'Woof woof, woof woof woof.'

That's dog for: For a detailed list of Boulder's regulations for dogs and their human companions, go to bouldercolorado.gov and search "dog regulations."

D ogs have it pretty good in Boulder.

How many other cities do you know of where banks keep a bowl of dog biscuits next to the crummy lollipops?

In the past few years, the city has tightened up dog regulations and how much freedom Fido has tends to wax and wane with the whims of city council. There are still plenty of places for your dog to get out and run within the city limits, just be aware of the programs and policies dog owners need to follow.

Boulder's green tag program is designed to allow you to have your dog off-leash in designated areas. All dogs must be on leashes in public places unless the area is an approved green tag region of Open Space. You can sign up for the green tag program at bouldercolorado.gov, where tags are $15 for residents of Boulder County and $18.75 for non-residents.

Some of the areas where you can take your dog off leash with a green tag include: Marshall Mesa, Doudy Draw, Mount Sanitas, Sage Trail, Dry Creek and Green Mountain. Some of these areas have seasonal restrictions in place to protect wildlife and ground nesting birds, so check before you go.


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Any dog that is allowed to run off leash must of course be a good canine citizen. A well-behaved dog is one that is not aggressive towards other dogs or people, returns when called and does not disturb wildlife. Animal Control officers and Open Space rangers do patrol many of the off-leash areas and have earned a reputation for being stern with tickets.

There are a few businesses that will allow dogs to accompany you inside, such as McGuckin Hardware, Petsmart, Home Depot and several smaller pet shops. Make sure your dog is calm and well-behaved before bringing them into dog friendly establishments.

Several Boulder restaurants are OK with your dog napping on the porch. The general rule is dogs are not allowed inside restaurants but can often relax with you on an outdoors patio. Ask first or give your favorite eatery a call to find out if they are cool with dogs.

The City of Boulder does have four exclusive dog parks -- fenced in areas where your pup is free to romp with other dogs in a controlled setting. As with the rest of the city, you'll need to clean up after your dog in these parks. There are established dog parks at the East Boulder Recreation Center, Valmont Park, Foothills Park and Howard Heuston Park. Though not officially a dog park, the Dry Creek area in southeast Boulder is another dog-friendly location where green tag laws apply.

Hike and run

The good news is that if your dog is well-behaved, there are many of dog friendly trail for runners and hikers. The Boulder Reservoir is a fun dog destination because your pup can go for a swim on the northeast shore of the lake after a good run. Most of the trails in the Marshall Mesa area are dog friendly, as are the southern portions of the Mesa Trail near South Boulder Peak. Mount Sanitas is another popular dog trail, as is its less crowded neighbor, the Anemone Trail.

Once out of Boulder, the mountains offer a lot of freedom for dogs but as always, check before going as to the specific regulations. Cogs are not allowed in Rocky Mountain National Park. Many people bring their dogs along when rock climbing in Boulder Canyon. The normal city rules apply and of course, and out of courtesy, make sure your dog isn't going to pee on other climber's ropes or raid their backpacks.

Overall, Boulder doesn't quite have the spirit of the wild West many dog owners wish it did but with a little bit of exploration you can find wonderful outlets for your dog's needs. The majority of people in Boulder -- even those without dogs -- tend to have favorable opinion of canines but please aware there are exceptions to the rule (and these people tend to be quite vocal and cranky about it). So to avoid any trouble, make sure you have a predictable and well-trained dog. If you are uncertain about how they will behave, keep them on leash. With nearly one out of every three households in Boulder with a dog, the more good examples we can set the better, since Boulder's dog policy is a constantly changing animal.

-- James Dziezynski is a freelance writer living in Boulder with his border collie, Fremont, and his cat, Xanadu.