Since my last blog post discussed the much-needed-but-kind-of-terrifying topic of safety, I thought that a little fun needed to be injected into the conversation. Because isn’t having fun with our dogs the best part of being a pet parent? I always enjoyed myself with my dogs in the autumn season because I took advantage of the cooler temperatures. I felt like they had more energy to do more activities when the sun wasn’t blazing down upon them.
So what can you do with a dog who is up for a little adventure? The answer is a lot! It will depend on the personality, temperament, and physical abilities of your pooch though. Before planning any outing, do your research online beforehand to see if where you want to go is dog-friendly and what the guidelines are. You may need to bring a dog license and/or proof of vaccinations. For the few places that I have been to with my dogs, the policy leaned more toward ‘come one, come all’ as long as the dog was well-behaved and leashed at all times. Also, bring poop bags. Don’t be that owner who lets their dog poop and not pick it up. Nothing ruins an awesome day quicker than stepping in doggie doo-doo.
My first suggestion has to be going to an Apple Festival. This tops my list of favorite things to do in fall and it just so happens that many of them are very dog-friendly. In my area, Apple Festivals are huge artisan events which bring thousands of visitors from all over the state. Some festivals can be more subdued affairs with just baked goods and apple-picking while others are like a county fair with rides, games, and shows. Be aware of this before you bring your dog. To find out what to expect before you arrive, reach out to the coordinators on the event’s website or perhaps ask friends and family.
What if you feel a more solo adventure with your dog would be more fitting? If being around people is not what you are after, then how about hitting a hiking trail? One of my friends does this consistently to exercise her pack of four pooches. Everyone loves it and she gets to commune with Mother Nature and decompress. I am convinced that part of the reason why her pack loves going with her so much is because being outside brings her joy and they feed off that so it’s one big outdoor party. My husband is cut from the same cloth. He loved taking our dog Winston in the woods and they had a grand ol’ time doing some male bonding.
Another fall favorite activity is dressing up for Halloween. I haven’t done so myself since 1995 when my friend and I went as Sonny and Cher to a costume party. Some people love this tradition so much that they involve their pet in the fun. Back in my groomer days, I had a client who used to dress up her pug each year. Let me tell you that there is nothing funnier than a pug in a cheerleader outfit. Be sure to check your local community calendar to see if there are any pet costume contests or pet parades. These are always a hoot and it amazes me how creative people can get with costume design. A word of caution though--if your dog isn’t in the mood to put on a fireman’s outfit then don’t force it. Let her go as herself and with a straight face just tell everyone that you decided to dress your cat up as a dog this year. Then, complain that you spent an exorbitant amount on the costume to sell the idea. Let them sit with that thought for a minute then walk away giggling to yourself.
The next activity I am going to suggest is one that people have really strong opinions on so I will totally understand if you stop reading right here and skip to the end. Ready for it? It’s a corn maze. Now, I truly believe there are two types of people in this world--those who love corn mazes and those who do not. Typically, I do not enter a corn maze unless I have a herd of people with me and a dog along for the ride. If we got too lost within the maze, my hope would be my dog would be able to channel his inner Lassie and help us find our way out. It’s really a win-win situation bringing your dog. He gets the exercise he needs and you get to have a buddy with you while you are trying to manage your way out of the maze.
My last suggestion for enjoying the autumn season with your pet is really simple and easy and free! Do yourself a favor and take time to enjoy the little moments you have together. It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do. It can be a simple walk around the neighborhood or taking him along with you to pick out a pumpkin to carve. It can even be as silly as throwing some leaves up in the air and watch him roll around in a leaf pile. These little moments go by so quickly so don’t let them pass by without truly appreciating them. Our time with our dogs is so short, but the memories you make will last you a lifetime.
So get out there and have a ball!