Man’s Best Friend Goes West. How One Dog Found His Forever Home In Colorado


Colorado has become one of the most popular destinations for dog owners looking to relocate. According to a recent survey by Forbes Advisor, Colorado ranks #1 among U.S. states with the most devoted dog owners, with over 70% of Colorado households owning at least one dog. With its abundance of dog-friendly amenities and activities, stunning natural landscapes perfect for outdoor adventures, and progressive laws protecting animal welfare, it’s no wonder so many dog parents are flocking to Colorado to experience the ultimate dog-loving lifestyle.

Lifestyle Appeal

Colorado is known for its abundant outdoor recreation opportunities and active lifestyle, which make it highly appealing for dogs and their owners. The state has extensive parks, trails, lakes, rivers, and mountains that enable dogs to hike, swim, run, play, and explore the beautiful outdoors. According to BringFido, popular dog-friendly outdoor destinations in Colorado include Garden of the Gods, Great Sand Dunes National Park, and Telluride Gondola.

abundant outdoor recreation

There are plenty of activities for dogs in Colorado, from hiking and camping to boating and kayaking. Many outdoor outfitters and tour companies accommodate dogs on rafting trips, Jeep tours, and other adventures. Colorado’s temperate climate enables outdoor fun nearly year-round. The abundance of off-leash parks and open spaces also allow dogs to roam freely and socialize with other pups.

For dogs that love swimming, Colorado has over 2,000 lakes and reservoirs, plus miles of dog-friendly rivers and streams. The mountains offer cooler temperatures for dogs on hot summer days. Overall, Colorado’s endless outdoor recreation opportunities make it a dog’s paradise.

Dog-Friendly Laws

Colorado has several dog-friendly laws that make it an appealing state for dog owners. According to the Consolidated Dog Laws for Colorado, dogs are considered personal property in the state. This means owners have legal rights and protections for their pets.

Some key Colorado dog laws include:

  • No breed-specific legislation – pit bulls and other breeds are not banned statewide.
  • Dogs are allowed in outdoor public places like parks, trails, and open spaces unless specifically prohibited.
  • Dogs are permitted in restaurants if allowed by the establishment.
  • There are strict liability statutes for dog bites – the dog owner is liable for any property damages or injuries.
  • It’s illegal to abandon or mistreat dogs under anti-cruelty laws.
  • There are provisions about removing “dangerous dogs” who exhibit aggressive behavior.

Overall, Colorado’s dog laws aim to protect pets while also holding owners responsible. The lack of major restrictions gives dogs more public freedoms than many states.

Dog Parks

extensive dog park network

Colorado is home to an extensive network of dog parks and off-leash areas. According to analysis done by LawnStarter in 2022, Colorado Springs ranked 13th among US cities for its dog-friendliness, due in large part to the number and quality of its dog parks.

The analysis cited this article showing Colorado Springs has over 30 designated dog parks, off-leash trails, and open spaces that allow dogs.

Other research shows dog parks have been growing rapidly nationwide. According to Sniffspot, there was a 40% increase in public dog parks from 2009-2020, indicating the rising demand for designated off-leash areas.

The city of Denver is particularly dog-friendly. An article from Denverite stated Denver has over 158,000 dogs across 99,000 households – more dogs than children. The city provides dozens of fenced-in dog parks for exercise and socialization.

With plentiful parks providing a safe space to play, Colorado’s dog parks are a huge draw for active pet owners.

Dog Events

Colorado is home to many popular dog events throughout the year that draw canine enthusiasts from across the country. Some of the notable annual dog events in Colorado include:

The Colorado Canine Classic dog show takes place every June in Denver and attracts over 1,500 dogs competing in conformation, obedience, rally, and agility trials (Colorado Dog Events).

Woofstock 9Health Fair is one of the largest dog festivals in the country, featuring pet adoption events, contests, entertainment, and more. It is held annually in May at Cherry Creek State Park in Denver (Dog Events in Colorado).

The annual Golden Paw Dog Show occurs every July in Arvada and includes conformation, agility, flyball, dock diving, and other canine sporting events (Denver, CO Dog Events).

Fido Fest is Denver’s original dog festival, offering dock diving, agility demos, pet contests, dog costume parade, and vendors catering to canines and their owners.

Dog-Friendly Housing

expanding pet-friendly housing
Colorado has become one of the most dog-friendly states for housing and rentals. According to data from Zillow, as of January 2023, more than 75% of rental listings in Denver allow pets [1]. This makes Denver one of the top pet-friendly cities in the nation for renters.

The pet-friendly housing market in Colorado is also expanding due to new legislation. In April 2023, Colorado lawmakers passed a bill called H.B. 23-1068, which aims to remove barriers for pets in housing across the state [2]. This will make it easier for pet owners in Colorado to find and afford rental housing where they can live with their pets. The ASPCA has championed this legislation as a way to prevent families from being separated from their pets due to housing restrictions.

Adoption Trends

increasing adoption rates

Colorado has seen an upward trend in pet adoption rates in recent years. According to the Maddie’s Fund report on Trends in Intake and Outcome Data for Colorado Animal Shelters, the annual number of cats adopted from 2000 to 2015 increased by 15.9%. The adoption rate for cats was 27,800 per year, which equals 5.8 adoptions per 1,000 state residents per year, or 59.6% of intake. For dogs, adoptions increased by 33.5% from 2000 to 2015. The dog adoption rate was 49,600 per year, or 9.3 adoptions per 1,000 state residents per year, which equaled 53.1% of dog intake.

An article in the Vail Daily noted that while adoption rates were slower in 2022 likely due to economic factors, Colorado shelters aim to avoid flooding the market with too many adoptable pets. The shelters are focused on responsible adoptions that result in permanent homes. Overall, Colorado has a high live release rate. According to the 2021 Colorado PACFA Statistics Analysis by No Kill Colorado, 93.68% of all dogs and cats entering the shelters made it out alive through adoption, return to owner, or transfer to placement partners.

Health Benefits

The fresh mountain air and abundance of off-leash areas in Colorado provide significant health benefits for dogs. According to the Colorado State University (CSU) Department of Veterinary Sciences, the average lifespan of dogs in Colorado is around 11-13 years, which is higher than the national average of 10-12 years (Healthy Paws Pet Insurance). Studies conducted by CSU have linked the high altitude and lower humidity in Colorado to improvements in canine respiratory health.

There are over 120 veterinary practices in Colorado focused on pet wellness and longevity. The state-of-the-art facilities at CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital allow dogs to receive specialized treatments and rehabilitation services. Coloradans also have access to holistic veterinarians who focus on nutrition, acupuncture, and physical therapy to keep dogs active and healthy.

The abundance of off-leash dog parks and hiking trails in Colorado allows dogs to exercise in new environments. Regular physical activity in the mountains helps strengthen dogs’ hearts and lungs. Hiking at high altitude serves as a natural form of altitude training and can boost oxygen circulation and endurance.

Climate Appeal

Colorado’s climate, with four distinct seasons, appeals to many dog breeds that enjoy cooler temperatures. The state’s high altitude and low humidity create crisp, mild summers that most dogs find comfortable. According to, breeds like the Alaskan Malamute, Australian Shepherd, and Bernese Mountain Dog thrive in Colorado’s climate. Winters offer plenty of sunny days, but also periods of colder weather and snow that breeds such as the Labrador Retriever handle well, as noted on


In conclusion, Colorado has become an increasingly popular destination for dogs and their owners for several key reasons. The state offers a very dog-friendly lifestyle with extensive off-leash dog parks, events centered around dogs, and housing options that welcome canine companions. Colorado also has appealing laws that protect dogs and their owners.

Additionally, Colorado’s climate and access to outdoor activities provides health benefits for dogs. The cool weather and low humidity is easier on dogs than hotter climates. With so many hiking trails, lakes, and open spaces, dogs have plenty of opportunities to exercise and explore the outdoors.

For all these reasons, Colorado offers an ideal environment where dogs and their humans can live an active, dog-centered lifestyle together. The state’s dog-friendly reputation will likely continue attracting more and more dog owners each year.

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