Moab’s sustainability director, Rosemarie Russo, holds the leash for Esty Pinto (right). [Photo by Murice D. Miller / Moab Sun News]

Spring is here and that means it’s time to head out with your furry friends to explore the outdoors. What a better place than Moab?

The Moab area is known to be one of the desert’s most beautiful places to visit and many of the businesses are pet-friendly. But Utah presents a special set of challenges that you should be familiar with before embarking on adventures with your dogs in Moab.


Within city limits, there are regulations about where your dog can go with you.

Animals have to be leashed everywhere in the City of Moab, and are not allowed in the main city parks. Most businesses in town don’t mind visits from four-legged companions, but restaurants have health codes to comply with and dogs are not allowed inside unless they are a certified service animal.

That doesn’t mean you should leave your dogs in your car while you eat in a restaurant, though.

During the summer months, the temperature outdoors can reach over a hundred degrees and the inside of a car acts like a big solar oven, reaching up to 130 degrees. Restaurant workers in Moab know this, so ask for a porch seat. You can enjoy your meal outside while keeping your pooch safe and cool.

But you didn’t come to Moab just to eat.


Jessica Turquette, resident animal expert and owner of Moab Barkery, knows how to help you with the unique challenges the desert presents for your dog.

“Don’t worry about not being able to go in the parks; the parks aren’t the cool part of Moab,” she said. “Get outside the city. Anytime you’re outside the city, your dog does need to be under voice command, but they can be off-leash.”

Dogs are not allowed on the trails in Arches or Canyonlands national parks, but everywhere else is free game, such as on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Designated trails at Grandstaff Canyon, Mill Creek Canyon and Hidden Valley are dog-friendly. On Kane Creek Boulevard, Potash Road or state Route 128, you can find hiking trails and camping areas for you and your pet.

Once you decide which trails to adventure on with your dog, there are a few things you should know. Dogs need sunscreen, too. Put some on their noses to keep them from burning, but make sure to use brands without zinc oxide.

Turquette says children’s nontoxic sunscreens are often safe to use, but Moab Barkery also sells sunscreen for pets. Their fur does a good job of preventing their skin from burning, so give them a brush before you head out.

The slickrock will heat up, and while you might not notice through your shoes, your pet will feel it.

Make sure that as you walk, you’re checking on them about every half an hour. Dogs are pack animals, and they want to keep up with you, so they might not let you know anything is wrong.

Turquette has a few tips to help keep your dog healthy and happy.

“First, carry water,” she said. “Way more water than you think you need. A 60-pound dog needs an average of a gallon of water a day when you’re out on adventure. Then look at your dog’s gums and look for signs of distress. If their gums are bright red, if their tongue is hanging way out of their mouth, they are probably already in heat stroke. You need to stop and get them to cool down.”

If you need to cool down your dog, first wet its paws. This is the only place a dog has sweat glands. Then get your dog’s chest wet from its chin to its legs and let the dog rest in the shade for a bit. The water will cool your dog off while it recovers. As you check on your dog, examine its paws. Tiny Foxtail seeds can work their way between the toes of a dog and cause a lot of pain, so make sure to brush them off whenever you can.


As a matter of trail etiquette, find out if other dogs you encounter are friendly before you let yours run up them. Just because your dog is a big sweetheart doesn’t mean everybody else’s dog is also friendly. One way of indicating to other people not to approach is a red tie around your leash, so if you see one, approach with caution.

Dog bites are fairly common in Moab. So far this year, 20 dog bites have been reported to the Moab City Police Department.

During the months between June and September of 2018, 11 dog bites were reported to the Moab City Police Department’s animal control officer, so exercise caution this summer.

Lastly, but just as important, remember to clean up after your pet. Nobody likes to see dog waste left behind on the trail and sidewalks, so carry some baggies with you. Not every trail provides trash cans and waste bags, so if you bring your own waste bag, be prepared to carry it out with you. Thousands of people use the recreation areas in the Moab area so be courteous.

Putting your dog in a boarding kennel is possible if you decide to go places that your dog isn’t allowed to go, but there are limited options. Tracy’s Bed and Biscuit Kennel and Karen’s Canine Campground tend to fill up early so it’s best to call in advance to check for availability.

If you see a dog left in a car, you can help.

An average of 31 dogs are left inside hot vehicles in Moab between June and September each year, according to data from the Moab City Police Department.

Animal control officer Mark Sutton said “The first thing you should do is call the sheriff’s dispatch (435-259-8115) and [law enforcement will] respond immediately. That takes a high priority for us.”

Some people wonder if a citizen can break a car window to help a dog left in a hot car.

While you may want to help an animal in severe distress, the best thing you can do is to call 911. Shattering glass can hurt you and the animal inside, so it’s a job better suited for Moab’s emergency first responders. The police department regularly responds to calls about dogs left in hot cars and they will break the window in a vehicle if the owner can’t be found to open a door.

“Get outside the city. Anytime you’re outside the city, your dog does need to be under voice command, but they can be off leash.”

Know the city’s regulations, pay attention to heat and dangers of dog bites