It’s time!  You can stop throwing your dog’s favorite squeaky toy down the hallway!  Instead, there are so many dog-friendly activities you can enjoy with your dog in Boone County as the weather becomes warmer.

Paved Paths

If you’re like most of us, you’ve probably taken a lot more walks over the last year. I’ve heard stories of dogs that got so tired of taking multiple walks a day, they started hiding under furniture to avoid it! If you and your furry friend are looking for a new place to walk, several of our local parks offer paved walking trails perfect for exploring and sniffing.

Central Park/The Arboretum: It’s definitely one of the most popular walking paths in the area due to the variety in vegetation and beautiful blooms. You’ll probably run into a lot of other dogs taking walks on this 2+ mile path, which may or may not be your pet’s cup of tea. This park also backs up to a cow farm, providing some extra mental stimulation for your pup.

England Idlewild Park: This park has a lot to offer for dogs and their owners, including an almost 2-mile paved path. In addition to the path, there are fitness stations around the path. Why mention human-focused fitness stations? I’ve seen a number of dogs, including my own, get super excited when their human decides to do some pull-ups or other high-movement activities!

Florence Nature Park/South Fork Park: Both of these parks are in the city of Florence. They both have a paved trail of about half a mile each. Florence Nature Park also has several granite animals around the park that are perfect for sniffing. The shorter paths can also allow you to work on training a bit more outdoors or setting up “scavenger hunts” to allow your dog to use their nose to find the prize.


If you and your pal are ready for something a bit more rugged, there are several great hiking trails within the area.

Middle Creek Park: This park has over 8 miles of shared horse/hiking trails. The plants are beautiful for the humans, while the dogs are definitely interested in the smells (horse trail, remember?) It is definitely more on the rugged side compared to some of the other walking/hiking paths in the area. It does get pretty muddy when it rains, so keep that in mind before you head there.

Gunpowder Creek Nature Park: One of my finds over the past year is this park. There’s a path that is listed at 1.25 miles, but we have gone up and down it several times to make it longer. Your furry friend will love the creek and runoff on some of the trails. I’ve seen several different animals at this park that have captivated my dog’s attention, including a little white snake (unfortunately). Bonus: Much of the trail here is gravel, so your dog’s feet may not be as muddy after it rains!

Big Bone Lick State Park: There is sure to be something to capture your dog’s attention. There are several trails of varying lengths for different levels of hiking, or you can combine multiple trails for the entire length. Bison are the main attraction at this state park. They aren’t something we see every day, so they are definitely a treat for the pups.

Dog Park

There is only one dog park in the area, but it’s one of the nicest ones I’ve been to. It’s located at England Idlewild Park, near the community gardens. There are four separate gated pens, two for small dogs and two for larger dogs. Don’t forget your ball or frisbee! This is also a great way to socialize your dog and tire them out. If you aren’t sure how your furry friend will react, try taking them outside the fence first and gradually introduce them to the environment. There is even an agility course if you want to try training your furry friend for some extra fun.

Things to Keep in Mind Before You Play!

  • Don’t forget the poop bags! This is the cardinal, number one rule for taking your dog anywhere in public. You may think this seems self-explanatory, but you wouldn’t believe seem to conveniently forget.
  • Take water for you pup. They won’t last long if they are dehydrated. You don’t want to get two miles into a hike and have your dog lay down and refuse to move.
  • If you’re going to walk on pavement, make sure to check the weather to make sure it isn’t too hot for four paws. That can cause some serious damage to furry feet.

The most important thing to remember is to get outside and have fun with your pets. It may look a little different for different dogs, but trust me-they will love any activity you do with them!

Kelsey Shackelford is the Community Events Liaison at Boone County Public Library.