Pet-Centric Washington DC

DC Dog Guide to Cherry Blossoms

You’ll need a DC Dog Guide to Cherry Blossoms if you are visiting the Tidal Basin to see the Yoshino trees.

Washington DC’s famed Japanese cherry trees reached peak blossom stage March 22-25, 2022–which drew the crowds and dogs.

An estimated 1 in 4 families bring their canine to see the trees and participate in the National Cherry Blossom Festival, according to this canine correspondent’s unofficial survey.

Dogs. Pooches. Canines. Everywhere. Under trees. Sleeping on grass. Barking. Chasing. Growling (bad). Climbing (worst).

In the interest of protecting our national treasure, our Golden Retriever “cub reporter” Parker and his staff traveled to the Tidal Basin three times during the peak season to observe. Here are rules for pups and their parents to remember.

Don’t climb the trees

It is illegal to climb the Japanese cherry trees … for any reason, according to the U.S. National Park Service. So getting a photo of your puppy by sitting on a limb to shoot downward will not get you out of jail times. Remember park rangers will be on the lookout.

Don’t climb (or lunge) at cherry trees!

Parker’s advice: Take a photo of the cherry blossom tree and then insert your dog into the photo with photo software.

Don’t pee on trees

Yes, cherry trees need lots of water to grow strong but they don’t need the yellow version. Although your dog might want to raise his leg and tinkle on the cherry trees, be respectful. Find a patch of grass at the Tidal Basin and let it flow.

Don’t remove a blossom

Now we know there are a few people who are thinking about breaking off a delicate white Yoshino blossom to stick on top of your dog’s bandana . . . Stop! First Lady Helen “Nellie” Taft did not go to all the trouble to negotiate with Japan during her husband’s administration to get cherry trees imported in 1912 just to see them plucked.

Don’t break off a limb, stick or twig

Although your dog might want a souvenir of his cherry blossom trek, don’t break off a limb or stick or twig from the Japanese cherry trees. Yes, dogs like to proudly carry a stick in their mouth when promenading but don’t do it. You will hurt future dogs (and humans) because it permanently kills any new blossom growing from a snapped branch or twig.

Sticks & twigs are off-limit

Don’t step on the tree’s roots

Everyone knows dogs like to sniff so naturally they want to get under the cherry trees to investigate. Stop. Walking around the base of the tree will compact the soil and hurt the delicate trees. Climb on concrete, not the ground around the Yoshino trees.

Keep off the ground around the Yoshino trees

Do sit on a bench

Nothing is better than loafing in a dog’s world, especially if his human is available for cuddling. So instead of racing around to see every cherry blossom, why not enjoy some meditation time with your dog by staring at one Yoshino tree while resting on a bench? It is even better if your dog finds a stick waiting for him on the bench.

Do down dog

You’ll need to bring Fido extra early to the Tidal Basin, but you practice your yoga among the grove of trees at daybreak or sundown.

“You can’t keep a good dog down.”

Frequently, Parker and I see people exercising. You will need to hire a photographer to get the photo of down dog poses with your canine.

Down dog

Do go for a run

A dog wants to run so consider setting your iPhone alarm for 5:30 am. You can beat the crowds and get a 3 mile run with Fido by arriving before daybreak.

Sunrise at the U.S. Capitol grounds

Do turn around three times

When we completed walking around the Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossoms, Parker turned around three times then flopped down on the lawn. Why?

“They’ve been genetically programmed to trample their sleeping areas in the wild so that the grass is tamped down to make a comfortable resting place.”

After giving him some kibble, he decided he was ready to continue our search for cherry blossoms beyond the Tidal Basin. But wait! The discovery of a stick required more rest time to chomp it. Check out my cookie monster!

Do take a photo

I adopted my puppy in June 2021 so this was Parker’s first Cherry Blossom Fest. I know as the years go by that I will become quite sentimental about all his “puppy firsts” during our first year together. So I decided to take lots of photos of Parker strolling around the Tidal Basin.

Terri + Parker

Non-Tidal Basin Venue

If you want to beat the crowds, you can take your dog to walk at 10 Non-Tidal Basin Places to See the Cherry Blossoms.

Remember the slogan for the National Cherry Blossom Festival is “Rediscover spring” . . . I would add with your dog!

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  • Krista
    March 26, 2022 at 8:43 am

    I bet your dog loved visiting the cherry blossom trees! These are all great tips so thank you for sharing.

    • Terri
      March 26, 2022 at 2:00 pm

      Parker loves walking anywhere but he particularly loves trees that rain petals. He is allowed to eat the petals if they drop on the ground.

  • Estelle
    March 26, 2022 at 8:48 am

    Very clever article! Love our DC Cherry Blossoms! Thanks for good advice in helping to preserve them. Congrats on your adorable pandemic pooch!

    • Terri
      March 26, 2022 at 1:59 pm

      Awww thank you. Parker is a joy. I wanted to write this article so other pet parents will be responsible if they take their dogs to walk around the Tidal Basin.

  • Cristina
    March 26, 2022 at 11:04 am

    I love the cherry blossom season! It looks beautiful in DC. I find it interesting reading these tips to maintain and protect the park.

    • Terri
      March 26, 2022 at 1:58 pm

      There are a lot of people who break off branches and hurt the trees. It is a big problem. They put up signs to try to protect these fragile trees.

  • Val
    March 26, 2022 at 1:50 pm

    Love this ! Cherry blossom season is my fav !
    You should see them in Vancouver BC & Univ of WA!


    • Terri
      March 26, 2022 at 1:57 pm

      I bet the Sakura season is wonderful in Vancouver!

  • Erin
    March 26, 2022 at 1:57 pm

    Parker is getting so big! I’m glad you mention the tip about not breaking of the branches as souvenirs or for cute puppies to chase 🙂

  • Bejal
    March 26, 2022 at 1:57 pm

    Thee are brilliant tips on visiting the cherry blossoms and love how you’ve included with your dog how to be careful and respect the area. We are just experiencing the season in England however so much has gone now! Short lived.

  • KarlaTypes
    March 26, 2022 at 2:26 pm

    Great tips and lovely pictures!

    • Terri
      March 26, 2022 at 3:35 pm

      The blossoms are gorgeous this year in DC. They bloomed early.

  • Caroline @ PackTheSuitcases
    March 26, 2022 at 2:56 pm

    Pretty blossoms and beautiful dog!

    • Terri
      March 26, 2022 at 3:34 pm

      Thank you. Woof from Parher.

  • Heather
    March 26, 2022 at 3:43 pm

    I love how you made this from the dog’s point of view, brilliant! Your photos are fabulous, what a beautiful post!

    • Terri
      March 26, 2022 at 9:11 pm

      I really wanted pup parents to think about their impact on the cherry trees. They are just a gift from the past & we need to protect them. Thank you!

  • Elena Pappalardo
    March 26, 2022 at 4:24 pm

    Aww, I absolutely love the four-legged spin on this post! Just excellent. I really need to get to DC one of these years (was planning to go back in 2020, but we all know how that went) In any case, now I need to get a doggie after reading this, haha!

    • Terri
      March 26, 2022 at 9:09 pm

      Please come back to visit us in DC! The city is open and waiting for visitors.

  • Brooke
    March 26, 2022 at 4:40 pm

    Absolutely love seeing dog-centric travel posts! thanks for sharing.

    • Terri
      March 26, 2022 at 9:08 pm

      This makes me so happy. I adore my adventures with Parker. I just wave to share with other dog lovers!

    • Terri
      March 26, 2022 at 9:13 pm

      I hope my dog-centric posts entertain!

  • Jen
    March 26, 2022 at 4:53 pm

    So cute, I love a travel post focused on doggos! (and what a cutie pup you’ve got, too)
    The Cherry Blossoms are so beautiful to see, I’ve only seen them once sans doggie, though.

    • Terri
      March 26, 2022 at 9:13 pm

      Our cherry blossoms are incredible. I am addicted. To share share with my new puppy was pure JOY.

  • Julie
    March 26, 2022 at 5:07 pm

    I love this so much! I have three dogs and, while I won’t be taking them to D.C. anytime soon (we live in San Diego), I for sure can relate to this post. They’re good tips in general!

    • Terri
      March 26, 2022 at 9:12 pm

      Thanks! As dog parents, you know the importance of taking your dogs for walks.

  • Sharyn
    March 26, 2022 at 5:41 pm

    It looks like both of you enjoyed discovering the cherry blossoms!

    • Terri
      March 26, 2022 at 9:11 pm

      We had a blast!

  • Joanna
    March 26, 2022 at 10:23 pm

    Some good advice.

  • Kathryn
    March 27, 2022 at 2:11 am

    Such a beautiful time of year!! Love you “do’s and don’ts” approach to this popular event.

    • Terri
      March 27, 2022 at 6:31 am

      Thank you! I find so many people don’t understand the rules for humans (as well as dogs)! I always cringe when I see someone try to place their child on a tree branch for a photo!

  • Kelli
    March 27, 2022 at 4:06 am

    I really want to visit the cherry blossoms in DC or Japan! The pictures are great!

    • Terri
      March 27, 2022 at 6:29 am

      My dream is also to see the cherry blossoms in Japan!

  • Hope
    March 27, 2022 at 4:45 am

    I really want to visit the Cheery Blossoms – it’s another bucket list trip for me. Great article for anyone who wants to bring their pooch!

    • Terri
      March 27, 2022 at 6:28 am

      Everyone should see the cherry blossoms at least once! It is such a beautiful sight!

  • Jenn | By Land and Sea
    March 27, 2022 at 10:32 am

    We would love to be able to take our dogs to see such a beautiful sight! Heck, I’d like to see the cherry blossoms in DC. We missed them by a few weeks. Thanks for all the tips here!

    • Terri
      March 27, 2022 at 10:47 am

      Awww I bet your dogs would love the stroll around the Tidal Basin too!

  • Brittany
    March 27, 2022 at 10:35 am

    I would love to visit DC to see the cherry blossoms one year! My brother-in-law was just there for a trip and said they were beautiful. I love your photos, and of course, say hi to Parker from me & Sedona! 🙂

    • Terri
      March 27, 2022 at 10:48 am

      Brit I am so glad your brother-in-law could report on the cherry blossoms. They are spectacular! Woof to Sedona.

  • Annie
    March 27, 2022 at 12:50 pm

    I love Parker’s adventures! 💚 The cherry blossoms sound lovely too. Definitely want to see that for myself!

    • Terri
      March 27, 2022 at 2:19 pm

      Parker is such the cub reporter … lol! He loves to write about his travel adventures. Thank you for reading! Woof!

  • Denise
    April 3, 2022 at 7:49 pm

    I am going to have to see the cherry blossoms in DC one of these days! So gorgeous!