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Jerriann in Waltham, MA @JerriannWrites

Jerriann is a writer with endless love for pizza, red wine, and bad reality television.

Grab Your Pup's Leash: These Are the Best U.S. Cities for Walking Your Dog

We created "Dog Walkability" scores for 29 U.S. cities. Find out if your city made the "Most Walkable" or "Least Walkable" list.

Truth: The only thing dogs love more than treats and belly rubs are walks.

Between the tail-wagging and silly grins, they're thrilled when they see their parents, walkers or sitters pick up their leashes and utter those five magical words:

“Let's go for a walk!!"

And not only are walks fun, but they’re an excellent way to keep our four-legged friends in shape. In fact, walking is crucial to maintaining your pup’s physical and mental well-being. Veterinarians agree that regular walks can reduce bad behavior like chewing, digging or scratching. Plus, walks calm pups down and reduce their hyperactivity, excitability and even nighttime activity. (If that's the case, just imagine how zen'd out they'd be if they were in a doggy day care running around all day!)

Given how important walks are for dogs’ health and well-being, we found ourselves wondering, “Well, are there cities that are better for taking your dog out on a walk than others?” We knew that sites like WalkScore.com created ranked lists of the most “walkable” cities for humans, but we couldn’t find the same types of city “walkability” scores for our pups. So, we decided to make our own.

In a new report, Care.com data analysts compiled the average minutes per dog walk from Care.com jobs, the amount of dog parks per 10,000 residents, and each city's official WalkScore.com WalkScore to create our very own “Dog Walkability Score.” After they crunched the numbers, our analysts ranked 29 cities by how "walkable" they are for dogs.

Take a look at the infographic below to see if your city made the cut for the top 10 most walkable cities for dogs:

Infographic, courtesy of Care.com

So, the next big question is: How long should these walks be?

According to the ultimate animal whisperer Cesar Millan, a daily 30- to 60-minute walk is ideal (but some breeds need more time outdoors than others). Only San Francisco, America's top-ranked dog-walking city, met Millan's goal. In San Francisco, dog walkers spent an average of 32 minutes per walk; in Portland, it was 29 minutes; in Seattle, walkers averaged 26 minutes per stroll; in Tampa, folks spent about 23 minutes per walk; and in Washington, D.C., dog walkers took pups out for about 26 minutes each time.

It also turned out that the more dog parks a city had, the more motivated pet parents seemed to be to take their pets out every day. From our data, we discovered that, per 10,000 people, Portland has five dog parks, San Francisco has three, and Seattle has two -- but also is known for welcoming dogs in most of its 400+ parks. 

Below, we’ve provided the full chart of 29 cities included in this study, ranked in the order of their Overall Dog Walking Score:

Rank Primary City WalkScore Mins per Walk Score Dog Parks Score Overall Dog Walking Score
1 San Francisco 86 100 98 94.6
2 Portland 64 90 100 84.6
3 Seattle 73 63 57 64.3
4 Tampa 49 44 96 63.0
5 Washington 77 66 44 62.3
6 New York 89 48 38 58.3
7 St. Louis 64 65 40 56.3
8 Minneapolis 68 50 45 54.4
9 Riverside 41 90 30 53.6
10 San Jose 50 86 22 52.6
11 Boston 81 51 25 52.2
12 Denver 60 62 34 52.0
13 San Diego 50 74 25 49.6
14 Cincinnati 50 59 33 47.4
15 Atlanta 48 67 19 44.8
16 Chicago 78 37 18 44.2
17 Philadelphia 78 49 1 42.8
18 Los Angeles 66 59 0 41.8
19 Austin 39 53 32 41.4
20 Detroit 55 47 10 37.4
21 Houston 48 50 14 37.3
22 Miami 78 18 13 36.4
23 Baltimore 69 37 1 35.6
24 San Antonio 37 56 6 32.8
25 Dallas 45 46 3 31.5
26 Milwaukee 61 26 7 31.4
27 Nashville 28 44 19 30.3
28 Charlotte 26 47 10 27.5
29 Jacksonville 26 0 2 9.4


Methodology

This study gathered data from 29 cities and ranked them based on the following metrics: average minutes per dog walk from Care.com positions, dog parks per 10,000 residents from The Trust for Public Land's Center for City Park Excellence, and the 2016 City & Neighborhood Ranking from WalkScore.com.

Each metric is normalized on a scale of 0 to 100, and then equally weighted to create the Overall Dog Walking Score.

 

Want to check out more of our studies? Feel free to peruse this list: