How Dog Friendly is Boston, Really?

In the city of Boston, it’s hard out here for a pup.

After living in Austin, TX and Malibu, CA, I can attest that dogs have it better in other cities. For starters, Boston is an urban area with harsh winters, which isn’t an ideal setting for a pooch.

However, the city has definitely become more dog friendly over the past decade.


Back in 2008, Michael Maida opened Pawsh Dog Boutique & Spa in the Back Bay.

Maida says, “Back then most of the stores were not dog friendly. We were the first dog store on Newbury Street. About a year and a half after we opened, not one but two more (dog) stores opened on Newbury.”

Although the city has seen more dog stores pop up, unless you’re frequenting one of these stores, your dog will likely have to stay outside while you shop.


Apartment hunting in Boston can be tricky when you’ve got your four-legged friends in tow.

South Boston resident Bronwyn Kieve says, “Apartment rentals are not very friendly. Finding an apartment with more than one dog was so difficult, we ended up buying a house.”

Though, apparently, this too has been changing. Maida reminisces, “(Back in the day), it was really hard for people to get apartments that allow dogs. Now, it’s almost required, if you want to have a nice luxury building, you gotta be dog friendly. So, we’ve seen a huge change in the last five to six years.”

Hotels and “Yappy Hours”

The city definitely has some dog-friendly hotels.

The Lenox Hotel in the Back Bay admits small dogs (50 pounds or less); however, there’s a $125 fee, so be sure to remind your dog to bring its checkbook.

Located in the Fenway area, the music-themed Verb Hotel welcomes small dogs.

And if you have a bigger dog, The Liberty Hotel will accommodate you. Located in historic Beacon Hill, the Liberty was formerly a prison; so, if your dog is particularly naughty, this might be a good spot to check out.

Also, in the summer, the Liberty holds “yappy hours” in their courtyard from 5:30 – 8pm on Wednesdays, where Bostonians are encouraged to bring their furry friends to the outdoor bar area.

When weather permits, the Seaport Hotel offers a similar function on Wednesdays from 5:30 – 7:30pm on their terrace.


Beantown is home to eight off-leash dog parks, one of which is inside America’s oldest public park, the Boston Common.

Approved in 2013, the Boston Common Off-Leash Dog Program became the city’s first off-leash dog park that is not fenced in.

So, how dog friendly is Boston?

When asked about the dog situation in Boston, Andrew Kieve didn’t mince words. “Boston pretends to be dog friendly, but it’s actually not.”

A peripatetic entrepreneur, Kieve has lived with dogs in Boston, Barcelona, San Francisco, New York, D.C., Chicago, London, and Shanghai. He says, “(Of all these cities), Shanghai is the only place less dog friendly than Boston – because there’s dog on the menu.”

His wife Bronwyn was quick to disagree with this assessment. “I wouldn’t say Boston isn’t dog friendly, but it’s not necessarily super friendly either.” Fair enough.

John Donegan