So you’ve made it through the dog days of summer. Now that the heat and humidity levels have eased, you and your dog can look forward to a new season of hiking, pumpkin picking and more. Why not add some of our favorite dog-friendly activities to your fall bucket list? These ideas will help keep you and your furry pal active and healthy all autumn long.
The colors are radiant, the air is crisp and you and your dog can cover more ground before breaking a sweat than during the hotter months. Now is the perfect time to enjoy the great outdoors!
Before heading out, check to make sure dogs are permitted on your chosen trail. Always bring:
A leash; most trail regulations stipulate that dogs must be leashed
Fresh drinking water for both of you
Something yummy to munch on — trail mix for you and a tasty DENTASTIX™ treat for your pup
Bags to scoop your dog’s poop
If your dog isn’t up for a long hike, there’s nothing wrong with a shorter trek. The fresh air and scenery will still do you and your dog good.
Dog Park Adventures
Not in the mood for a hiking trail? Enjoy the beauty of the season and some canine companionship at your favorite dog park. The crisp fall weather brings out dogs and owners who took refuge in their air-conditioned homes during the summer.
Make sure your pup has a collar and leash for your trip to the dog park, and pay attention to whether areas are marked as leashed or off-leash.
Remember to keep an eye on your dog at all times to make sure they’re not getting into trouble or a disagreement with other dogs. Above all, have fun!
Remember the fun you had as a kid jumping into leaf piles? Lots of energetic dogs enjoy this type of autumnal mayhem, too. For older dogs, a fluffy leaf pile can be a nice bed to relax in.
Turn your yardwork into a bonding activity by raking or blowing leaves into one big pile or several smaller piles around your yard. Just make sure there’s nothing hidden in the leaf pile, like a branch or rock, that could hurt your dog.
While your dog probably isn’t interested in picking pumpkins, they’ll undoubtedly enjoy walking around the pumpkin patch with your family. Check with the pumpkin patch’s owner to make sure the location is dog-friendly. And keep your pooch on their leash, of course.
Speaking of pumpkin, did you know many dogs enjoy the taste of this classic fall flavor? Try adding a dollop of plain canned pumpkin to your dog’s food and see if it gets their tail wagging.
You and your dog can get into the holiday spirit by dressing up in costumes and hitting the streets with your kids for some trick-or-treating. Bonus points if your costumes coordinate! Just make sure your dog is comfortable in their costume. If they protest, let them go trick-or-treating as … a dog. And always keep your pup on a leash.
Important trick-or-treat safety reminder: Keep candy — especially chocolate — away from your dog. While you and the kids enjoy the Halloween candy you collected, give your pal a tasty treat of their own.
Check local listings to see if any pet parades are scheduled in your area. Many towns hold these popular events for dogs in the fall. Can’t find one close by? Consider partnering with a local animal organization and starting your own!
Many pet parades have fun themes, such as “harvest” or “Halloween,” and may require costumes — the perfect opportunity to show off your pup’s cutest, creepiest or funniest ensemble! Check for other fun activities for your dog before or after the parade, such as a best-trick contest or a pet expo.
Cozy Up Together
While fall offers lots of fun outdoor activities for you and your pup, dogs — and humans! — need some quiet relaxation time, too. The cooler evenings are a great time to cuddle up with your dog and a blanket to read a book, watch TV or just enjoy some quiet time together.
Playing and having fun helps to eliminate stress from your life—and the same holds true for your dog. In fact, incorporating various forms of play into your dog's daily routine is vital to helping him develop a healthy, loving personality.
The benefits of play
Here are some of the ways that playing and having fun is important:
Physical health. Active play helps keep your dog's heart healthy, keeps the joints lubricated, and improves his overall balance and coordination.
Mental health. Games with rules force your dog to use his brain, not just his body. This can help keep his mind sharp and focused.
Social skills. When your dog plays with other dogs and other people, it helps improve his overall social skills. He learns basic rules and how to play by them.
Bonding. Even if it's only for a few minutes a day, playing with your dog helps strengthen the bond between you.
Your health. What better way to alleviate the stress of a busy workday and get a bit of exercise than to come home and play with your dog? It's a win-win for both of you.
How to play with your dog
There are right ways—and wrong ways—to play. The most important thing to remember is that you're the boss. You decide what games should be played and you set the rules. This helps establish your credibility as the pack leader. It also helps keep your dog from getting overly excited and out of control while you play. If your dog does become difficult to manage, simply put a stop to the game until he calms down again.
When you're teaching your dog a new game, reward him when he does well. Remember, rewards don't have to be just treats. You can also reward him with his favorite toys or lots of hugs and praise.
When you start out teaching your dog a new game, keep it simple and go through the game slowly, until your dog fully grasps the rules. Also, wait until he fully understands one game before you teach him a new one, otherwise it will end up confusing him.
Avoid games like keep away, wrestling, or tug-of-war. Those games encourage biting or dominant, aggressive behavior.
Stay in control of the game at all times. Show your dog that you're the pack leader, not just another member of the pack. Retrieval games are good at teaching control.
Don't include your body or clothing as part of any game.
Incorporate the SIT or DOWN and STAY commands in every game.
You decide when it's time to end the game, not your dog. The best time to stop the game is when your dog is still eager to play.
If, for some reason, your dog doesn't seem to understand the game at some point, go back to the beginning, or simply leave it and try again a few days later. Don't get angry if you're dog isn't "getting it" right away. Remember it's supposed to be a fun experience for both of you!