Dog-Friendly East Bay

How to get the most out of summer, exploring the coastal Rhode Island with your four-legged friend


August is like the Sunday of summer, with every back-to-school banner calling to make the most of the kind of fun you can only have in the warmest of seasons. With Fido leading the way, we start in Bristol, weave our way up through Warren and Barrington, get a little bit country in Tiverton and Little Compton, then set a course for Aquidneck Island. Whichever East Bay locale you and your pup explore, remember to take the time to relax, breathe in the fresh country or ocean air, and always stop to smell the dog roses!


Few things in life are more satisfying than seeing your dog happy. If your pup is the type to slam down its furry butt at the merest hint of a treat, start by packing a picnic. Bristol’s Woof! Woof! Pet Boutique & Biscuit Bar (31 Bradford Street) has everything from Happy Dog Meal kits containing cheeseburger and fries-shaped treats to chicken-flavored dog beer, aka Cock-A-Doodle Brew. If you’ve got a hot dog on your hands, manager Jocelyn Turner will direct you to the freezer for frozen yogurt or encourage you to make your own bone-shaped icy treats: “Pour Blueberry Pom Burst goat milk into a silicone mold for the perfect combination of refreshment and nutrition,” advises Turner.

With flapping flags and expansive water views, Independence Park on Thames Street Is a great picnic spot and a favorite stroll for locals Adrienne and Brian, who just adopted Husky-Golden mix Sophie from Bristol Animal Shelter (10 Minturn Farm Road). “We wanted to give our Lab a harmonious sibling experience, and the shelter staff were so patient about allowing us to make gradual introductions; they really care about making the right match.”

The ultimate place to work off all these treats is the 464-acre wonderland of Colt State Park (Route 114). Dogs lap up the waterside walks and bike trail jogs but Kathy and her Shepherd-mix Bailey sometimes opt for a quieter stroll at the historic cemetery, where responsible dog owners are welcome to amble with their respectful pals.

Regular hydration is also vital. At The Beehive Cafe (10 Franklin Street) your pup can enjoy a patio water break while you wash down Bacon and Brown Sugar Pancakes with Old Brown Dog ale. If your pal is a long-limbed splayer, opt for the larger enclosed terrace at DeWolf Tavern (259 Thames Street), complete with “DeWoof” jar of dog treats.


Pomeranian mix Luna is a Cafe Water Street (279 Water Street) regular, always looking for the shadiest spot due to her excess of fluff. “The other day at the park a family dumped out the ice from their cooler and she went over and lay on it!” owners Samantha and Jeremy laugh fondly, envisioning the steam coming off her. The trio also raved about the enchanting Waterdog Kitchen + Bar (125 Water Street) where you can enjoy a “Pooch-ageez” Bloody Mary and traditional Portuguese Pastel de Nata dessert on the shell-strewn terrace, with fire pits flickering on cooler nights.

While some dogs are great explorers and socialites, others prefer to snooze contentedly at your feet, in which case you need a good book to enjoy on your outing. Lisa Valentino at Ink Fish Books (488 Main Street) welcomes canine visitors into her stylish, light-filled store with a jar of dog treats and occasional cameos from her soulmate pup Zola. Suggested titles include What’s My Dog Thinking?, The Plant Based Dog Food Revolution and the summer 2021 release of London’s Number One Dog Walking Agency: A Memoir by Kate MacDougall.

Check out the range at Lilly’s Bone To Pick, including neck attire made from up-cycled men’s shirt collars: “So the next time your pet interrupts your Zoom meeting they can be well-dressed!” Creator Sharon Lupo makes all her dog treats on site at Hope & Main in Warren (691 Main Street).


Yorkie Lulu loves her spa days, almost as much as the popsicle-shaped treats at Rumford Pet Express (182 County Road). Newlyweds Dawn and Chris Pawlowski (how apt!) gaze lovingly as Lulu diligently licks away all the peach-colored dog frosting. “She’ll save the biscuit part for after her swim!” For human and canine leftovers, check out the delightful doggy bags in the gift section at Barrington Books, just two doors down (184 County Street). The winged pug lunch bag is insulated and reusable and if you’ve ever had poop bag rolls unravel in your purse and turn into a magician’s never-ending handkerchief trick, you’ll appreciate the neat dog-print zipper pouches. While you grab an iced latte with housemade lavender syrup at the nearby Black Pear (312 County Road), your dog can be picking out a Rhode Island-print bandana or bow tie, made by the chef’s mother.


At vintage goods seller Carmen & Ginger (3842 Main Road), keep an eye out for owner Christine Francis’ tabby cat Django reclining on the jewelry display case as you discover an entire room dedicated to canine and feline decorative treasures. Think Bulldog in a china shop, along with Schnauzers, Scotties, and more! Don’t miss the specially commissioned range of DUSIDOG bow ties and bandanas in authentic retro plaids, with Hope Rope Co leashes dyed to match the summery hues.

Across the street, Groundswell Cafe + Bakery (3883 Main Road) is an exquisite stop for a pastry and pup pic beside the ‘66 Ford truck brimming with flowers. Enjoy a sensory experience well beyond the buttery flakes of your croissant: the chic-styled tables on the dog-friendly wraparound porch transport you to the Paris of technicolor movies, complete with subtle ‘50s jazz serenades piped outside. Don’t be surprised if your pup starts woofing with a French accent and/or takes up the accordion.

For a real Bone Appetite moment, track down Pavlov’s Dog Treat Truck (check @pavlovstreatsfordogs on Instagram for location updates). We found the truck at Tiverton’s Farmer’s Market (43 Muse Way) dishing out waffle cones with Frosty Paws ice cream and tacos with chicken and mozzarella to eager chompers.

Little Compton

While Newport has the lion’s share of pet-friendly hotels in East Bay, Little Compton has one of the loveliest, especially from a dog’s point of view. The Stone House Inn sits on dreamy Sakonnet Point Road with a swathe of manicured lawns and hip pet-friendly quarters of Great Dane proportions. En route, stop off at Wilbur’s General Store (50 Commons) for an illuminating dog collar and leash so you can walk after dark and make a wish on Sirius the Dog Star.


Portsmouth Dog Park (50 Smith Road) is like the gold standard for dog parks with a proud community feel; you can even see family portraits of all the happy regulars – from Collies to Corgis, Westies to Weimaraners – by clicking the “Our Photos” tab on their website: Your dog will be happy to chill after all that play, so head to the picturesque waterfront property at Greenvale Vineyards (582 Wapping Road) for a selection of estate-grown wines including the prettily named Skipping Stone White.


If you want to reward your pal with a dream dog vacation, book a day – or week – at the exceptional Lucky Dog Resort (599 East Main Road). This picture-perfect facility gets rave reviews for its enrichment-focused care, sunny-day splash pool, candy-colored playrooms and the option to board your pup in the style of a sleepover, curling up with his or her new best friends. They even offer a Wedding Valet service so your dog can join you on your special day!


If you’re touring the scenic loop at Fort Adams and spy what looks like a jaunty fox on a leash, it could be Spaniel-mix Truman. “He loves swimming so this is a great spot on a hot day,” says owner Mary, who also enjoys the sweeping bay and bridge views at Belle’s Cafe, set within the Newport Shipyard (1 Washington Street). Well-spaced tables, shady canopies and yummy fare make this an ideal dog-friendly breakfast destination. Pro-tip: Make reservations.

For dinner, consider chowing down at Perro Salado, Spanish for the Salty Dog. This Mexican restaurant (19 Charles Street) nestled within 18th century Decatur House has a dog-friendly patio where you can drool over specialties like sticky pork ribs and avocado fries. Braving the Burning Passion cocktail complete with Hellfire bitters? Have a cooling cucumber aqua fresca lined up!

If you are planning on setting sail, get your sea dog kitted out with a Bay Dog life jacket at Wag Nation (181 Bellevue Avenue). Is your pup panting? Try these three items to help combat August heatwaves: Cool Dog Boots for scorching sidewalks, an Ice Vest or Ice Band to lower body temps, and a Cool Pet Pad for your pup to lie on. Add a little nautical fashion flair with Instagrammable captain hats and sailor suits from Port of Paws (this month’s Rhody Gem on page 19, 433 Thames Street). You’ll also find tough rope toys woven into ship wheels and flip-flops – far preferable to your pup chewing your deck shoes.

Continuing the yachtie vibe, bliss out with serene marina views at the new Brenton Hotel (31 America’s Cup Avenue), which offers one of the most reasonable pet fees in town. Every weekend concierge Tony Palladino brings his Norwich Terrier Scout to work with him, and the pair recently arranged for visiting pooch Bella to be walked and watched while her parents enjoyed a Boston Red Sox game.

With zero pet fees and an abundance of cute perks – including in-room kennels bearing your dog’s name – Paws on Pelham (96 Pelham Street) truly excels and is likely to be #1 on your dog’s Hotel Bucket List. If you’re looking for a romantic hideaway you can’t beat, The Cliffside Inn (2 Seaview Avenue) is a Victorian mansion hosted by charming general managers Josh Farman and Will Bradfield. “We have four rescue dogs of our own so we really adore our canine guests.” Here, the legendary Cliff Walk is essentially your backyard. Catch the sunlight right as you sniff along the historic 3.5-mile-long trail, where the water glimmers as if Mr. Swarovski himself had cast a million crystals across its surface. 



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