Paw Friendly Places in the Capital City

by Michelle O’Dea

Pet ownership is on the rise, and our Capital City is no exception. Nearly 63,000 households in Lincoln have pets—and dog lovers reign supreme in our paw friendly city. Whether Lincolnites are stopping by a local barista for their favorite latte, going on a walk on one of our many trails, or grabbing a craft beer at a neighborhood brewpub, you will often see their canine friends tagging alongside them. 

Canine Recreation

Lincoln boasts over 131 miles of hard surface and crushed rock trails for short or long walks for our furry friends, keeping them and their human counterparts in shape. If the weather does not cooperate, there are businesses that offer indoor swimming and treadmill services too. And, if health and wellness plans include yoga, why not try out the emerging trend of DOGA? Yes, it is yoga with your dog! 

Not only is DOGA a great way to bond with your dog, it helps keep you both in shape, provides relaxation and entertainment. In addition, DOGA is a great way to rehab an injured dog since dogs have a natural instinct to stretch. Watch for DOGA opportunities through partnerships with yogis and canine rescue groups, such as Revolution Rescue. 

Lincoln’s Parks and Recreation Department offers a host of great off-leash dog parks dotted throughout the city. These fenced-in areas allow dog owners the option to exercise and socialize their dogs without having to be on a leash. The parks were built by the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department, and ongoing management is provided Parks and Rec, by the users themselves, and a Lincoln nonprofit organization, the Friends of the Dog Park. 

Rickman’s Run, located just southeast of 70th and Holmes Lake Road, incorporates 26 acres of beautiful landscape, mature trees, and a natural waterway. Rickman’s Run was Lincoln’s primary dog park for a number of years until a partnership with local nonprofit, Friends of the Dog Parks, emerged. Since that time, Lincoln has three more quality parks specifically for off-leash canine fun. 

Roper East Dog Run, at North 7th and Adams, is just northwest of downtown, features ample parking, a restroom (human), and includes a drinking fountain and rinsing station. Peterson Dog Park in Southwest Lincoln at 4419 Southwood Drive and Mahoney Dog Run in Northeast Lincoln, at 84th and Market were added in 2017, and offer ADA-accessible parking, separate off-leash areas for small and large dogs, restrooms, benches and trash receptacles. Peterson Park dog run is located on the west side of Southwood drive and features a 2.6-acres large dog area and a 1-acre area for small dogs. Mahoney Dog Run includes 3.6 acres for large dogs and .6 acres for small dogs. 

Dog-Friendly Businesses

More and more people want to include their pets when on the go, and while only task-trained service dogs are allowed in public places with their disabled partner in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), there are Lincoln establishments that do allow pets on the premises. From coffee shops, to restaurants and bars, to big box stores, some Lincoln establishments are welcoming to our canine (and sometimes feline) friends. There are also a host of apartment rental companies and assisted living centers for seniors that accept pets. For a list of pet friendly, places, visit the reference list on the website of Lincoln Animal Ambassadors (LAA) at LAA is Lincoln’s best advocate for pets in need. They are addressing the root causes of pet homelessness in the area, provide a voucher-based low cost neuter/spay program, temporary assistance food bank, and a low-cost vaccination clinic. 

Pawsitively Fun Events

There is nothing more fun than attending a social event with like-minded people who love their pets, and Lincoln’s rescue organizations top the charts in pet-related events. From musical acts to comedy, bingo to meals, these groups fundraise to operate their organizations through community events.

Perhaps the largest and most well-known event is the I Love My Dog Expo, hosted by Domesti-PUPS a local nonprofit organization that provides therapy dogs, service dogs and adoptables. The I Love My Dog Expo is the last weekend in February, a time of year when dog owners are limited in taking their pets out due to wintery conditions. The event lasts two days, offers over 60 vendors with pet related items for sale, and hourly entertainment for the whole family. For more information, visit

Lincoln’s baseball team, the Saltdogs, also get involved with pet owners by offering Bark at the Park, where pet owners can bring their leashed, friendly dogs to the berm, and watch the baseball game and socialize. 

No matter where you look, Lincoln has many opportunities for pets and their people. You will be sure to have a pawsitively good time. 

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