    If visiting Chicago and in need of a hotel that is pet friendly, then check out this list of the Top 10 Pet Friendly Hotels in Chicago compiled by TripAdvisor. While there are many hotels on offer, some go one step further to ensure their four legged guests thoroughly enjoy their stay. Packages can include doggy room service, doggy beds complete with a range of toys, and special doggy menus. Dog friendly hotels can also find you a pet sitter if needed.


    If you are renting an AIRBNB that is dog friendly, then check with the owners about what facilities they have on offer. I was impressed how the high-rise apartments have become so pet friendly with many providing specific dog areas. One apartment complex we visited even had a dog washroom built in the basement area complete with doggie hairdryer that rivaled any groomer I have seen.


    Is your city pet-friendly? If so, what are the best features? Please share your comments in the section below.


    Happy travels for you and your four-legged friends.


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      • Love the fact that there are restaurants with a menu for the doggies too! That’s pretty cool!

      • It sounds like there are a lot of wonderful things for dogs in Chicago to do! I think it is great that there are hotels that are pet-friendly as well 😀

      • I love the restaurant menu for dogs! And the “chewy vuitton” toy – very cute!

        • Sue says:

          The shop Tails in the City was so cute, we spent ages trying to decide between a ‘Barkin’ Bag, a ‘Pawda’ or a ‘Hairmes’ purse squeaky toys Im sure we will go back many times

      • Karilyn says:

        i love that there are menu’s for dogs!

        And ao interesting that some of the off leash areas require permits!! I wonder why they do that? In LA people love their dogs and take them everywhere but there are very few off leash areas sadly.

        • Sue says:

          For such a pet friendly city, I was little surprised that there weren’t more actual doggie parts of the park. Many of the owners let their dogs off for a short time in the park but our puppy is so excited by all the squirrels that if we let her off we would probably never catch her again! Time for some puppy training I think.

      • Meg Jerrard says:

        The US is definitely a fantastic destination for pet lovers who can’t stand to leave their pets at home – I even noticed an increase of people flying domestically throughout the US with their dogs and cats in the actually cabin. Kayaking with your dog sounds really fun, I had never thought of that before!! We actually have an inflatable kayak we usually use – I may have to join a proper tour or purchase a proper one before I let my pup onboard with us. I can forsee puncture holes and a sinking ship haha :D!

        Thanks for the great info!

        • Sue says:

          Yes, we flew with our puppy, Brinkley, to Chicago and she seemed to enjoy all the attention she got from everyone. Brinkley is very scared of the water at the moment so Im not sure a kayak would be a positive experience for her, but we are hoping that the more she sees the lake water that she will eventually get comfortable. Glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

      • Mallory says:

        Love this! What a great idea to have doggy meals at restaurants. It’s so stupid some places do not allow dogs, even on the outside of a patio railing.

        • Sue says:

          In a city like chicago, any restaurant with an outside patio would be crazy not to have a doggie menu as there are just so many pet lovers wandering around. I wish other cities would follow. I found NY to be quite dog friendly as well actually but not so much my hometown of Houston

      • The doggie menu is awesome! They have a cafe near me that has a little play area for dogs when you come to get your coffee, etc. pretty neat!

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