Best Dog Friendly Restaurants in Austin

Two happy dogs in a car Jessica Rockowitz

Austin has a reputation as a dog friendly city, and for great reason -- you can bring your dog to many places, including restaurants! While some restaurants are pet friendly in the sense that they allow you to take your dogs onto the patio, others have actual dog parks as part of their facility! If you're seeking the scoop on the best places around the city to dine with your pup, here are five of our favorites that we consider to be some of the best dog friendly restaurants in Austin.

Yard Bar. This incredible place is a restaurant and dog park combo, featuring a full bar and off leash dog park. There are even staff called Bark Rangers that help care for your pup while you enjoy your food and drinks! Day passes are only $5, with monthly and annual memberships also available.

Banger's Sausage House & Beer Garden. Thirty house made sausages, over 100 beers on tap -- and an off leash dog park! There's even a specialty sausage on the menu made especially for dogs. Both you and your pup will love exploring this option.

Moontower Saloon. If you're a live music junkie, this place is a must for you and your dog. They feature live music four days a week, as well as beer, food, and games. They are very dog friendly, but be aware that your pup needs to be kept on a leash at all times.

ABGB (Austin Beer Garden Brewing Company). This great restaurant boasts terrific food, music, and beer -- with a fun, dog friendly twist! Not only is the pizza incredible, but there are even dog biscuits and watering stations for your pup, as well as tons of great outdoor spaces for you both to explore.

Shake Shack. Who doesn't love these delicious burgers and fries? Did you know that they are also dog friendly? Your pup is welcome on the patio, and there's even a delicious Pooch-ini (dog biscuit, peanut butter sauce, and a little custard) on the menu!

What do you think, Austin pet parents? Are any of your regular stops on our list? 


Jessica Rockowitz

About the Author:  Jessica is an East Coast girl recently transplanted to Austin, Texas where she lives with her husband, their three human children, and their rescue fur baby. She is an OB Nurse Educator by background, but has worked as a freelance writer, content manager, and brand strategist for the past few years and loves every minute of it. You can follow her on her personal blog or Instagram profile. 

How to Choose A Doggy Daycare

Best Doggy Daycare in Austin Jessica Rockowitz

Are you considering a doggy daycare for your pup? Perhaps your work schedule is calling for some backup care, or your pet's personality seeks additional socialization and engagement. Doggy daycare serves not only as peace of mind for busy pet owners, but also as an outlet for high energy dogs to play and interact -- regular socialization is so important for dogs! Whatever the case, it is important to keep some key factors in mind when touring and selecting a care setting for your dog. Here are seven of the ones we feel are most important. They will help you choose the best doggy daycare in Austin, or wherever you reside!

  1. Health Protocols. Make sure to select a doggy daycare that requires your pet to have obtained certain vaccinations and a clean bill of health from the vet. This will ensure that your dog is around other healthy pups.
  2. Emergency Vet Care. If something were to occur with your pup, does the daycare have a vet or vet assistant on staff? Or is there a quick way to transfer your pet to his or her veterinarian? This is a great question to ask when you're touring.
  3. Proper Supervision. Just like childcare centers have ratios and levels of care to strive for when caring for children, a good doggy daycare setting will make sure there aren't too many pups to one supervisor. If you have a small dog that is intimidated by larger dogs, consider seeking a facility that separates dogs by size.
  4. Open Communication. Does the facility have cameras where you can pop in and check on your pup whenever you want to? Do you get a rundown of your dog's day when you pick him up? If there is a problem, is the staff prompt about communicating with you? These are all factors to consider when selecting a doggy daycare.
  5. Trial Day. It's always a great idea to select a doggy daycare that requires a trial day where they evaluate your dog's temperament and behavior with other dogs. This shows you that the facility prioritizes the safety of the dogs in their care. It's also a great idea to have your dog stay for a few hours before you commit to purchasing a package so you can see if there are any negative changes when she comes home.
  6. Cleanliness and Safety of Facility. When you tour the doggy daycare, make sure that everything is clean and well-kept. You also don't want any potentially harmful or hazardous materials near the pets. If your dog will be staying the night, take a peek at where the dogs stay when they're boarded. Are they in cages? Do they have a comfortable, temperature controlled room?
  7. Observe the Staff. It is important to choose a facility that employs dog lovers. If the staff members are rough with the dogs, you want to stay away. Make sure you choose a business that will love your dog and dote on her while you're gone.

Remember that every pet and pet owner are unique and will have different requirements when it comes to seeking a doggy daycare. Regardless, these seven factors discussed above should be at the forefront of your mind when you are touring and selecting a doggy daycare for your pup. Whether you are seeking the best doggy daycare in Austin or any surrounding area, it's a great idea to bring a checklist and ensure that the facility is what you're seeking.



Jessica Rockowitz

About the Author: Jessica is an East Coast girl recently transplanted to Austin, Texas where she lives with her husband, their three human children, and their rescue fur baby. She is an OB Nurse Educator by background, but has worked as a freelance writer, content manager, and brand strategist for the past few years and loves every minute of it. You can follow her on her personal blog or Instagram profile. 

How to Choose A Dog Groomer

Best Groomer in Austin Jessica Rockowitz

Your pet is a valued member of the family, so choosing a groomer who will be around your dog with soapy water and sharp grooming instruments can be nerve wracking. Not every groomer is going to be a good fit for every dog, either! Though many dog owners are able to handle a lot of the grooming themselves, there are times when a professional needs to step in. Luckily, we've compiled a great list of tips for you to keep in mind to help you select the best groomer in Austin and beyond.

1. Go By Reputation. Use social media to your advantage and post on a local Facebook group to ask for recommendations. Check out Yelp and Google reviews, too, or ask local friends who they use and love. Hiring a groomer with a good reputation gives you the peace of mind that many have used them before and find them trustworthy.

2. Ask About Experience. Did you know that there's really no extensive training to be a dog groomer? While some groomers do attend professional programs, others don't. This doesn't necessarily mean that they won't do a top notch job, but it's important to inquire about their experience with grooming, as well as with specific breeds and temperaments that match your dog.

3. Cleanliness of Shop. Check out the grooming facility and make sure it is clean and well-kept. Inquire about how instruments are sterilized and see the facilities where the dogs are kept between grooms. You can even bypass this altogether by hiring a mobile dog groomer who can care for your pooch in the safety and comfort of your home!

4. Facility Requirements. Some grooming facilities will require your dog to be up-to-date on specific vaccinations. Consider this a positive thing that these groomers care about the health and wellness of their pets, and not as an annoyance to make an extra vet trip. Some groomers will also require owners to drop off their dogs, while others will not -- your individual comfort with these policies will vary, so choose a groomer whose philosophies align with yours.

5. Positive Communication. Were you treated kindly when you called to make an appointment? Was the shop owner able to adequately answer your questions and give you the information you requested? Choose a groomer with stellar communication skills so you'll feel comfortable leaving your pet with him or her.

6. Pricing and Services. This one's a no brainer, but it's important to choose a groomer with a price point you're comfortable with, as well as who offers the services you're seeking for your dog. Each dog's coat is different, and some groomers might have more experience than others with specific breeds and temperaments.

Do you have another tip that you'd like to share with us? 





Tips for Introducing Your New Baby to Pet


About The Author:

Jessica is an East Coast girl recently transplanted to Austin, Texas where she lives with her husband, their three human children, and their rescue fur baby. She is an OB Nurse Educator by background, but has worked as a freelance writer, content manager, and brand strategist for the past few years and loves every minute of it. You can follow her on her personal blog or Instagram profile. 


Five Great Dog Parks in Austin

Best Dog Parks in AustinGuest Blogger It's no secret that we love the outdoors here in Austin -- and so do our furry friends! A great way to beat the heat in early morning or evening hours is to take your pup to one of Austin's beloved dog parks. Dog parks are a great way to socialize your pup while providing some exercise in a fun, friendly environment. Are you looking for the best dog parks in Austin? We've compiled a list of five favorites around the city:

Auditorium Shores: This outdoor concert venue has terrific trails for hiking and biking and also serves as a great place to watch the Fourth of July fireworks. This park offers an off-leash area for dogs, as well as a place for your dog to cool off in Lady Bird Lake. You can see from the fantastic photos and Yelp reviews that this is a staple for Austin families with furry friends!

Norwood Estate Dog Park: This completely fenced in dog park gives your dog enough free reign to exercise and tire himself out, with the peace of mind that he's secure. This park also boasts a separate area for smaller dogs, too. There's even a water station and ample seating for pet parents, making it a favorite here in Austin.

Red Bud Isle: Does your pup love to get wet? This lakefront, off-leash park offers your dog a chance to stroll along the shore or jump in the river and go for a swim. The only downside to this great dog park can be the parking situation -- in higher peak times, it can be tough to swing a spot.

Bull Creek District Dog Park: This beautiful dog park boasts a waterfall and other terrific swimming areas. It's great for families and dogs that love to get wet! There are also some great hiking spots, and be sure to bring a lunch for a scenic picnic. This hidden gem is even more amazing on a hot Texas summer day.

Zilker Dog Park: This park isn't just for dogs, but there is a designated "off leash" area where they can roam. Bonus: it's shaded and conveniently located near downtown Austin!

Do you have a favorite dog park that wasn't mentioned here? We'd love to hear about it!



About the Author: Jessica is an East Coast girl recently transplanted to Austin, Texas where she lives with her husband, their three human children, and their rescue fur baby. She is an OB Nurse Educator by background, but has worked as a freelance writer, content manager, and brand strategist for the past few years and loves every minute of it. You can follow her on her personal blog or Instagram profile. 

Tips for Introducing Your Dog to Your New Baby

  Tips for Introducing Pet to New Baby

There is nothing quite like your first baby, especially if that precious bundle happens to have four legs and a coat of fur. Caring for a dog can help prepare parents for the responsibilities that go along with new parenthood, but sometimes parents-to-be can feel overwhelmed by the thought of introducing their pet to the new baby. Here are some great tips for a smooth transition:


Plan Ahead

If you haven't had your dog enrolled in obedience or training classes, now is the time to do so. Small behaviors that might seem harmless now, like jumping up onto your lap, can become tougher to handle when you're very pregnant or holding a baby. Try to get your pet familiar with children as much as possible, too. They are tinier and more unpredictable (not to mention louder!) than adults, so taking your dog to a friend's house with small children or to the park to acclimate him or her to small kids can be helpful. Just make sure you're always there to supervise, and be sure to take it slow.

Another important part of planning ahead is knowing who is going to take care of your dog when you go into labor. Do you have a trusted friend or family member who is going to be able to feed and walk your pup? If you're worried about being able to juggle both your dog and a newborn, a doggy daycare environment is a great idea for your pet to get socialization and burn energy while you are acclimating to your new role as a parent. If you're interested in this, start looking early and send your dog somewhat regularly so he or she is accustomed to the environment when your baby arrives.


The First Smell

While you're still in the hospital, consider asking your partner or a trusted friend or family member to bring home a blanket or bodysuit that was used by the baby so your dog can grow accustomed to the smell. When you take your baby home, your dog will recognize his or her scent.

When you first come home, your dog will likely greet you very enthusiastically. When he or she is calm, bring your new baby out of the carrier and sit with them -- then slowly call your dog over. Allow your dog to standby and be part of the action when you're talking to your baby and changing diapers, too. Remember that no matter how docile your dog is, you should never leave your dog and baby unsupervised together.


Set Boundaries.

It's ok to have designated baby gates in your home for areas that you want to declare a pet-free zone for your new baby. Make sure your dog also has plenty of access to his or her own toys and treats so that they're less tempted to chew on baby's items. Teach your baby from a young age to be gentle with your pet, and remember to never leave the two of them together unsupervised.

Do you have any tips that you'd like to share? 


Tips for Introducing Your New Baby to Pet

About the Author: Jessica is an East Coast girl recently transplanted to Austin, Texas where she lives with her husband, their three human children, and their rescue fur baby. She is an OB Nurse Educator by background, but has worked as a freelance writer, content manager, and brand strategist for the past few years and loves every minute of it. You can follow her on her personal blog or Instagram profile. 

Honoring my dog, Ruckus 2003-2014

Today marks one year since a giant piece of my heart just plain fell off. I miss my dog, Ruckus, so very much and think about him every day.  I couldn't be more grateful to have known him and for us to grow up, in many ways, together. He was the first dog I adopted. My husband and I have many incredible memories to hold in our hearts forever as a result of our bond. I am so grateful for the photographs I created of Ruckus and having these images only solidifies the importance of what I do as a pet photographer. They help bring back the details. I cherish them.

I have found that writing has helped me a lot this past year... I've composed this letter from Ruckus' perspective, to me, on the first day we met. I know that all of us suffer when we lose a loved one. I am doing my best to focus on the happy moments. I hope the letter will resonate with someone in need of support today. Ruckus3


Dear Mom,

Thank you for adopting me! I'm excited to spend my life with you. Here are a few things you don't know today but you will, someday.

You don't know now what it's like to raise a puppy, not really. You'll do a good job though and we'll get through the  puppyhood thing together.

You don't know that I picked you as much as you picked me at the shelter today.

You don't know now that I scammed you into thinking I couldn't bark and that I high-fived all of the other dogs on the way out. (You'll find that out later–sorry!)

You don't know now that you'll be forever reminded of me when you see a dog with an under bite.

You don't know now how kind I will be to all of the other animals you adopt into your family.

You don't know now that I will grey prematurely on my muzzle, probably because I am a worrier, just like you.

You don't know now how much I will become your shadow–follow you to the bathroom, down the hall. Like a tap dancer, I'll click, click, click, behind you.

You don't know now how much I will LOVE chasing the ball in the backyard and how eventually, I'll have some problems with my feet and back that will cause me to ride the bench for a while. That'll be hard for both of us.

You don't know now that we'll develop a routine: I'll hop into your bed and snuggle up at night for a few minutes before I head to mine. And in the morning you'll awake to my brown eyes looking back into yours as you rub my soft chest for the AM ritual.

You don't know now how much I will support you when you are having a hard day or fully realize how much you count on me being there for you.

You don't know now, really how much you'll love me and how much I'll love you back.

You don't know now, that when we have to say goodbye, how big the piece of your heart will be that falls onto the emergency clinic's floor. You'll feel you won't survive the sadness and in that moment feel you could never, ever, go through that again.

What you don't know now, is that while that missing piece of your heart will never fully repair, your heart will actually grow larger to make space to love others.

Now go on and enjoy those other fur balls–I know you love me. And I love you too.







My online pet photography class has launched!

Yay! My online pet photography class is now live and available to pet-loving public. I love teaching and when I was contacted by the folks at in partnership with the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops I just couldn't pass this opportunity up. Craftsy has classes in all sorts genres–cake baking, sewing, painting, photography and more. I've really enjoyed the classes I've taken with them and can't wait to participate in more. I prioritize connecting with people and teaching is one way I get to do that... I wouldn't put myself on the other side of the camera (a video camera nonetheless, yikes!) unless I felt strongly about the value of the final product.  Thanks to the incredible production team in Denver, CO. as they worked their butts off and were super committed to making a strong video. We all worked HARD and put a lot of of thought into what would bring the most impact into your lives, so here you go!  The class has 7 video lessons with anytime, anywhere access, class materials, hours of close-up instruction and I get to answers questions and review student images via their virtual classroom.


Thank you for continuing to be part of my community as I continue to pursue projects that are near to my heart. I've had a busy few months working on this project and also just got back from teaching pet photography (my 5th season!) at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops– always a true honor to be part of that world.

I invite you to join me in the classroom. Here is a $10 off coupon link for to my class...  Here's a link to the trailer for the class!


More detailed description about the class and what to expect...

In this class, you'll learn how to pose your subjects, work with pets of all colors, and incorporate adults and children into your shoots. To begin, find out how to build your camera kit, scout the perfect location and pose your furry subjects with ease. And remember, you can watch each of these lessons at your own pace and return to techniques as many times as you wish, since this class is yours forever. So, take your time, have fun and learn when it's convenient for you.

Pet Portraits: A deeper understanding of composition, light and color will help you to shoot visually striking photographs. So, in this lesson, explore the essentials of composition, and find out how to frame your shots for impact and allure. Plus, I'll share tried–and–true tips for harnessing light and using color to make your images stand out.

Proper Exposure: In our next lesson, we throw out the idea that some animals are harder to photograph than others. Find out how to achieve the proper exposure every time, whether shooting a black lab or a white poodle, and learn insider techniques for adjusting ISO, shutter speed and aperture. Then, discover how to capture light– and dark–colored pets with tricky contrasting backgrounds. Great cat photos:

Cats: The cat's out of the bag — and successfully into your photo — in our next lesson. Find out how to work with feline subjects using a few simple tricks for grabbing their attention. Then, explore creative new ways to capture each cat's personality purrr–fectly. I'll even show you several ways to use window light for eye–catching images.

People and Pets: Once you've become comfortable with the essentials of photographing pets, we'll add a new element to your shots: humans! I'll share step–by–step instruction for composing authentic, natural–looking portraits of people with their furry friends. Plus, from posing to playing, find out how to capture beautiful, meaningful moments with every shot.

Adults are one thing, but photographing children with their pets is a totally different experience. Up next, discover posing techniques for both older and younger children. I'll show you how to capture subjects that are on the move, and we'll shoot in open shade, for soft, lovely results.