The Most Dog-Friendly States for People Who Love to Take Their Pup Outdoors

United States Pets Outdoor
by Katie Scott Aiton May 28, 2024

For pet owners who love to explore the outdoors with their canine companions, choosing a destination that caters to animals and welcomes them with open arms is paramount. After all, dogs should come on family vacations, too. Logistics, however, often makes this difficult. From finding a pet-friendly hotel to understanding the rules of our national park system, there’s a lot to navigate. But if you’re considering skipping the kennel this summer, you might consider a beach getaway to Rhode Island, which has just been named the best place in the US for dogs.

Showsight Magazine looked at multiple factors to identify the most dog-friendly states. The study focused on the number of dog-related services available per 1,000 square miles. This included access to doggy daycare, pet stores, groomers, and veterinarians, as well as laws against dog theft. The study concluded that not only is the state the best, but it also has the most opportunities for outdoor recreation with your pup.

The publication awarded Rhode Island top place with a score of 9.29 out of 10. Rhode Island has the highest concentration of dog-friendly establishments per square mile in the US. This means you’ll always be close to a restaurant with a welcoming outdoor patio where your pup can join you for a bite or a store stocked with toys and treats.

Cliff walk trail Newport Rhode Island the most dog friendly states

Photo: Yingna Cai/Shutterstock

With over 400 miles of coastline, the state also has nine beaches where your dog can join you for a day on the sand. And numerous parks and hiking trails cater to leash-etiquette-adhering dogs, providing opportunities to get outdoors together. Rhode Island is also one of 15 states (including California, New Hampshire, and Texas) that have laws against dog theft.

Connecticut took second place with a score of 8.93 out of 10. Specifically, the state came in third for activities and services and fourth for facilities. Delaware came in third place, followed by New Hampshire and North Carolina.

The most dog-friendly states in the US

  • Rhode Island — 9.29
  • Connecticut — 8.93
  • Delaware — 8.83
  • New Hampshire — 8.22
  • North Carolina — 7.45
  • Virginia — 7.30
  • New York — 7.19
  • New Jersey — 7.15
  • Massachusetts — 7.14
  • Maryland — 6.74

The data also indicated that some states are not so well-suited to pups. Alaska came first as the least dog-friendly state in the US, scoring 0.00. It was followed by North Dakota (0.25), Montana (0.36), and Wyoming (0.46). States with sprawling landscapes might seem like paradises for outdoor adventures with your pup, but they have a lower concentration of services — fewer dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, stores, and no legal protections against theft.

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