Dogs are integral parts of our households, but that doesn't mean they have to stay home all the time.
The billion-dollar pet industry proves owners' devotion to their four-legged companions. In turn, many retailers, restaurant owners and businesses are seeing the sense in making their establishments pet-friendly.
LynnLee Schmidt and her Great Dane are an active duo. They frequent dog parks, trails and eateries with pet-friendly patios. They're soaking up the last snowy days on Mount Charleston before summer knocks.
When the family film "Marmaduke" was in theaters, Schmidt and other members of the Las Vegas-based Great Dane Group rented out a theater at Rave Motion Pictures, 6587 Las Vegas Blvd. South, so the whole gang could watch together.
The group plans several meet-ups -- "Danes seem to like to play with other Danes," Schmidt said -- in an effort to prove that pets should be welcome guests around town.
In Schmidt's native Long Beach, Calif., there is an area called Belmont Shore that caters to dogs. Business owners put water dishes outside their doors; there is a dog bakery and events galore. There even is a doggie Halloween parade.
"There wasn't a restaurant that didn't have an outdoor play area," she said. "I miss that."
Las Vegas has a ways to go, she said, but it's getting there.
"I feel like it's improving," she said.
Whether it's a jaunt to lunch or a close-to-home getaway, here are ways to get out with the canine sect in Las Vegas:
Las Vegans looking for a Strip staycation don't have to leave their pooch out of the fun.
Eight Caesars Entertainment Las Vegas resorts -- Caesars Palace, Paris Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood Resort, Harrah's Las Vegas, the Flamingo, Bally's, the Rio and the Imperial Palace -- welcome dogs meeting certain specifications in their reserved PetStay accommodations.
Each resort offers designated floors and areas as pet-friendly zones. Dogs staying at any resort must weigh 50 pounds or less and be present at the time of check-in. Dogs are permitted to walk through designated common areas while on a leash and accompanied by the owner.
The PetStay program has been popular since its inception in October.
"It was a demand brought to us from our customers," said MaryAnn Dennis, vice president of regional teleservices for Caesars Entertainment Las Vegas Resorts. "Our pets have become such big parts of our families. It's a unique opportunity to travel with your pet."
A fee of between $25 to $40 is tacked onto room rates. PetStay provides an amenity package of treats, waste removal bags and food dishes to make the pets feel at home.
Another pet-friendly Strip property is the Trump International Hotel And Tower, 2000 Fashion Show Drive. Up to two pets less than 25 pounds are allowed for a fee of $200 per stay.
Loews Lake Las Vegas welcomes VIPs -- Very Important Pets -- for an extra $25 per night.
THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South, recently rolled out a pet-friendly option, as well.
Guests may stay with up to two dogs, together weighing no more than 100 pounds, for a daily fee of $50 per canine.
Dogs are welcome to stay on the 22nd floor, which will be outfitted with eco-friendly food and water bowls. THEhotel's in-room dining options also cater to man's best friend.
The pitch-perfect weather months are fleeting in Las Vegas. Some local eateries put the welcome mat down to pets while their owners dine alfresco.
Capriotti's Sandwich Shop, the Egg & I, In-N-Out Burger, Sonic, Chipotle, Baja Fresh Mexican Grill and It's a Grind Coffee House welcome pets at any of their locations with outdoor dining.
Ron Schultz, pet lover and owner of the Crown & Anchor Pub, introduced the Party with your Pooch on the Patio offer at the 1350 E. Tropicana Ave. location last year, manager Michael Lawruk said.
"We get them water and whatever they need," he said. "It has taken a while to catch on, but it has gotten out there."
Waste disposal also is offered.
The patio is open to patrons 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Julie Ploeger, manager of the Mount Charleston Lodge, said the restaurant's patio is ideal for pet owners looking for a place to enjoy a meal in the company of their pooch.
"We don't let dogs inside, but the patio is very popular in the spring and fall," she said. "We absolutely encourage that as an outdoor dining experience."
The Lodge also welcomes pets to join their owners in a cabin stay.
The cost is $30 per day for small dogs and $50 per day for large dogs.
The Lodge is at 5355 Kyle Canyon Road. For more information, call 872-5408.
Town Square Las Vegas, 6605 Las Vegas Blvd. South, was designed with pets in mind.
Man's best friend is welcome in all common areas in the shopping district. While strolling about, their owners have access to strategically placed waste removal bags.
Thirsty pets can lap up at one of the many stylish "Doggie Bars," ornate tile drinking fountains for dogs.
The water stays fresh and full, especially during the summer swelter, said Mary Kathryn Wells, director of marketing.
"It's a nice amenity to make sure they can stay healthy, even in the summer," she said.
Town Square allows its properties to make the call as to whether to open their doors to pets. Many have bitten at the offer.
Pet-friendly stores in Town Square include bebe; Brighton Collectibles; Banana Republic; Cache; Aldo; BCBGMAXAZRIA; GUESS; Sanrio; Juicy Couture and Quiksilver.
Animals also are often invited to events hosted on the property.
"You're not family-centric if you can't bring your pets with you," Wells said of the center's philosophy on pets. "We make it really convenient and easy for owners to bring out the family dog."
Another pet-friendly hot spot is The District at Green Valley Ranch, 2240 Village Walk Drive.
Crystal Howard lost her job as an administrative assistant five months ago and has since spent her mornings enjoying the cool Nevada fall and winter temperatures with her dog Bo at The District.
"We enjoy coming here for our walks and just hanging out," she said, rubbing Bo's tummy.
Howard said she brings her beloved miniature dachshund to The District with her because it is so pet-friendly.
According to Howard, she and Bo can enjoy a quiet morning outside of the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and then browse the shops together.
"We've done that a number of times," she said.
Rob Benson, representative for The District, described the venue as an outdoor pedestrian mall designed to be inviting for pets and pet owners.
"We hold special musical events, live movies and music, all with the idea that people can bring their animals to enjoy the festivities," he said.
Benson said many individual shop owners at The District embrace pets, hiding dog treats and water bowls behind counters.
The District also features landscaped areas with removal bags for when puppies need to heed nature's call.
"We want to encourage you to enjoy what we have to offer and bring your pets," Benson said.
Pets also are welcome in a few valley stores, such as The Home Depot and Lowe's Home Improvement.
Taylor Fetters has been renovating his Henderson-area home for the past two months and said he makes a trip to The Home Depot at 1030 W. Sunset Road at least once per week and brings his 3-year-old German shepherd Lucy along for the ride each time.
"She likes to come in and be with me while I'm getting what I need," he said. "The people who work here are very friendly. They comment on what a beautiful dog she is. I'm a proud papa. I always give the standard answer, which is that I know."
Calls placed to the corporate offices of The Home Depot were not returned, but a local manager, who asked not to be named, said the official policy is animals aren't allowed on the premises.
"It isn't enforced, though," he added. "People bring their dogs in here all the time, and we don't really say anything."
Official corporate policy on animals being allowed into Lowe's is unclear, but one local manager said dogs with leashes are permitted.
Glenda Austin doesn't go anywhere without her 6-year-old pug Tulip -- and that includes shopping.
"I bring her with me even when I'm shopping for paint, like today," she said, adjusting the pink hat on Tulip's head. "She's my baby, and you don't leave your baby at home."
Contact Southwest and Spring Valley View reporter Amanda Llewellyn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 380-4535. Contact Centennial and Paradise View reporter Maggie Lillis at email@example.com or 477-3839.