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Finding Dog-Friendly Places: An Interview with Jamie from Dog Spotted | Pupford

August 31st, 2023

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A couple of the most challenging experiences as a pup parent can be finding a good vet and finding dog-friendly places in your area!

In this episode, we sat down with Jamie Ruden from Dog Spotted. We discussed ways to make this process easier, and even a new tool she released to help with this issue!


  • What makes it so hard to find a good vet?
  • How can you make finding a good vet easier?
  • What makes it so hard to find dog-friendly places
  • How can you find dog-friendly places easier?

Oh, and if you’d prefer to listen or watch, be sure to check out the sections below!


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pup parent trying to find a good vet

When I first moved to New York City, my wife and I collectively spent more than a few hours in the search for our new vet. We scoured Google reviews, Yelp reviews, and even Reddit threads.

We finally landed on a vet through a recommendation from a friend.

Turned out, that vet did NOT work out for us and our dogs (even though it does for our friend).

And, we were back to square one. More searches, more reviews, more phone calls, etc.

After a couple more rounds of trial and error, we finally landed on a vet we liked… But it was such a process!

Finding a good vet can be a serious challenge, no matter where you live! Plus, if you need a very specific type of vet or specialty, that process becomes even more complicated.


While finding a good vet isn’t always easy, there are some things you can do to make that process a bit simpler.

  1. Asking for recommendations at dog parks, meetups, etc. Local people often are going to have ideas for you and can speak from their own experiences.
  2. Verifying credentials of vets
  3. Scanning their website for the specific types of specialty your pup may need

And if you’re in the NYC area, be sure to check out Dog Spotted! You can now search for vets by specialty type, procedures provided, whether they do in-house visits, and so much more!


how to find dog-friendly places

While we all dream of taking our pups with us everywhere we go, that dream can be difficult to make a reality.

Trying to find dog-friendly places can be a real challenge. Especially when very few restaurants and stores explicitly say it on their websites or map listings!

Plus, even if you find out that a place is dog-friendly, it can still be hard to know if they offer dog treats, areas specifically for dogs, etc.


Finding dog-friendly places isn’t always easy, but there are some tips to help simplify your life!

  1. Check out the restaurant/places photos on Instagram or in map listings to see if there are any dogs
  2. Ask around at local dog meetups, dog parks, etc as to where people in your area have taken their dogs
  3. Call ahead to your destination and ask directly or message them on social media

If you’re in the NYC area, be sure to check out Dog Spotted! You can now search for dog-friendly places and filter by activity type, if they provide snacks for dogs, and so much more!


tips for finding a good vet and dog-friendly places

While finding a good vet and dog-friendly places can be a challenge, the internet makes this process much easier!

And with new tools from companies like Dog Spotted, you can make that search even easier.

Dog Spotted’s tools are only currently available in NYC, but will hopefully be expanding in the near future to other metro areas.

What was the most challenging part of finding a good vet in your area? Tell us in the comments!


Devin Stagg: This is The Perfect Pup Podcast, helping you build a better relationship with your pup, presented by Pupford. Hello, pup parents. And welcome to the Perfect Pup podcast. My name is Devin. I'm very excited for today's episode for a couple reasons. Number one, we have Jamie Ruden on with us. She is the founder of Dog Spotted. First off, Jamie, thank you for joining.

Jamie Ruden: Thank you for having me. I'm so excited to be here.

Devin Stagg: And I'm excited to have you, and I'm excited for what we're going to talk about. We are going to dive into something that you've probably experienced in your life as a pup parent, the frustration/challenge/bang your head against the wall experience of trying to find a good vet in your local area, as well as trying to just find places that you can take your pup, because we all want to take our dogs.

In your words, Jamie, tell me, just high level overview, what Dog Spotted is and why? Well, before that, how did you come to be a dog person? All of us have our own story or we have our own experience of how dogs stole our hearts, and what does that look like for you?

Jamie Ruden: Yeah, thanks. Great question. I grew up in New York City, and my aunt had a house in Staten Island. Had a dog named Trixie, who was a massive dog, over a 100 pounds. To the point that when I was three years old, she could literally put a saddle on the dog and I would ride the dog as if it was a horse, because that's New York City. We don't have farmland, we have dogs with saddles.

And ever since meeting that adorable, sweet dog, Trixie, I fell in love and I begged my parents every day for years to get a dog. And by ninth grade they cracked and we got our first dog, Cappuccino, who is a Yorkie. He passed, unfortunately, three years ago, but he was an amazing dog for 13 years. And we still have our other munchkin, Taz, who's a Maltese, and he's 14.

And my passion for dogs has just always been there. And my first job actually out of school, I worked at a dog hotel in the South Street Seaport doing their marketing and events. And again, just the warmth and the energy and the positivity dogs not only provide strangers like me, but just seeing their reaction with their owners and parents and the joy they bring, it just I want to be in the space. And I have my own dog named Lucy, but we'll get into more of that later. But yeah, they're the most wonderful creatures, I think, on the planet.

Devin Stagg: I couldn't agree more. And I love. What would that make you, if you're riding a dog on a saddle? That's not a cowgirl.

Jamie Ruden: Dog equestry.

Devin Stagg: Have you thought of a name for that?

Jamie Ruden: Right. Dog girl?

Devin Stagg: A dog girl. Yeah. That is probably one of the best young person, dog experiences I've ever heard. That's fantastic. And I love it. And I love that your parents finally caved in and you got a dog. I actually did not have a dog at all growing up. And then got married and my wife had a dog. And I said, "Let's just go for it." And we ended up having three dogs. Dogs, they are an amazing part of our lives.

And on the flip side, there are so many positives about dogs, but there are real, real challenges. And we could talk about those for days. I like to keep things positive generally, but here at Pupford, we focus a lot on the challenge of training a dog, because it can feel chaotic. It can feel like there are so many alternate opinions and theories on how we should train. And it's hard to know who to trust and it's hard to know where to go for that. And what you're doing at Dog Spotted also similar in that vein of helping solve a challenge.

Before we started recording, I recently moved to New York City. You asked me a question about my experience finding a vet. And I outlined for you what a nightmare it was of getting recommendations and trying other ones and reading Google reviews. And it was just a challenge. Tell me about how Dog Spotted is helping with that because I am someone personally who needs help with finding a reputable vet that I can trust with my pups.

Jamie Ruden: Absolutely. To that end as well, with expert advice, we have vets and trainers and groomers writing in, in what I like to call the best friend tone. Because when they talk too clinically, it's like, "What are they saying?" We try to make it as approachable and digestible as possible. And we even have a advice column where people can submit questions to our vets and trainers because, God, it is expensive in New York City.

If you ever have questions, just let us know through Instagram or email and we're happy to get them answered for you. But to your point about finding a vet, oh my God, same here. We really struggled. And we live in the financial district of Manhattan and there are 20 plus within a walking radius. That's like, how do you pick? And at the end of the day, what really differentiates the vets are I think two factors. One, their culture and two, the services they provide.

And that's why it's quite difficult to base a decision off of word of mouth because what might be right for your friend's dog may not be right for your dog. And then when it comes to Google and Yelp reviews, those are emotionally motivated. You are going to hear people saying, "I had the best time ever at this vet." Or, "I hate this vet," and just going on a rant. And that doesn't really provide a clear picture. And then third, what's most convenient. I mean, again, in New York City, there's tons that are convenient. It's which one is the right one.

What we're doing is creating a hyper localized search engine for the five boroughs. Well, it's actually live. And you can find your vet by selecting tags that are important to you. For example, let's say you're looking for a vet that offers nutrition counseling, behavior counseling, telehealth, acupuncture, cold laser therapy. I've even seen a vet that offers stem cell adding, helping the dog.

Personally, I'm not a vet, so I don't know how it works, but I imagine it helps with their bones and their energy and their mobility. It's a really great tool to cut your research, not even in half, into seconds. As I actually had a friend who had a dog that was sick with cancer, and she said she was looking for a vet that specialized in this particular type of treatment and spent hours and hours Googling and trying to find this type of vet. And if we had existed then, she could have just clicked the tag and found it immediately and saved time and anguish. And she could have spent more time with her dog.

We want to make it as easy for the pet parents as possible to find the right vet. And as you were mentioning, you're going from one vet to another, not only is that expensive, but it's time consuming, it's frustrating. We want to help make that process a lot smoother. And also for the vets, because they want the right fit client. They don't want to keep having turnover of new clients because may not be the right match for them. That's the vet piece.

And then the other part you mentioned, I believe is the dog friendly places. Who wants to leave their dog at home? Not me. Everyone wants to bring their dogs everywhere. And obviously, there's a lot of strict rules with service dogs, emotional support and therapy. But more and more as we're progressing into the future, people are realizing dogs aren't pets, they're family, they're children. At least that's how I view my Lucy.

And so we're creating another place where, other than just restaurants and bars and dog parks, what are places you can do errands with your dog, shop with your dog, go to a museum or gallery with your dog, tourist attraction? Your friends are visiting because, "We don't want to leave our dogs at home." It's really a one-stop shop, I like to thank all things dog in your neighborhood.

Devin Stagg: I love it. That really does sound like such a great thing that I know again, I can only speak for myself, it's a need for me. And certainly means that it is a need for other people. One question that I have for you on the vets, because we talked a little bit before recording about it can be a challenge to get these vets on board and get them to be a part of it.

I guess, what is your experience with having these one-on-one conversations with vets? What's their side of the coin. I know you mentioned it briefly about how they want to make sure that they're getting clients who are the right fit. But what are they experiencing when it comes to getting the right type of, I guess pets in the door?

Jamie Ruden: Oh, that's such a great question. One thing I keep hearing is the same questions getting asked over and over again. And I think that's due to lack of information online. And then I think, secondly, I don't know if you know this, that vets have the highest suicide rate in mental health problems in any medical profession.

And I think partly that has to do with, unfortunately some dog parents don't view vets as doctors. And I've heard stories where people are like, "Why aren't you doing this for free?" And it's like, this is their profession and they care about your animal. And it's just, I think there seems to be some sort of disconnect in terms of respect and that they're doing their best. And they're incredibly overwhelmed. I mean everyone and their mom got a dog during COVID.

The rate of vets hasn't really gone up, but the rate of dogs have. And I think the other thing that I think if vets were to ask me what's something to rely is just be patient. They are there trying their best and helping, and they work crazy hours. But to find the right vet, just be respectful. They'll be respectful of you. I think another thing is they're usually very transparent once you're there about pricing. And just ask questions. And yeah, I think it's just patience and respect will lead to vets being much, much happier.

Devin Stagg: I love it. I think that is important. And I do think that it's that idea of patience for people that we work with. I think it transfers to all parts of all things. And I know that probably people might be laughing, hearing that come from a New Yorker about patience and this. But the stereotypes are not all true. Okay.

Jamie Ruden: No.

Devin Stagg: I'll put it in that way. I love that. I think it is important to remember that they do have a strong desire to help our dogs and finding ones who we connect with. I think that is important as well. One question I have on the places that you can take your dog, I didn't really prep you on this a ton. I'm throwing you a curve ball a little bit.

Jamie Ruden: Do it.

Devin Stagg: What are you finding when it comes to? Are you finding that more places are becoming dog friendly? Because like you said, even 20 years ago, most dogs, it seemed like they were just in the yard. And, "Oh yeah, little Betsy's out there. Go say hi if you want." And now, dogs are becoming part of the family. My dogs sleep in my bed. They run my house basically. What are you seeing with local places and their willingness to be open and cater to dogs?

Jamie Ruden: Totally. I think with COVID, it's actually helped. One, I think, because again, everyone got a dog, so everyone's in the same predicament. With the new advent of outdoor seating, I mean in New York City, outdoor seating wasn't as big of a thing before COVID because they couldn't just take over the sidewalk. But given COVID, they now take up with restaurants are everywhere on the sidewalk. It's almost like an obstacle course navigating that.

And I haven't been to a restaurant that has said no to me with my dog if I sit outside. Granted it'll be cold soon. Or it's cold now and you don't want to have your dog sitting outside with you for an hour, just shivering. That's pointless. But I find that definitely, restaurants that have outdoor seating are incredibly accommodating. If you have a service dog, they'll usually let you bring the dog inside.

I found with places that I'm just picking up food, I can bring her inside. And I think definitely more places. I mean, I walk by to go to my favorite coffee shop. I walk by a residence and a hotel and the doormen all hand treats to my dog. It's just hilarious. And I'll just see dog bowls everywhere.

I guess I think people are just understanding that people want to bring their dogs places, like Marshalls, Home Depot, Anthropologie, Bloomingdales, dogs are welcome. As long as they're not crazy and aren't vicious, which most aren't. Yeah. It's really wonderful to see. And I can only speak to New York City because that's where I'm from. But I definitely think it's only going to get better for us dog parents.

Devin Stagg: Yeah. I agree. And I do think people are realizing that too, that there is a huge opportunity as a business. If you can say, "Yes, we are open to dogs," and it works for your industry. Saying, "Yeah, bring your dog," because you just opened up a floodgate of people who are like, "Well, I don't know. Maybe I wasn't going to go there before, but now I definitely will because I can bring my dog." I think that's very smart of businesses to adapt as their circumstances allow.

Another question I have. Probably one of the last ones just because we're getting close to the end of time, but I know you're talking about New York City. And you and I both live there. I have listeners all over. Are there plans for Dog Spotted to expand this into other regions in the future? Obviously, things like this take a lot of time and effort and a lot of bandwidth, but is there plans for that in the future?

Jamie Ruden: Yeah, absolutely. New York City was my pilot city or is my pilot city, because that's where I'm from. That's where I'm familiar with different vets and dog friendly places. But definitely the intention is to expand to other cities. Once we find our niche here and dominate New York. And once we're a household name and people recognize it, I think it'll be easier to go across the country, anywhere from LA or even nearby Hoboken.

But we're definitely focusing on cities just because there are more vets and other dog service providers in proximity versus in rural areas, there may be one or two in a town. But all the resources we offer in terms of advice and content can be applied anywhere. It's not just exclusive to New Yorkers. However, we do have content that does specify New York places to visit. If you're coming to visit, one of my favorites is a dog cafe in the Lower East Side, Boris & Horton. I don't know if you've been, but your dog can run freely and you just have your coffee and it is the best time.

I definitely think for people that are visiting New York, it's also a great site to visit, to say, "Okay, if I'm bringing my dog, I don't want to leave him or her in the hotel. Let's see where we can go."

Devin Stagg: I love it. That's awesome. I have not been there yet. I believe I've walked by it, actually.

Jamie Ruden: Cool.

Devin Stagg: I need to go. One last question that I have for you. There's a lot of pup parents who listen to this podcast, who especially are maybe more in the puppy phase, where sometimes you deal with the puppy blues. And it can be challenging and you're getting your ankles bitten. And your dog just peed on your new furniture and X, Y, and Z different thing. What's your piece of advice as someone who has raised dogs for a large chunk of your life? What is something that you've found that is helpful or something important to remember as you're going through the hardships and challenges of raising a pup?

Jamie Ruden: I think, and I'm sure Pupford will love this, get a trainer. I think, you can read and read and read, which you should do, but having a trainer, even just for one session, just to give you some basics. For example, we had a trainer come in, even though I grew up with dogs and trained, it's different hearing it from a professional.

And for example, if I wanted her to stop doing something, instead of saying, "Lucy," I should say, "No," or, "Eh, eh." Because it could confuse her by saying her name. I think one, definitely having a trainer. And there's so many great options in New York, even for a virtual session. Which interestingly, is actually quite valuable because what I've been learning is with the virtual trainers that the dog is in its true natural environ and not distracted by this new person. They're able to observe that and observe your body language, because that's a big part of what dogs are reading.

And then in terms of the biting and the peeing, I mean one, they're probably so cute while they're still doing it. But, and I'll reiterate this again, it's just patience. And understanding that, especially if you rescue, actually any dog that's new, it takes a little time for them to decompress as well, they might be anxious or nervous.

One thing I always like to talk about is the 333 rule. I don't know if you're familiar with that. The 3 33 rule is whether it's a dog from a breeder or a rescue, the first three days the dog is like, "Where am I? What's going on?" And they're just really on edge. By three weeks, they're like, "Okay, I'm feeling a little bit more comfortable, a little bit more safe." And then by three months, they're a part of your pack. They're acclimated.

I think especially just give them that time. This is new for them. It's new for you. And as long as you can be calm, communicate and create boundaries as well, I think the dog parents will be successful.

Devin Stagg: I love it. That's great. Great advice on all of that. And I'll just piggyback off that with even because for a lot of people, there are also a lot of financial challenges that come with raising a dog that many people don't anticipate. And sometimes it can look like, "Oh man, a trainer, they can be expensive." But I do agree that even just one session, even if it's just they can see it through a different that we're not able to as amateurs. We're not professional dog trainers. And so we just don't recognize things like they do.

And so even if it's just one session, getting them in your home or doing it virtually, they can help you pinpoint things that you will... Sometimes it makes you laugh when you realize, "Oh yeah. Why am I doing that? Or, oh yeah, course I should be doing that instead." But it just takes a professional's touch. I love that advice. It's fantastic advice.

This is awesome. I love what you're doing at Dog Spotted. I think a lot of what you're doing really lines up value wise or values wise with what we're doing at Pupford, which is just trying to help people build a better relationship with their dog. Have a more meaningful and enriching experience with their dog in their life. I love, love, love what you guys are doing.

Thank you, Jamie, for coming on. I really do appreciate it. I am excited to share what Dog Spotted is doing with our audience. And help especially people in New York area to just take advantage of the tools that you guys are offering.

Jamie Ruden: Thank you so much. And I'm so happy to be here. And I think Pupford's amazing and my dog loves your treats. So good.

Devin Stagg: Good. I'm glad to hear it. And for everyone listening, we will, in the episode notes as well as in the article, all that good stuff that we do along with these episodes. We'll include all the information for you to connect with Dog Spotted. All the social channels, website, everywhere that you can find the info that you need to take advantage of the resources that we have been talking about.

And one more quick plug. For those of you listening, please, please, please leave a review on Apple Podcast. It is super, super helpful. If you enjoyed this episode and you want more people to be able to find it, leaving a review is the best thing that you can do. But other than that, we will catch you on the next episode.


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