If you’ve been in Colorado for long, you’ve probably realized that the Centennial State is one of the most dog-loving places in the country. That being said, there are a few things every Colorado dog owner should know. Did we skip something on this list? Let us know in the comments.

1. Clean Up that Poop

The “pack it in, pack it out” rule applies to canines, too. If your dog poops on the trail, don’t leave it behind. A common misconception is that dog poop won’t hurt the environment because a dog is an animal, but this is wrong. Dog poop carries different nutrients than wildlife poop, including excess nitrogen. Introduction of these ingredients can result in unstable conditions within a specific environment. One frequently observed side effect of this unstable environment is the easier growth and spread of invasive weed species.

2. Some Places Have Breed Bans

While Colorado is dog-friendly toward most breeds, some breeds have very strict rules that prevent residents from keeping them as pets in certain areas. Most of the bans are in the Denver area, typically aimed at breeds that have been deemed to be “aggressive,” such as pit bulls, wolf hybrids, and bulldogs. Here’s a full list of the bans. While many feel these bans are unjust, they are still important to follow. If one gets caught with an illegal breed in a place where that breed is banned, it often results in authorities automatically putting the dog down.

3. Don’t Let Dogs Chase Wildlife

This is a big no-no for several reasons. First, dogs can be injured by a lot of the big game in Colorado, such as moose and elk. These animals instinctively consider wolves a natural enemy, meaning they’re likely to get aggressive with energetic dogs for obvious reasons. Second, allowing dogs to chase animals is considered “harassing wildlife,” something that can carry a fine of more than $1,000. It stresses out the wildlife and can often lead to heart attacks due to stress. Third, when animals chase wildlife, it often takes them far off trail. Not only can this have an impact on the environment, it can also increase a dog’s risk of encountering infected ticks and deadly rattlesnakes.

4. Be Aware of Leash Laws

Sometimes, dogs can be off-leash in Colorado. Other times, they can’t. Know the rules of the trail prior to embarking on a hike, especially if you’re planning to take your pup off-leash. Following the leash laws protects the environment, others on the trail, and your pup. If you really want your pup to be off-leash, find one of the many off-leash dog parks in Colorado. One of our favorites is Bear Creek Dog Park in Colorado Springs.

5. Dogs Can’t Go on Every Trail

Aside from simply following leash laws, be aware of where dogs are never allowed. Certain trails like the Manitou Incline and Hanging Lake don’t allow dogs at all – the Incline for traffic reasons and Hanging Lake due to a fragile environment. Don’t assume that simply because it’s somewhere outside your dog can be there.

6. Dogs Shouldn’t Always Drink the Water

As you’re hiking around Colorado with your pup, you’re sure to find tons of water. From creeks to lakes to waterfalls, water in Colorado can vary greatly in safety. Just because it’s “fresh” mountain water doesn’t mean it’s clear of bacteria and microbes. Be wary of letting your pup drink water you happen to come across, as this practice can result in serious sickness. It’s always best to bring your own water and bowl that you know is safe along for the hike instead.

BONUS: The Official State Dog is “the Adopted Dog”

Before you buy a dog from a pet store or breeder, consider adoption – Colorado has plenty of options. In 2013, Governor John Hickenlooper actually signed a bill that named “the shelter pet” as the official state pet of Colorado. There are few better ways to celebrate life in the Centennial State than by giving an adoptable pup a home.


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