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. 

Heat Stroke: How to Protect Your Pet

Preventing Heat Stroke in Pets It’s that time of year again! As the temperatures climb here in Austin, so does the risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke in our canine friends. We all want to get out there and enjoy that nice weather, and even when it gets hotter -- we don’t want to abandon our exercise routines we’ve worked so hard to stick to. However, it is important to be very careful with your dog during these warmer months.

Causes and Risk Factors

Your dog doesn’t tolerate heat in the same way you do. While we perspire across our entire bodies, dogs primarily cool themselves through panting. When we begin to feel faint as humans, it signals us to slow down. Our dogs, however, are often so excited to follow and keep up with us, that they might not realize when they're feeling a little run down from the heat.

A dog can get overheated even when the ambient temperature is below their body temperature, simply from of all the heat they generate through activity -- the hotter it is, the higher the risk. Even when a dog is not very active, very high temperatures in cars left off or simply in the backyard can sometimes cause major problems. By the way, it is also important to be aware of the temperature of the ground when you are out with your dog, as they can burn their pads on hot pavement or sidewalks.

Other than ambient temperature, the single most important risk factor for heat stroke is breed and conformation. If your pet is brachycephalic (a breed with a short nose or flat face) such as a pug or a boxer, you need to be very cautious and only let your pet exercise outside when it is cool, such as early in the morning. Of all the pets I’ve treated for heat stroke, the vast majority of them have been these breeds.

Finally, obese and overweight pets are also at increased risk for heat stroke. All that extra insulation makes it tougher to get rid of heat, and fat can also constrict the respiratory system making it less efficient. This directly impacts a dog's ability to exchange heat by panting.

Signs of a Problem

The signs of heat stroke include a pet who is beginning to pant more than usual or harder than usual, and will continue to pant, even when calmed down.  As the problem progresses, a dog experiencing heat stroke will become less active and be reluctant to walk or move. Eventually these pets become completely unable to walk or even stand -- they will just pant.

As their body temperatures warm, pets suffering from heat stroke will go through a cascade of internal events. All of the enzymes and organs in your pet’s body are designed to operate at a particular temperature and pH.  When that temperature is exceeded in heat stroke, your pet will undergo multiple organ failure and severe brain damage. Ultimately this can lead quite quickly to death.  Even if a pet survives severe heat stroke, permanent brain or organ damage can occur.

How to Prevent Heat Stroke

Avoid walking or especially running your dog during the heat of day in the summer, late spring, and early autumn. When you do go on walks, bring along water for your pet. Because pets cool off by panting, they lose a large amount of water and moisture and need to stay hydrated. There are many fold-able dog dishes that can fit in your pocket that are commercially available.

Of course, you should be extra careful about taking out short-nosed breeds at any time other than the very early morning. Even then, pay very close attention to how your pet is doing. I can't stress enough just how fragile the respiratory tracts of boxers, pugs, French bulldogs, English bulldogs, and other short-nosed breeds are.

Keep your pet at a healthy weight. Exercise is obviously very important, but don't forget that the majority of weight-control is going to come in the form of dietary management. At a healthy weight, you pet will be able to cool off more efficiently.

Never leave your dog unattended in a parked car. Even with the windows cracked, these vehicles can easily exceed the atmospheric temperature by a great deal. It is amazing how quickly this can cause severe and often fatal heat stroke in pets (and humans, for that matter).

Finally, always be on the lookout for the early signs of heat stroke so you can stop it before it becomes life-threatening. If you notice your pet slowing down or panting more than usual, take a break in the shade. Offer your pet some water and give her a rest.  Once she has calmed down and gotten her energy back and her panting under control, head back home.

Exercise is great for your pet's health and your own.  Don't give up on it all together, but be smart about it and your canine friend will thank you.



Preventing Heat Stroke in Pets

About the Author:

Casey Hill, DVM, cVMA

Dr. Casey Hill, the Doorstep Vet, graduated from veterinary school in 2010 at Virginia Tech. Upon graduation she moved to Austin with her husband, Christian, and two cats. Since that time she has been working to keep the pets of Austin happy and healthy. She has worked as a traditional cat, dog, and exotics practitioner but now concentrates on her housecall work with Doorstep Vet. Dr. Hill's acupuncture training was completed in 2016 in Fort Collins, Colorado and she is excited to offer this valuable modality to her housecall patients. You can also follow her on Facebook!


Raising Awareness of Pet Cancer in Honor of National Pet Cancer Awareness Month

In honor of National Pet Cancer Awareness month, I want to pay tribute to a couple of animals that I know personally who were affected by it. I realize this isn’t a happy subject, but these words come straight from my heart. In fact, I’m already crying as I write this paragraph.

Cancer sucks. Period. Whether you’re a dog, cat, elephant or human. My heart goes out to anyone currently facing it on any level.

I’ve been thinking about what an “awareness” for pet cancer looks like -- I’ve decided that for me, right now, it’s an opportunity to honor those we’ve lost to the disease, as well as to make a call for action regarding support for programs that continue to fight and treat it.

As a family, we’ve lost many animals to cancer over the last several years. I know that I am not alone in this.

In 2014, I was brought to my knees when I learned that my sweet, stinky-breathed-under-bite-sporting mutt, Ruckus had an inoperable tumor that had burst on his spine. I felt extremely helpless and wished I had been able to help him. I was told there was nothing I could do and very sadly, we had to say goodbye to our friend.

In the weeks and months that followed  -- even years later -- it was difficult to accept that the photographs I had of Ruckus were my last. But I’ll tell you what, I cherish the hell out of those images, as they are visual reminders of the love that I have in my heart for him. I miss that guy.

I recently had the opportunity to meet Moose and his parents, Gedy and Eric. Moose had been adopted as an adult dog and shortly after his adoption, his pet parents learned that Moose had a tumor on his heart. Eric and Gedy gave Moose the life. They took him to the park, for car rides, gave him unlimited belly rubs, treats, and unconditional love and care– the royal treatment. Moose even had hospice care with Dr. Casey Hill here in Austin. How amazing.

I had the privilege of photographing Moose at his home, in his car, and at his favorite park in Austin with his mom and dad. It was a special day for me, and I know that it was also a special day for the three of them.

Photographing pets who are diagnosed with an illness -- most often cancer --  is something that I feel honored to do. These situations are certainly not easy, but being able to offer value on an impactful, emotional level is one of my favorites parts of being a photographer.

I am sending much love and support to anyone who has lost a pet to cancer or who is currently struggling with it on any level. This month and every month, let’s stay as present as we can with those we love, support the care of animals and people in need, and continue to surround ourselves with fur babies.

A couple of resources:

I love the Blue Buffalo Foundation.

Their mission is “to raise awareness and funds so that universities and clinics can research the #1 disease-related killer of our beloved pets, find effective treatments and a cure, and help families get the care their pets need.” I just donated, and I hope you will also consider donating.

When my husband and I lived in Santa Fe, NM our dog Max went through cancer treatment and was fortunately able to be part of a clinical trial there. We loved the care and support he received at Veterinary Cancer Care.

Which resources do you value for bringing awareness and support to the pet cancer and pet cancer awareness?

Raising Awareness of Pet Cancer

Including Your Pet in Family Portraits

If you’re anything like me, your pets are part of your family. You count on them for support, you’re there for them when they need you, and you’d do anything for them. Therefore, why wouldn’t you choose to include your pets in your professional family portrait sessions? I love when I receive an inquiry from a client who is interested in including their pets in their session -- over my nearly 15 years as a professional, I have received requests to include pets in various situations and for all occasions. Pets bring joy to any portrait session, and anyone I photograph with their pet is more relaxed in front of the camera. Here are some ideas for ways you can include pets in your next portrait session:

  • Maternity Sessions – I often hear from new and expecting parents that their pet is their first baby. Including your dog or cat in a maternity session can be a fun way to creatively document the expansion of your family. Not every image has to include your fur babies, but you’ll be thankful that you decided to have Max part of this momentous stage of your life.
  • Newborn Sessions – I love photographing lifestyle images of families welcoming their new precious babies into their lives and homes. This is a time where your home and dynamics are making huge shifts. Honoring this time with professional photographs -- your fur babies included! -- is something you won’t regret.
  • Your Very First Pet – All pets leave their mark on our hearts. Having said this, you will never have a second “first” pet as an adult. My dog, Ruckus, was my very first dog and the photographs I have of the two of us together couldn’t be more precious.
  • With Your Children – the children I often photograph have always considered their pet to be like a sibling to them. How sweet is it to include pictures of them together? Perhaps you could to have them photographed playing or cuddling together, or engaged in their favorite activity. These moments are fleeting and leave a mark on all of us.
  • Family vacation – taking a trip to Tahiti on your private jet with Fido? Take me and let me document the whole thing. You won’t regret it, I promise.


Including Pet in Family PortraitsIncluding Pets in Family PortraitsIncorporate Pets in Family PortraitsIncorporate Pets in Family Portraits What are your favorite ways to incorporate your pets into your family portraits? 


Norah Levine has been a professional portrait photographer for nearly 15 years. She is also an author, photo educator, fine artist, and pet mama living in Austin, Texas. Her book, “Pet Photography” can be purchased at AMAZON or Rocky Nook publishing She also has online courses via CreativeLive and Craftsy Her fine art can be viewed on Etsy Inquire directly for learning opportunities, fine art commissions/purchases, and portrait sessions.

5 Reasons Why Having A Pet is Good For Your Health

There are many benefits to animals for residing with us in our homes, but did you know that having a pet is also good for your health? Unconditional love and companionship in and of itself is accompanied by many benefits, but there are other reasons why owning a pet can give you a health boost! Mental and emotional improvements are just a couple of them -- check out the following five ways that owning a pet might be beneficial to your health. Some of them might surprise you!

1. Lower rates of depression. It might not come as a surprise that owning a pet increases a person’s sense of purpose. This can be integral for someone feeling depressed or who is lacking interest in their usual activities. Pet Therapy exists for a reason! Owning a pet might help you conquer depression and general feelings of being down.

2. Decreased risk of allergies. It might seem counterintuitive, but spending time with pets has been shown to lower a child’s risk of developing allergies. Other studies show that children exposed to pets early on in life tend to have more stealthy immune systems overall. Having healthier kids is always a win!

3. Higher social interaction. Did you know that there are meet-up groups geared towards pet parents of all different types of animals? Yes, even turtles. Getting out of the house to walk your dog or take him or her to the dog park also gives you more opportunities to interact with others. Humans are naturally social creatures, and a lot of people find that their social lives and networks naturally increase as a result of being a pet parent.

4. Increased physical activity. If you’re a dog owner, you’re more likely to get outside and throw a frisbee, go for a run, or even just take a walk around the neighborhood. The cardio boost will bring other benefits, such as increased heart health, lower blood pressure, and decreased cholesterol levels.

5. Lower stress levels. Having a sense of purpose combined with increased physical activity and social interaction can have some fantastic benefits, the main one being decreased stress levels! Lowering cortisol has a profound impact on your overall health and well-being.

What do you think, pet parents? Were you surprised by these benefits?


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.