Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, they have kept us company, barked at the mail carrier bringing our packages and even crashed our Zoom meetings.  How have Phoenix’s furry residents been affected during this time of social distancing? Due to countless jobs and classes moving online, many Phoenix residents have had more time to spend at home with their pets.

Nationwide, pets have been gaining the animal version of the “quarantine 15.”  However, this may not be the case for the majority of Phoenix pets.  Many Phoenix dog owners say their animals have become healthier over the course of the pandemic.

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“If anything, I think I’ve had the opposite,” said Dr. Kurt Baumler, a veterinarian at Foothills Animal Hospital.  “People are spending more time with their animals.  They’re walking them more.”

Phoenix pet owner Sade Johnson says her dog Simba is healthier now than he was before the pandemic.  Johnson was “occupied by classes pre-COVID,” but she now has more time to spend with her dog.  With her extra time, she and Simba often take walks and do canine conditioning. 

Looking for more things to do with Fido? Here are five COVID-safe ways to exercise Phoenix pets. 

Local Hikes

Many Phoenix residents keep their dogs active by hiking.  There are several dog friendly hikes in Phoenix such as the Hole in the Rock at Papago Park and the Pima East Loop at South Mountain Preserve. 

According to Dr. Nicole Young, a veterinarian at North Kenilworth Veterinary Care, Phoenix residents should be mindful of the temperature and their pet’s physical abilities when hiking.   She warns to be extra careful with “smushy faced breeds,” as they have difficulty regulating their body temperature. 

Trick Training

Happy pets need mental exercise as well as physical exercise.   An easy way to stimulate dogs’ brains is through trick or obedience training.  Pet owner Kelly Fulcher has been using her time at home to improve her dog’s house manners. 

“When we sit down to eat there’s an ottoman that I like him to go sit on,” said Fulcher.  “So, we trained him that when we sit down to eat that’s where he needs to go.”   

Pet Classes

If Phoenix residents want more guidance in training their dogs, a variety of pet trainers offer COVID safe classes.  The Arizona Humane Society (AHS) offers virtual classes as well as private in-home instruction.  According to ASH’s website, those involved in in-person classes must be masked and socially distant. 

Exploring Phoenix’s Dog Friendly Areas

Getting out of the house for a walk is excellent stimulation for dogs.  RJ Dog Park on Pecos Road and Steele Indian School Dog Park on Indian School Road offer fenced, grassy areas for dogs to run.    

“Sometimes though a simple walk can also provide mental stimulation. Dogs like to check their ‘pee mail,’” said Young.  “In certain situations, for certain dogs, the dog park or doggy day care a few days a week can be another great option.” 

For Phoenix residents who feel comfortable dining out, Phoenix boasts several dog friendly dinning options.  The Main Ingredient, an ale house and cafe on Seventh Street and Virginia Avenue, offers a dog friendly patio.    

Dog Friendly Events

Living up to its position in the top 30 most pet friendly cities as ranked by WalletHub, Phoenix hosts many public dog events.  The Barking Lot puts on a monthly adoption event and pop-up dog park with pet vendors and activities.  According to the event’s Facebook invite, the pop-up dog park will be held outdoors and require masks.  This month, the event will take place on March 6 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Barking Lot PHX on Central Avenue and Bethany Home Road. 

Dog friendly farmers markets are held every Saturday morning in downtown Phoenix on Central Avenue and McKinley Street.  In addition to fresh produce, the open-air farmers market contains pet vendors such as Dogtopia.