Dog Friendly SXSW Activities

SXSW is upon us! That means it’s time to coordinate transport, figure out the schedule, and get to the fun stuff. But wait! Is that your dog looking at you with those sad glossy eyes, as if to say, “don’t leave me here… all alone… to diiiiiiie!”

Oh, the agony!

But wait –  Austin is an incredibly dog friendly city! Surely there’s a way to enjoy some SXSW activities with your dog.

Dog friendly concerts?

Outdoor “dog-friendly” concerts may be tempting, especially with Wyclef Jean doing a Prince tribute this year (OMG!), but a loud concert with tons of people is no place for a dog.

Most of the dogs that I observe at events like this look miserable and stressed. It makes sense too. Dog ears are far more sensitive than ours. Not only do they hear better, but they hear more – as in a far wider range of sounds. With those sounds amplified, plus the chaos of a concert in general, it can really traumatize a dog.

So what can you do with your dog during SXSW?

If you’re looking for something specifically SXSW pertaining to dogs, check out Do You Speak Dog?. Learn about upcoming developments in dog technology that let us monitor dog emotions. Be still my dog-nerd heart!

If you just want to get out, our friends at Tomlinsons have posted this great list of dog friendly places this SXSW season, most of which will have some sort of SXSW themed event posted to social media and/or their website.

If you visit Yard Bar, where every day is a dog party, look for us in the training center behind the patio and say hi! We teach classes there Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday (hours vary). We’re always happy to chat before or after class, and we welcome anyone to observe. Or better yet – enroll in a class, grab a beer, and spend some quality time teaching your pupper or doggo how to be the best they can be!

Remember the essentials when out with your dog too. Bring water, treats, and a toy if your dog is into that kind of thing. We also like to carry a little mat so that Jack has a good spot to settle and stay clean. Cut a yoga mat in half for a great portable dog mat.

Leaving your dog at home?

Those can be some long days for Fido to stay out of trouble. Here are a few tricks when you’re in a tight squeeze with balancing dog love and a hectic SXSW schedule.

Do more with your walks to tire both your dog’s brain and body. Incorporate cues like sit, down, stay, leave it, come, and any tricks your dog knows throughout your walk. A little brain work goes a long way, especially when paired with exercise.

Not a walker? Does your dog need more? Play a little fetch or some inside games before you leave. These simple games usually last about fifteen minutes before your dog’s attention span runs out. But just five minutes of mentally challenging exercises a day can greatly improve your dog’s overall happiness.

Lastly, if you’re going to be gone for longer than your dog can hold their bladder, call in some help. There are a ton of great affordable dog walkers in Austin, but you have to call ahead to set up service. Search google maps to find a local company (always check their ratings), or check out Wag! or The Pet Gal for tech-savvy dog walking services with good reviews and a wider service range. Not only will your dog get a potty break, but they will also get a walk and some play time out of the deal!

Whatever your plans are this SXSW, we hope you and your dog have a great time. Maybe we’ll see you out there!


Crystal Dunn owns Leaps N’ Hounds Dog Training. Contact her at