Your Dog Will Love Portland, Oregon

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The Portland, Oregon waterfront.
The Portland waterfront.

Walk On, Fido: A Guide to Dog-Friendly Portland, Oregon

By Jane R. Stevenson

dog-friendly Portland, Oregon
Things to do with dogs in Portland, OR. Ozzie and his owner enjoy the rare Portland sun

“Walk” is a four-letter word in my household. My family and I spell it out, say it in Spanish, and do whatever it takes to avoid its usage in the presence of our dog.

If we do happen to utter the fateful word, our energetic poodle, Ozzie, will be sure to follow us around the house relentlessly until we grudgingly leash up and take him outside.

We are not the only family to have banned the free use of this word, for most other dog owners in Portland, Oregon, are burdened with the same dog-walking condition.

A canine’s need for constant activity can certainly be credited to their innate desire for exercise, but also to the enticing thrill of the various parks that lie in Portland and the surrounding area.

From the squirrel-infested trails at Forest Park to abandoned fields in quaint Northeast neighborhoods like Laurelhurst, Portland’s dog owners and their respective pets are pampered with the luxury of choice.

My family’s love for outdoor activity has only worsened Ozzie’s condition, making it impossible for him to settle for the typical walk around the block. Thankfully, Portland provides many solutions to this common dog walker’s dilemma.

Historic Architecture

For those who admire historical architecture and landscaping, Northeast Portland offers dog-walking routes that pass numerous colonial houses decorated tastefully with turrets and unruly ivy.

Tucked in between these mansions are hidden stairways overgrown with wildflowers and shrubbery.

At the top of these passageways, breathtaking views will cause walkers to pause before being pulled down the stairs by their curious dogs. The pristine houses at the base of the stairs, with their manicured lawns and stylish design, will be sure to incite envy and awe.

For those who seek challenge and exercise, the hills of Southwest Portland provide scenic inclines that look out over of the metropolitan area. The Marquam trail, in particular, leads dog walkers through various parks and back roads, finishing at the highest point in Portland — Council Crest.

The view from Council Crest. Photos by Mark Stevenson.
The view from Council Crest. Photos by Mark Stevenson.

From the top of the hill lies the rare panoramic view of Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Jefferson, and Mt. Rainier, along with downtown and the winding Willamette River.

A portion of grass is available for off-leash dogs to run free during certain hours of the day and benches are ready for those tired from the elevation gain.

A Popular Getaway

For a day trip outside the city, Sauvie’s Island hosts a wide array of beaches and fields for play and exploration.

Only a thirty-minute drive from Portland, the island provides scenic bike and walking paths and a popular getaway from urban life.

Here, dog’s can reconnect with their canine instincts while doggy paddling through lazy rivers or rustling birds amid overgrown fields. Owners will enjoy the local scenery of farms and country stores that sell fresh vegetables and organic fruits handpicked from neighboring orchards.

Any Dog’s Heaven

Several Portland parks such as Sellwood, Fernhill, and Mr. Tabor are popular locations for running and dog playdates. However, my family prefers the community of Wilshire. This expansive, 14-acre park is any dog’s heaven, complete with an abundant supply of squirrels and fellow dogs for sniffing.

Ozzie socializes with fellow dogs at Wilshire Park in Northeast Portland.
Ozzie socializes with fellow dogs at Wilshire Park in Northeast Portland.

This is where Ozzie chased his first squirrel, caught his first ball, and learned to respond to his name. Along with many other Portland dogs, Wilshire is Ozzie’s second home.

The dog park is full of regulars that visit Wilshire nearly every day. One dog owner, Nick Jensen, has frequented Wilshire every morning for the past five years to give his equally energetic German Shepards some exercise before work.

Nick chooses Wilshire as his regular dog-park due to the proximity to his home and for the welcoming community. As he says, “There is always a face to recognize.”

Great Place to Own a Dog

One of those faces belongs to Tom Ellicott, who moved here in 1976 from Manhattan. He counts the years he has been visiting Wilshire in dogs. He has adopted three “children” since his move to Portland, including a happy little Chow puppy he named Sho. Tom walks Sho throughout Portland and claims that the city is “one of the best places to be a dog-owner.”

And indeed it is. Aside from outdoor activity, Portland canines are spoiled with services of every caliber, including hotels, grooming salons, and upscale boutiques.

Ozzie chases a ball on one of the many beaches of Sauvie Island, located just outside of Portland.
Ozzie chases a ball on one of the many beaches of Sauvie Island, located just outside of Portland.

Pet bakeries, like Cheeky Kiki, boast gourmet treats, while doggy social centers, like Lexi Dog Boutique, host birthday parties and even salon appointments.

If visiting Portland and wanting some time to explore the city without Fido at your heel, there are several doggy daycare centers available for a quick drop off as well.

By walking our dogs through the back streets of neighborhoods or the trails of Forest Park, we are reminded of our own humanity; of our desire for play and for relationships, of our need for a departure from the hustle of daily life.

Although Portland is packed with fancy restaurants and colorful theaters, dog walking is some of the last free leisure our city has left. So explore the rugged Northwest through the eyes of a metropolitan dog. You will receive a taste of the Portland I know, the Portland Ozzie knows, the Portland so many dog lovers call home.

Views from the top of hidden passageways along Alameda Ridge
Views from the top of hidden passageways along Alameda Ridge

Further Information

How to Get There:

The Portland International Airport is located just twenty minutes from downtown Portland. Take a taxi or public transportation from the airport to reach your hotel of choice. Call Portland Taxi Cab Company at (503)256-5400 or visit to find bus routes, schedules, and fees.

Where To Stay:

Hotel Vintage Plaza
422 SW Broadway
Portland, OR 97205

This pet-friendly hotel welcomes all dogs to their luxury lodging experience for no extra charge. Amenities include pet beds, a placemat, food and water bowls, and toys for play. A Lap of Luxury Pet Package is available for purchase, which includes a doggie gift box along with vouchers for local pet retail services.

Dogs are allowed to accompany their owners to wine tasting and are treated like guests themselves. Beginning at $159 a night, queen and king bedrooms are available for reservations. Call (800) 263-2305 for more information.

Motel 6
518 Ne Holladay St.
Portland, Oregon 97232

Historic houses line the streets of Northeast Portland
Historic houses line the streets of Northeast Portland

Pets stay free at this hotel located just minutes from downtown and the Rose Garden. Beginning at $50 a night, you and your pooch will receive special amenities, such as free wi-fi, cable, and morning coffee. For reservations and more information call 503-234-4391.

Where to Eat:

The Tin Shed Garden Café (or known to the locals simply as “The Tin Shed”)
1438 NE Alberta St.
Portland, Oregon, 97211?

Take a walk down eclectic Alberta street and grab a bite to eat at this delicious café. For fewer than ten dollars, you can get classic American foods, such as mac and cheese and potato pancakes. Dogs are allowed at outside tables, covered by, you guessed it, tin roofing.

214 SW Broadway
Portland, OR 97205
(503) 241-3393

This pan-Asian and Pacific Island cuisine provide tasty food and happy hour beverages at affordable prices. Well-behaved dogs are allowed at outside tables. Entrees range from $16-28.

What to Do:

Wilshire Park
NE 33rd Ave and Skidmore
Portland, OR, 97212
For off-leash dog hours look online at

Council Crest

This 3.9-mile round trip hike begins at the Terwilliger Boulevard Trailhead. Look online for further directions and park hours.

Sauvie’s Island
15000 NW Sauvie Island Rd
Portland, OR 97231

Be sure to check out Warrior Rock Lighthouse and the local beaches.

Ozzie peeks through fields of wildgrass on Sauvie Island.
Ozzie peeks through fields of wild grass on Sauvie Island.

Lexi Dog Boutique and Social Club
416 NW 10th Ave.
Portland, OR 97209
503.243.6200 (voice)
503.243.6300 (fax)

Spoil your dog with a day at the spa or a playgroup. Prices vary upon activity.

What To Bring:

Don’t forget a raincoat for the frequent winter downpours, a plastic bag for cleaning up, a tennis ball for throwing, and a towel to keep your car or hotel room clean.

Contact Information:

Nick Jensen
Tom Ellicott

Jane R. StevensonJane R. Stevenson is a journalism student at the University of Oregon.