If you’re in the 40% or so of American households with a dog and you’re looking for a new neighborhood to call home, you’ll want to make sure it’s a place that welcomes four-legged friends. The right neighborhood can really make a huge difference on not just your quality of life, but your dog’s quality of life as well. So, how can you tell which neighborhoods are dog friendly? Here’s what you should look for.

1. People walking dogs

Obviously, this is the most telltale sign that a neighborhood is dog friendly. If you see people out and about with their four-legged friends, chances are high that neighbors will be understanding of the occasional barking, puppies running loose, and the like.

2. Nearby parks / open space

Just because you see many people walking their dogs, doesn’t mean the neighborhood is necessarily GOOD for a dog. Dogs need lots of space to run around and be dogs. In order for a neighborhood to truly be dog friendly, there needs to be open space in some shape or form for them to burn off their energy—think dog parks, open fields, or hiking trails.

3. Safe spaces to walk

Dogs need exercise just like humans, so a safe place to walk around the neighborhood is important. That means sidewalks are a must for you and your pup, as well as well-lit streets.

4. Pet-friendly establishments

You know you’re truly in a dog-friendly neighborhood if local establishments put out water bowls or dog treats. Nothing says pet-friendly like a community with restaurants, bars, and shops that welcome dogs.

5. Proximity of supplies and services

All of the above are only valid if there are places close by that offer the supplies and services you need to take care of your pooch. If anything ever happened to your dog, you should quickly be able to get him or her the necessary care. Or if you run out of food, you should be able to grab it on the go. So, be sure your potential neighborhood has a veterinarian, emergency pet hospital, kennel, groomer, and pet supply store nearby.

Washington, DC and the nearby suburbs, for the most part, are very welcoming of canine companions. The city itself has plenty of dog-friendly neighborhoods, with pet hotels, dog parks, restaurants that allow pups, and much more. Areas like Adams Morgan, DuPont Circle, and NoMa are especially fond of furry friends. However, the suburbs have a lot to offer pet owners as well.

Here are the top 3 dog-friendly neighborhoods outside of Washington, DC.

Alexandria, Virginia

Alexandria is home to many dog-friendly establishments, like Jackson 20 that holds a Doggie Happy Hour every Tuesday, or The Dairy Godmother, which serves puppy pops and baked dog treats and allows pups to sit on benches to enjoy their snack. The Del Ray area, especially, is known as one of the DC metropolitan area’s most dog-friendly neighborhoods.

 

Arlington, Virginia

There are around 30 different restaurants in Arlington, Virginia that allow dog lovers to bring along their furry friends. Samuel Beckett’s Irish Gastro Pub is a crowd favorite, with a roped in area specifically for dogs to chill out.

Bethesda/Chevy Chase, Maryland

The Bethesda/Chevy Chase area is home to plenty of open space for your pups to run around, including the Cabin John Dog Park. It features a half acre, enclosed area so your dog can take off his or her leash and let loose. Plus, there’s also plenty of pet-friendly establishments and even the annual Strut Your Mutt event.

Before you choose a new neighborhood to call home, make sure it’s suitable for the whole family—including members with four legs. These 5 key signs should tell you whether or not a neighborhood is welcoming for not just you, but your pups too!