Find a new view for you and your furry friends! Here are 10 spots to walk the dog in Memphis. (Photo: @pvzphoto)

Walkin’ the Dog in Memphis: Parks and Paths for Your Pup

GUEST POST BY katie pemberton, community engagement specialist for Memphis Animal Services.

Hey Siri, Play “Walkin’ the Dog” By Rufus Thomas! We thought we’d share locals’ tried and true places to walk or hike with their dogs in the Memphis area.

But first, Certified Professional Dog Trainer Ann Marie Easton with Pawsitive Companionship offers some Dos and Don’ts to keep in mind.

  1. DO remember that our dogs are on “sniffaris” when they walk with us. We take sniffy walks so our dogs can enjoy all the odors they encounter, and they gain much needed mental stimulation when they sniff. Be sure to give them plenty of opportunities to do so!
  2. DON’T allow your dog to walk up to another person or dog, even if your dog is friendly. Not every person or dog welcomes an approaching dog. 
  3. DO walk your dog on a flat collar, martingale collar, or harness, and use a 6-foot leash. Retractable leashes are dangerous for multiple reasons, so please steer clear of them!
  4. DO work with your dog to teach them to walk on a loose leash. This step is vital to enjoyable walks. Certified trainers can help you reach this goal.
  5. DON’T continue walks if your dog routinely barks, pulls, lunges, growls, snarls, or snaps at people or dogs until you have worked with a certified trainer or behaviorist to help modify their behavior. Each time a dog practices a behavior, it just reinforces it further—making it more difficult to change later on.
  6. DO follow the leash laws in your area. In Memphis, every dog must be on a leash or behind a fence while outdoors. There are several designated off-leash areas specifically for dogs, and those are the only places that your dog may legally be unleashed.

Now that we’ve covered the “how” of walking your dog…

Let’s dig into the “where" to walk your dog in memphis:

Photo: Phillip Van Zandt (@pvzphoto) featuring Twister at Shelby Farms Park

Sure—this one’s pretty obvious, but Shelby Farms is an extremely popular spot for dogs and their families for a reason. With over 40 miles of trails and 4,500 acres, it’s every dog’s dream.

“We normally start at gate 13 and wander the paths radiating from there,” said David Eizinger, who frequents the park with his dog Pepper, and the hospice foster dogs he and his wife Deb care for. “Every one of our hospice dogs has been there with us. I love that gem.”

Shelby Farms also has The Outback, a 100-acre off-leash dog park. There’s plenty of space for a nice long walk there, too, with a few ponds for doggie swim breaks. But keep in mind, off-leash dog parks are not for every dog.

Photos: Stephanie Andrews with Hardy and Jade at Lucius Burch

We love it for the good environmental training for the dogs,” said Stephanie Andrews who takes her dogs Jade and Hardy. “There are lots of different bridges and foot paths, and after we’re done we love to go to the “beach” off the Wolf River to romp and play!”

Photo: Emily Walker featuring Nala and Felix

Dog groomer Emily Walker thinks Herb Parsons Lake is worth the drive to Fayette County for hiking the 2-mile or 8-mile trail with her dogs Felix and Nala.

“It’s an easy place to immerse yourself and your pups in nature,” said Emily. “Although it’s just a stone’s throw from the city, it’s one of the calmest, most serene lakes.”

Photo: Coraline at Overton Park via @shelbywordsmith

Omar and Emily Yunis’ most frequent spot for walking their dog Charsi is Overton Park. In Emily’s experience, if you’ve taught your dog certain commands and you want to test out how they do around distractions, Overton Park will provide plenty.

“The walks can be on the pavement or gravel path that outlines the forest,” said Emily. “Your dog will likely be exposed to other dogs, kids, adults, and even wildlife while at Overton.”

Keep in mind your dog’s socialization level when choosing where to walk them. If they are uncomfortable around certain people or dogs, Overton Park may not be the best spot to start them because of the typical volume of human and canine guests.

Photo: Laura Mooney featuring Missy at the Wolf River Greenway

Laura and Matt Mooney love walking their dogs on the Greenline near Wolf River in Germantown.

“It’s mostly shaded and stays pretty uncrowded,” Laura said. “You also don’t run into too many off-leash dogs as opposed to other parks like Shelby Farms.”

Photo: @shelbywordsmith featuring Coraline

“The local state parks have always been fun for us!” said Stephanie Aguilar who especially enjoys T.O. Fuller for walking her dog Meg. “Leashes are definitely a must as some of the trails have steep drop offs and pups could get hurt if they get too adventurous.” 

Photo: at Nesbit Park Hiking Trail

Michelle Badrian, who walks the trails with her dog Flurry, said, “It feels removed and like you aren’t in a city, but are really within nature. There are so many different things to have fun with, too, from creeks and bridges to winding paths.”

@watsonthedog20 enjoys a snowy day at Fourth Bluff park with owner Macy Vaughan

Fourth Bluff sits atop the river and is a very dog-friendly place to walk! The park sits atop the river bluff on Front Street between Court and Jefferson. ou and your pooch can wander the trails and enjoy the views of the riverfront from under the shade of a tree. The park is open every day of the week from dawn until dusk.

urban walking

Not every human, or even every dog, is a big nature lover. There are still plenty of opportunities around the city for more urban walking, as long as you keep some safety tips in mind. 

  1. Use reflective gear if you walk at night.
  2. Ice melt salt is toxic if ingested or licked off of paws. If it snows and the streets get salted, do not let them lick or eat the ice melt salt from the ground or their paws.
  3. On the flip side, consider heat. Put your bare hand on the sidewalk. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your pup’s paws and could cause burns.
  4. Bookmark the temperature graphic in this article to determine if it’s too hot or cold for your dog to go on a walk. This applies to walks regardless of location or setting.

now for some dog-friendly neighborhoods:

Photo: Kwame Tawiah

Crosstown is a popular spot for volunteers to take MAS shelter dogs on their Foster Field Trips. At Crosstown, you can still get the miles in even if the weather is not cooperative.

Photo: Cyrena Wages and Grizzy June

South Main offers local musician Cyrena Wages and her dog Grizzly June more than just a physical location to walk.

“We love walking our neighborhood in the mornings. South Main feels really alive, creative, and energetic,” said Cyrena. “We love to see Mr. Eugene at ARRIVE and Mr. Ron near Stock and Belle. Thanks to the Green Beetle for always having a water bowl for us!”

Need a dog to walk or hike with?

Memphis Animal Services takes in about 6,000 dogs a year. That’s a lot of potential walking and hiking buddies, whether you adopt, foster, or even just do a foster field trip for a few hours on the weekend!

get to know MAS and the pets in their care:

looking for more outdoor fun?

We’ve got a guide for that!

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