In Southwest Florida, dogs rule. From posh “resorts” and gourmet meals, to dog friendly beaches and acres of dog parks, the Paradise Coast is, paws down, a dog friendly kind of place. Here, we take a look at some of those puppy-themed spots to bring your four-legged family member.
In a town like Naples, one thing is a given: pampering, from salon and spa treatments to relaxing luxury resorts, is engrained in the beach lifestyle. And your dog is no exception. Pet Paradise Resort Naples, formerly The Wigglebutt Inn, is an ode to puppy pampering. Offering doggie day care, boarding, and grooming, as well as space for those felines in your life, Pet Paradise is truly dedicated to your pet’s comfort.
At 10,000 square feet, the resort offers three large indoor play areas (no worries about afternoon thunderstorms here), two outdoor play areas featuring artificial turf, and spacious dog suites for those overnight stays (all indoors and climate controlled)—the guilt of doggie-free travel is certainly loosened when your pooch is stretching its legs in one of the five presidential suites (they even have televisions, so no need to DVR Cesar 911). With a dedicated staff of more than 20 people, those nerves of leaving your best pal are eased knowing that someone is always on site caring for your pet.
Dog Friendly Dining
Looking for some haute cuisine that Fido can enjoy too? Check out 2015’s Naples Illustrated‘s Dining Award for “Best Dog Friendly Dining.”
Who Wants a Treat?!
Proponents of taking gourmet cuisine to the dogs, Top Dog Kitchen specializes in jerky treats made with premium and grass-fed cuts of meat (and sweet potato), and no added preservatives, chemicals, sugars, salts, fats, or dyes, as well as baked treats made with whole ground oats and peanut butter (these are corn-, wheat-, and soy-free). Meaning all that’s left is gourmet, healthy treats that are not only good for that four-legged family member, but will make for a happy pooch to boot.
- Top Dog Kitchen can be found at its retial location on the Del Mar Shopping Plaza (7795 Davis Blvd.) and the Third Street South Farmers Market. Call 239-331-8143, or visit topdogkitchen.com for more information.
Have a dog that loves to run, play, and learn? Then Fido’s Gym is the place for you. The large indoor gym—2,100 square feet—gives dogs a chance to run and play in a climate-controlled, clean environment (bad weather, no problem), complete with doggie obstacles and agility course. The rubber mat floor is good on doggie joints, while hundreds—we mean hundreds—of toys are on offer for whatever chewing and chasing you dog wants to do. Ideal for those wishing to train their pup’s mental and physical well being in the agility course, or simply let their dog run wild on a safe and secure area, Fido’s Gym is an absolute blast for your dog and you.
Does Fido have socialization problems? Does the thought of bring your dog around others give you high blood pressure? Have no fear; Fido’s Gym is here. The facility offers Aggressive Training, working to break your dog’s negative habits in a safe, secure, and loving manner. Fido’s Gym’s certified trainer, and team of dogs help desensitize your pet to other dogs and people, making them the picture of obedience. Aggressive Training costs $45 per hour—half of what most private trainers charge.
Want to get your dog in tiptop shape? Interested in getting your four-legged buddy whipping through the agility course like a seasoned pro? Fido’s Gym has a number of classes and training sessions for your dog and you. From the basics—sit, stay—to tricks and agility, group and private classes are available to get everyone on the same page.
If you go, here’s what you need to know:
- Dog owners must provide papers for vaccines, including bordatella, rabies, and DHLPP, as well as flea and heartworm prevention.
- You pup must complete a temperament test before entering the gym, ensuring the safety of all the dogs running and playing.
- For more information, visit fidosgym.com.
Have a problem pooch? Check out our interview with Cesar Millan, founder of the Dog Psychology Center in Fort Lauderdale, and the star of Nat Geo WILD Channel’s Cesar 911.
Baseball & Barks
Take the dog to the ballpark. Enjoy the national pastime at Fort Myers’ Hammond Stadium, home to the Fort Myers Miracle this summer with Fido. On select games throughout the Florida State League Season (click here for more on that), Dog Daze of Summer events lets fans bring their dog to the stadium. Enjoy an afternoon of baseball, beer, hot dogs, and dogs—it’s a can’t miss. Dogs get in free, and be sure to sashay around the concourse and load up on treats from area vendors.
- The next Dog Daze of Summer game is Friday, August 14 (7:05 p.m. first pitch), pitting the Palm Beach Cardinals against the home team for a battle of top standing in the Florida State League South standings. Tickets start at $6.50.
For Paradise Coasters who share their home with a dog, but don’t have a sprawling backyard to let the pup run free, head to one of these Collier and Lee County-run dog parks.
Naples Dog Park
Naples’ premiere pubic dog park, the Naples Dog Park on Riverside Circle gives your pet more than acre to run and play. The public facility has a whopping 1.35 acre fenced-in area, with south section dedicated to big dogs—a full one acre to roam—with the north section–.35 acres—dedicated to smaller breeds. There are plenty of doggie bags on hand, so please clean up after Fido in order to keep the park clean of surprises. For humans, the Palmer House has shaded benches, drinking fountains for man and man’s best friend, and a picnic area.
- The Naples Dog Park is free and open to the public; however, you must register your dog. To register your dog, click here for the registration application—it must be brought to a registration location to complete. Your dog must be up-to-date on all shots and license with Collier County; each dog entering the park must be registered and have a City of Naples dog tag on the collar. The cost for registration is free. For more information, visit naplesgov.com.
- Open from dawn to dusk, seven days a week.
Rover Run | Veterans Park
Located at Veterans Park in North Naples, Rover Run is an off-leash dog park designed to let dogs be dogs. With areas for both small and large dogs, owners can rest assured that pint-sized Fido won’t be bulldozed by that hulking mastiff. Equipped with plenty of shade and clean water for your pup, Rover Run is a great North Naples haunt for dog lovers.
- Open from 7:30 a.m. to dusk, seven days a week.
K-9 Corral | Estero Community Park
Part of Estero Community Park, the K-9 Corral let’s your dog run free, off-leash style. The two-acre dog friendly of the park has separate small and large dog areas, plenty of fresh drinking water, a rinse station, and shade trees for human and dog. A covered shelter is always abuzz with dog-friendly folks, and a great place to meet like-minded dog owners.
- Open from dawn to 9 p.m., seven days a week.
Though your dog might love playing in the surf, there is only one Paradise Coast beach that allows those canines to run free, and that’s Fort Myers’ Dog Beach. Located at southern fringes of Lovers Key State Park, right on the Bonita Springs/Fort Myers border (8800 Estero Blvd. to be exact), Dog Beach allows fols to bring the pooch along for a day of fun in surf too. But a few things you should know before you go:
- Leashes are not required, but are recommended for unruly pups and those that can get aggressive with other dogs. This is not just for the safety of beachgoers, but your dog as well. There tend to be a lot of dogs roaming these parts, and some of them are not as even-tempered as yours.
- If you have small dogs, be wary. Though most beachgoers are friendly, and their dogs too, some tend to be a little lackadaisical when minding their dog, letting them run a little too wild. There have been some rather nasty stories stemming from the beach and poor dog owner behavior—this is a visit-at-your=own-risk kind of place.
- Bring plenty of fresh water for your pup. There is no running water at this beach (also, no restrooms), so bottle H2O is a must. Dogs do not sweat to regulate their body temperature; they pant, which is not exactly the most efficient way of doing things. So when at the beach, it’s important to give your dog plenty of water to keep them cool.
- Try creating a doggie shelter. My go-to setup is a towel, two sticks to prop up one end, and a shallow hole beneath. It makes for a cool, shady area for you dog to rest. Just be sure to fill in that hole before you leave; it’s not just a hazard for other beachgoers, but can be life threatening to nesting sea turtles and hatchlings.
- And on the sea turtle front, be vigilant that your dog does not disturb any nests. With their keen sense of smell, sniffing out a sea turtle nest is super easy for Fido. But if they are to disturb a nest, temperature shifts could kill the eggs, or make it easier for predators like raccoons or foxes to find the eggs.
- Clean up after your dog! Nature calls, we all get it, but that does not mean kicking a little beach sand over the mess consists of dealing with it. There are plenty of dog bags at the beach access point, so there is no excuse for leaving a mess.