Dog Walking Tour: Top 5 Considerations

Everyone knows to research a guided walking tour on a vacation but did you ever think about booking a dog walking tour? Guided tours are my #1 recommendation for learning about the locale (as well as getting a local’s recommendations on what to see and do) when you go on vacation.

When I decided to take my first 2022 road trip to North Carolina with my 11-month-old puppy and two Siamese cats, I knew I wanted to make them happy. For my cats, this means a cozy bed with a lock on the bedroom door so no surprise visits from the puppy. (Check out my post on “Traveling Cat: On The Road” for advice on how to keep your felines comfortable on a long drive.)

My two Siamese cats (Henry & Eliot)

But Mr. Activity (aka my Golden Retriever puppy) doesn’t ever want to stay back at the cabin. So taking him on all my outdoor vacation activities was a big priority. Plus I felt guilty leaving him behind in his crate at the Airbnb. But he could not be left out to roam because he will try to eat anything in his path.

Research Dog-Friendly Outings

SO I decided to book a dog hiking adventure with One Dot Adventures during my recent vacation in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina. I contacted owner Brendon Voelker on Wednesday and he was completely booked for the following four days. But we were able to get a date on the calendar for Monday. The cost was $100 for Parker’s five-hour puppy tour of a waterfall in South Carolina. He got to bring his hooman (me) for free.

“Every dog must have his day.”

Jonathan Swift

Brendon said his clients love bringing their pups along on hikes. “During the initial booking process, they often ask if they can bring their 4-legged friend along,” said Brendon. “There are a handful of hikes I would not consider dog-friendly, but it’s easy to pick one that is – and one that is often off the beaten path.”

I honestly cannot praise Brendon enough for his flexibility, good humor, and adaptability. First, he asked if it was okay if his large black dog (named Geronimo or G for short) could join us.

Brendon and his dog Geronimo picked us up at our Etowah Airbnb at 9 a.m. sharp. He covered the back seat with a blanket. Poor Geronimo had to suffer from my puppy bouncing around everywhere even though I securely leashed Parker to the seat belt.

Geronimo and Parker’s Big Adventure

We also had to block Parker trying to get into our front seat. But we all (mostly) survived the ride.

Friendly Hooman Guide

Brendon is truly one of the most passionate naturalists that you will ever meet. The 30-something guide hails from Texas but now resides in western North Carolina.

“I’m of the opinion that to truly enjoy a trail to its fullest, you must understand how it came to be,” explained Brendon. “For much of my life, I didn’t understand how extensive the logging, mining, and agriculture industries shaped the Appalachian Mountains. Along with that, there’s a layer of Native American history that is often overlooked and forgotten. To be better stewards of our lands, we have to be mindful of both the good and bad things we have done over the past few centuries. With that, when you can understand how the mountains were logged, you can notice nuance in different forests and what types of plants, trees, and fungi you may expect to find. For instance, a healthy hemlock forest will often yield a higher diversity of orchids and wildflowers beneath it, as compared to a pine or deciduous forest.”

He can customize any tour—hiking, biking, running, or driving—to meet his customer’s needs.

One Dot Adventures owner Brendon Voelker

Canine Guide

It is critical that your guide loves dogs. And I can give Brendon a 5-star rating for how he treated Parker. He showed infinite patience when my puppy squirmed, pushed, and pawed to reach the front seat. If Brendon hadn’t been using a rental car, he would have installed his guard gate between the front and back seat.

“Geronimo brings a smile to everyone’s face – mine included.”

Brandon Voelker

It is also a plus if the hooman guide brings his canine guide. Parker loved to follow the big dog and scamper down the trails. Geronimo helped out in a number of ways. Brendon said that the scent of a dog tends to keep large wildlife away, specifically bears.

“I attribute my lack of bear encounters in the last five years mostly to his company. For longer runs and hikes, he often wears a vest and may carry additional food, water, and emergency supplies,” said Brendon.

White Dot Adventures’ canine guide (“G”)

Throughout the hike, both dogs competed for finding the biggest sticks. At one point, they even played a game where one dog laid down his stick so his companion could take over carrying it in his mouth.

Two-Hour Minimum Hike

Dogs like to hike until they run out of gas. And since my puppy likes his daily 5-mile walks in Washington DC, he absolutely wanted a LONG hike in the woods. (Some of Parker’s favorite places to hike are the U.S. Capitol Grounds, Tidal Basin, Theodore Roosevelt Island, and the National Arboretum.)

“Made Fur Hikes.”


When we arrived at our destination, Parker got loose and ran down a path. Brendon helped restrain Parker while I secured his gentle guide leash. I really appreciated the help with my exuberant 11-month-old puppy.

We hiked to the Narrows on the Eastatoe Creek, one of the main sources of water that feed Lake Jocassee. “The name of the creek is derived from a historic trade route that Native Americans used to traverse between what is now NE Georgia, Upstate SC, and Western NC,” said Brendon.

Brendon helped identify the wildflowers in bloom on our hike.

For the next two hours, I learned a lot about the wildflowers in bloom. Parker explored with his nose. He also scampered among the rocks and grass with his canine guide Geronimo.

“In April at this elevation, most of the trees will leaf out and the forest floor will be covered with various types of trillium, native orchids, lilies, and various types of iris,” said Brendon. “By the end of April, it’s common to see mountain laurel and native azaleas beginning to bloom throughout the lower elevations. Many of the rhododendrons will flower in the following weeks.”

Brendon finished our tour on the top of Sassafras Mountain. It straddles two states (North Carolina and South Carolina).

Sassafras Mountain Observation Deck

“While Sassafras is short and paved, the observation deck provides 360-degree views reaching as far as Rabun Bald (third highest point in Georgia), Mount Pisgah, and Mount Mitchell (the highest point east of the Rockies),” said Brendon.

Swimming Time

Brendon was a lifesaver when we reached the hilly path descending to the waterfalls. There were steep slippery stretches with big rocks. He offered to take Parker’s leash and expertly guided him to the waterfalls. If I had been in charge, we would have slid down to the bottom.

Brendon guides Parker to the waterfall

Although Brendon suggested that Parker could swim at Eastatoe Falls, I had no intention of letting him off the leash. We haven’t completed our training for off-leash adventures. I let him play in the shallow water.

What I hadn’t counted on was the slippery rock surface at the base of the waterfall. Parker seemed to be enjoying just dipping his paws and nose in the water.

Base of waterfall

But when he saw Geronimo swim over to meet Brendon on a ledge (where he was videotaping the waterfall), my puppy decided to follow. I accidentally dropped his leash and he raced away. In a second, he plunged into the water and started swimming toward Geronimo.

I desperately called “Parker! Come!”

Halfway to his target, he circled around and swam back to me. My reward was being drenched in water as a very WET puppy shook himself. We all laughed at my crazy puppy and his first swimming adventure.

Keep calm and hug a Golden Retriever.”

Sadly, I don’t have one video to remember it because there was no time to pull out my iPhone. But I did take a photo of my very regal wet puppy looking at the waterfall afterward.

Make Hooman Happy

Parker wants to do anything I want to do (as well as a lot of things that I don’t want him to do like eating mulch, sticks, and trash on the ground).

“Love is the golden rule.”

He is my faithful companion on my daily city walks. People often stop us enroute to tell him that he is a good puppy. Stepping tall! The flag (Golden Retriever tail) flies high.

My hiking pal Parker (11 months old)

I cannot tell you how much joy you will feel if you treat your dog to a guided hike on your next vacation. If you are visiting western North Carolina, you absolutely should contact Brendon and Geronimo at One Dot Adventures to book their dog-friendly hiking or trail run tours.

If time permits, Brendon likes to stop for a beer at The Hub & Pisgah Tavern. It is located outside the entrance of the Pisgah National Forest. You can buy outer gear, rent bikes, or enjoy a local beer (which includes eight rotating taps).

Waiting for the food to arrive

Most importantly, dogs are welcome at the retail store as well as the tavern. There is an outside patio where you can kick back and sip your brew while you pet your dog.

Special thanks to Brendon who contributed multiple photos for this article.

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  • Alanna
    April 23, 2022 at 3:49 pm

    How fun!! I don’t have pups myself but what a great idea to be able to include them in walking tours.

    • Terri
      April 23, 2022 at 4:13 pm

      I agree! Dogs love to join walking tours or hiking adventures on vacaction.

  • Alexandrea
    April 23, 2022 at 4:06 pm

    Great list of important things to consider when taking your pup out on the trails. Parker looks like he had a wonderful experience! And, I love that you didn’t forget about the kitties!!

    • Terri
      April 23, 2022 at 4:13 pm

      Thank you Alex. I have been traveling with my cats for years. I love to bring them on my adventure. But it fun to include my puppy on the outdoor activities!

  • Heather
    April 23, 2022 at 4:57 pm

    I love your pets! Such great advice to keep in mind for one day when I get pets. 😬

  • Jenn
    April 23, 2022 at 5:08 pm

    We are proud pet parents too – love all the info you’ve shared here!

  • Paula Martinelli
    April 23, 2022 at 6:22 pm

    I love traveling and hiking with my dogs – this post is GREAT! thanks so much for all the great tips, and fun pictures with your puppies!

  • Elena Pappalardo
    April 23, 2022 at 6:29 pm

    Awww, this doggie post is making me smile! Great insight as always – will definitely have to keep in mind if/when I get a four-legged fam member 🙂

    • Terri
      April 23, 2022 at 7:50 pm

      I am so glad that you enjoyed. I just became a dog owner in the last year which is why I write do many posts on traveling with your dog!

  • Linda Jane
    April 23, 2022 at 7:14 pm

    Some helpful tips for travelling with a 4-legged friend! Your Siamese cats are beautiful!

    • Terri
      April 23, 2022 at 7:49 pm

      Thank you! I have owned Siamese for over 40 years. They are the most intelligent & beautiful cats. I love their sapphire eyes.

  • Ashley
    April 23, 2022 at 8:22 pm

    Aww how fun! My dog has a short battery and probably wouldn’t make it that far haha but what a fun idea.

    • Terri
      April 24, 2022 at 6:24 am

      This is definitely NOT the hiking adventure to book if your dog can’t last 3 hours.

  • Patri
    April 23, 2022 at 9:52 pm

    I also have a dog and we love to take him with us whenever we can. Since we adopted him weé become more outdoorsy.

    • Terri
      April 24, 2022 at 6:24 am

      Dogs definitely inspire me to get outside. My walks with Parker are a favorite part of my day.

  • Erin
    April 23, 2022 at 10:25 pm

    This was such a nice read. Dogs bring so much joy, and its nice to see what you did by making yours so happy. Love truly is the golden rule.

    • Terri
      April 24, 2022 at 6:23 am

      Isn’t that a great quote? I had to use it in my article.

  • Kathryn
    April 23, 2022 at 10:28 pm

    When we had a pup, we definitely invested in researching travel experiences with him in consideration. Such great advice!

    • Terri
      April 24, 2022 at 6:22 am

      Thank you! I hope my post will inspire other travelers to book a dog walking tour.

  • Hannah
    April 24, 2022 at 12:39 am

    Parker is so cute! I love goldens, but I have terriers. I would love to take my dogs on long hikes but they’re not the most well-behaved especially when there are other dogs around. All hell breaks loose haha

    • Terri
      April 24, 2022 at 6:22 am

      I absolutely understand. Parker was pretty crazy in the car with Geronimo. Luckily we didn’t meet any other dogs on the hike.

  • Emma
    April 24, 2022 at 1:10 am

    What a good idea, I’m sure the dogs love to get outside and explore just as much as we do. It’s great how accommodating they were and all the little extra things to make it such an amazing adventure

    • Terri
      April 24, 2022 at 6:21 am

      My guide at White Dot Adventures was truly amazing. I know my puppy loved his hike. He too a long nap after we returned home.

  • Daniella
    April 24, 2022 at 3:38 am

    Ah this is such a useful guide – I would love to travel more with our pets.

    • Terri
      April 24, 2022 at 6:20 am

      You should try a short weekend vaca away with the pets. It takes a lot of planning but it is worth it.

  • Hels
    April 24, 2022 at 4:14 am

    What a beautiful place for your hike1 Sounds like a really enjoyable day out for everyone, particularly the canine waterfall dip. Happy future hiking!

    • Terri
      April 24, 2022 at 6:19 am

      Hahaha the waterfall swim was unanticipated but fun!

  • Katy
    April 24, 2022 at 4:26 am

    Love these tips! We bring our dogs when we can and they have a great time!

    • Terri
      April 24, 2022 at 6:19 am

      Dogs just “want to have fun” too! LOL

  • Jasmina
    April 24, 2022 at 5:47 am

    Awww I love your pets and these tips! This is such a useful guide for traveling with our fur friends!

    • Terri
      April 24, 2022 at 6:18 am

      Thank you! It is so fun to have your pets with you on vacation.

  • Megs
    April 24, 2022 at 7:07 am

    I had no idea they offered dog focused tours… what a great idea Terri! Looks like a blast! Will have to book one for my Donaji 😊

    • Terri
      April 24, 2022 at 7:14 am

      Donaji will love a dog hiking tour with you. I hope you have a blast.

  • Mayi
    April 24, 2022 at 7:33 am

    I don’t have a dog but it’s lovely to include them in your hikes, especially when they can fun.

    • Terri
      April 24, 2022 at 10:53 am

      They make it extra fun!

  • Michelle
    April 24, 2022 at 11:02 am

    These are all such great tips. While I don’t personally travel with a four legged friend, I do love seeing them out and about on the trails and at cafes during our travels.

    • Terri
      April 24, 2022 at 6:30 pm

      It is fun to meet the dogs of a city or town when you are on vacation. I always say hello (or woof)!

  • Yvonne
    April 24, 2022 at 4:42 pm

    How fun! We don’t have a dog at the moment but we have been thinking about traveling with our cat. I will check out your tips for traveling with meowers!

    • Terri
      April 24, 2022 at 6:29 pm

      Highly recommend traveling with your cats. My number one tip: listen to audio tapes. Cats are soothed by the narrator’s voice.

  • Jeanine
    April 24, 2022 at 6:05 pm

    These are great tips for travelling with a dog and so glad you get to share your adventures with your furbaby…thank you for sharing..

    • Terri
      April 24, 2022 at 6:29 pm

      Thank you! I will always remember my puppy’s walking tour in SC.

  • Annie
    April 24, 2022 at 8:11 pm

    I love this! It’s great when we can take our furry friends adventuring with us! Thanks for sharing all this info. 😊

    • Terri
      April 25, 2022 at 6:49 am

      I agree! Dogs want an adventure too on their vacation.

  • Natalie
    April 25, 2022 at 9:55 am

    This sounds amazing! Travel is the main reason I don’t have a dog yet, so it’s great to hear that it’s still possible to go on great adventures with a dog. Sounds like both hooman and dog had a great time!

    • Terri
      April 26, 2022 at 5:49 am

      We had a blast! I just have to figure out more domestic travel adventures where I can bring my pets. I hope you get a dog one day.

  • Amanda
    April 25, 2022 at 4:51 pm

    Aw this is so fun. I loved adventuring with my last dog, and now our puppy is getting to experience them as well. Parker escaping was probably quite a stressful moment! Haha.

    • Terri
      April 26, 2022 at 5:48 am

      Totally stressed! I couldn’t believe how quickly he got away. But I will never forget this dog tour! I bet you lots of adventures ahead with your puppy! They love to hike.

  • Krista
    April 28, 2022 at 10:42 am

    I would love to travel with my dog at some point. There are a lot of things to take into account so thanks for sharing!

    • Terri
      April 30, 2022 at 5:55 pm

      You definitely have to be prepared for the worst, such as aggressive or off-leash dogs on the trail. But you also have a guide to assist.

  • Lyne
    April 30, 2022 at 10:18 am

    Those tips sound great, it’s nice to be able to do so much with your dog! I wish I could do this with my bunny aha

    • Terri
      April 30, 2022 at 5:54 pm

      Awww I don’t think they have bunny tours but they should. Maybe a farm visit???

  • Chelsea Messina
    April 30, 2022 at 12:52 pm

    OMG. I’ve never heard of a dog walking tour. It would be perfect for our babies 💜🤗 thanks for sharing!

    • Terri
      April 30, 2022 at 5:56 pm

      Your dogs deserve their own hike! You should ask on your trip with an outdoor hiking company.

  • Tish
    May 10, 2022 at 9:11 pm

    Love the beautiful pics! ESP Parker’s new buddy Geronimo
    What a great idea

    • Terri
      May 15, 2022 at 6:30 am

      Parker loved hiking with another dog!