Do not settle for another night in or leaving your pooch at home. They deserve to get out of the house, too. Including them when you go places will solidify the bond between you and your dog, and they will not be begging for attention while you are home. Dogs who are exercised regularly and given plenty of stimulation are less likely to exhibit separation anxiety and be problematic.
TAKE A WALK
This sounds like boring advice, but taking your dog on walks through your neighborhood can lead to a fun discovery. You never know what little gems your local parks and recreation department have placed in your area. Odds are, you and your dog will find a great place to spend some time. It might be a park with a dog bowl for your pooch to hydrate after a walk or discreetly placed dog run. You may even stumble upon some dog-friendly businesses.
FIND A DOG PARK IN YOUR AREA
Many parks and recreation departments in cities and towns have a website these days. There, they often advertise all the parks they care for, including those exclusively for dogs. If you are unsure or your town does not have a website, give city hall a call and ask. Once you do find a dog park and use it regularly, you and your dog will get to know other pets and their owners. This sense of community will draw you to other owners who may have tips on other places they like to take their pets. Your dog will appreciate your effort in finding a place where they can run and play off-leash.
“DROOL IN THE POOL” EVENTS
Each year, many community public pools will open up to the pups at the end of the regular swim season. This can provide a fun and unique opportunity for your canine friend to exercise and socialize with other well-mannered dogs. There is usually a small entrance fee that goes back to the community or to a local charity.
HEAD TO A FOREST PRESERVE OR STATE PARK
Forest preserves, state parks, and federal land are all dog-friendly. However, you will be asked to keep your dog on a leash and pick up after them. All states have a DNR, Department of Natural Resources, website. There, you can find out what local regulations apply to what park and if there is a cost. Although their hours are usually limited, all the parks are managed out of an office. If you call, you can speak to a local ranger and ask specific questions you may have. At the park, you and your dog can hike, picnic, and partake in some water sports if your pup is so inclined. Your dog will love you. The forest is a feast smells for their wet little noses.
HAVE DINNER OUTSIDE
Although not technically free, if you plan on going out to dinner, find a place with a dog-friendly patio where you can eat outdoors. It’s as simple as a phone call to the hostess. They may even have special tables with water bowls nearby for your dog. If you have never taken your dog out to eat at a restaurant before, there are some basic rules of etiquette to follow. Your dog should remain on the ground and leash.
Although it may seem fine to allow your dog to sit atop your lap, letting them near your food can be in violation of local health codes. If your dog is causing a disruption, it is your duty to leave the situation. No one should be punished with a bad dining experience because your dog is having a bad day.
Going to the drive-in is already a family treat, so why not invite the family pooch? Most drive-in movie theaters welcome well-mannered pets as long as they are kept on a leash and have responsible owners that will clean up after them. Bring your own pet accommodations such as a dog bed, water, and bowl, treats, and toys to keep your dog happy and entertained.
GO TO A LOCAL BASEBALL GAME
Check your local park district to see if they have a schedule of local baseball games for kids and teens. Even community colleges have fun sports you can go see. Find a spot on the lawn with your dog, and enjoy the game. It’s a great, free way to get out of the house and meet some locals dogs and owners.
Check with your local shelter and rescue groups for dog-sponsored charity events for both human and canine attendants. Events can include art exhibits, street parties, parades, agility competitions, happy hours, and many more. It’s a good time for all and raises money for the pups at the same time.
CLASSES AT COMMUNITY COLLEGES
Community colleges often offer a wide range of classes, ranging from pet first aid to dog massage. This is a fun way to spend time with your dog, while at the same time, socializing in a new environment. These informative classes are usually taught by local rescue groups, vets, and community professionals and are relatively inexpensive. Classes are usually offered year-round, so check out what interesting classes are being offered with your local college and universities.
DOG DAYS AT THE BALLPARK
Baseball has gone to the dogs! Major League Baseball has opened up its schedule to include the dogs in many of its major cities. Dog-friendly games known as “Bark in the Park” are scheduled one day each year in participating cities. Check with your local MLB schedule for your date and time. If you miss the MLB game, look into the minor league and school-sponsored events. This trend is growing!
Spending time with your dog in new places can be fun physical exercise as well as great mental stimulation. Call ahead before bringing your dog to a new event, and think ahead about all the supplies you will need for a comfortable outing.