fun for dog parents
Pug wearing a pink sweater

📷 by Ashleigh Robertson

For mild fall climates 

Depending on where you live, you might be able to squeeze in some long days outside with your dog by your side. Here are a few outdoor activities to enjoy with your dog when the weather cools off.

1. Hiking and camping to see the leaves change

Cuddling with your canine companion near a campfire sounds like an idyllic summer activity, but there’s no reason why you can’t do it in the fall too! Fall weather means that you won’t have to trek through sweat-inducing heat while looking at trees covered in shades of red, orange, and yellow. As long as your dog is in good health and loves the outdoors, a camping trip is a safe way to spend time together outdoors.

Just make sure to keep your dog from eating outdoor plants like mushrooms, sticks, and fallen leaves, as ingestion of foreign materials like these can lead to stomach aches. Wildlife may tempt dogs with a high prey drive to run after them, so be aware of your surroundings at all times. Never leave your dog unattended in any campground — beyond being against the rules in most places, it’s not safe for your dog, other dogs and hikers, and wildlife.

👉 Dogs need to be microchipped before camping. If the worst happens, a microchip can help a lost dog find their way home.

2. Pumpkin and apple picking

Many apple orchards and pumpkin patches will welcome your leashed dog (as long as you pick up after them while you pick edible goodies). Pumpkin patches will also have fun activities like corn mazes, but you should avoid taking a hayride with your pup. Dogs can get spooked and injured on hayrides. Since one major perk of pumpkin picking is photos for the ‘Gram, make sure you’ve got your camera on hand.

Lab picking out a pumpkin

Picking out a pumpkin 📷 by istolethetv

Apples are safe for pups of all ages to munch on, as long as they avoid the skin, seeds, and core. Just feed dogs apple slices in moderation as a snack. Likewise, dogs can also enjoy fresh pumpkin as a source of fiber — just make sure to bake it, remove the seeds, and serve in small amounts. (And if your dog ends up with a tummy ache, pumpkin can help with dog diarrhea.) Bonus: the pumpkin and apples you pick can be used to make delicious dog treats.

Other outdoor activities, like trips to the local petting zoo or certain farm activities, aren’t Fido-friendly. Petting zoos will often not allow dogs in for the safety of other animals.

👉 Check the policy of any outdoor activity before bringing Fido along for the ride!

3. Visit an outdoor brewery

Dogs and breweries (as well as cideries and wineries) are a match made in heaven. Many breweries are very dog-friendly and often have outdoor patios where you can drink a craft beer with your special pup. Check your local outdoor breweries to see what their dog policies are before meeting up with friends for a doggie playdate. Some breweries will even host “bark and booze” or “hops and hounds” events where dogs are welcomed to events filled with craft beer tastings, food, and plenty of wagging tails.

Bring a plethora of treats — Entice your dog to behave well with treats. Feed them a treat when they do something right, like sitting next to you or focusing on you instead of other dogs.

Pay attention to your dog’s body language — Breweries filled with people and pups can be overwhelming for dogs, even when they are well-trained or normally well-behaved. Keep an eye on your dog’s body language for any signs of stress, like barking, tail tucking, cowering, growling, or shaking. .

Make your dog rest next to you — If your dog is visiting places with people, they need to have some basic obedience training. Tell your dog to lay down and reward them for good behavior. Bring a long-lasting chew too.

4. Try an outdoor dog-friendly workout

After all that pumpkin pie and apple cider, you might be looking for a new exercise routine. Make your dog your gym buddy. Studies have shown that dogs help lower your blood pressure, reduce your levels of stress and anxiety, encourage you to exercise, and even help you live longer. In addition to walking and jogging with your four-legged workout partner, you can incorporate some simple workouts into your daily routine. Try playing fetch with a twist: throw the ball as far as you can and complete as many burpees and squats as you can while your dog returns.

Check your local gyms to see how dog friendly they are. Some studios will let you bring your dog with you to certain classes. Some gyms offer “doga,” a partnered yoga class for you and your dog. If your local gym doesn’t offer doga, see if there’s a local yoga initiative in your area. Some workout groups will meet outside in local parks and welcome pet companions. If you can’t find a local doga class near you, start practicing yoga at home with your dog.

Dog playing in the snow

📷 by Jared

For chilly winter days

When snow hits the ground, it’s much harder to find outdoor activities that suit your dog’s needs (and your need to stay warm inside). But there’s no need to let the snow dampen your fun. Wintery weather means that it’s time to create enrichment toys and play dog-friendly games inside to keep dogs mentally and physically stimulated.

1. DIY indoor enrichment toys

You don’t need to buy new dog toys to keep your furry friend occupied. Use household objects to create some DIY puzzles and games to mentally and physically stimulate your dog. Remember, if you don’t provide enrichment activities for your precious pup, they’ll seek out ways to stimulate themselves on their own and you may not approve of the results.

As with any toy (bought or handmade), supervise your dog so they don’t ingest anything they shouldn’t. Regularly switch up the toys and games that you use so your dog doesn’t grow bored.

  • Snuffle Mat. A snuffle mat is a fun way to serve dogs a treat or even a full meal. Create a snuffle mat by tying fleece strips to a rubber mat, or use a furry floor rug. Then hide multiple kibble pieces inside of the snuffle mat before setting your dog loose.
  • Box puzzle. For a box puzzle, place a few smelly dog treats in a small box. Then hide that small box in one or two other boxes. Your dog will have to figure out how to unbox a special treat!
  • Flirt pole. A flirt pole for dogs is kinda like a feather teaser for cats: it’s a long stick that you can swivel and shake in front of your pet as they try to catch it. Simply pull a rope through a three-foot PVC pipe and tie a toy at the end of the rope. Then have fun!
  • Muffin tin puzzle. All you need for this puzzle is a muffin tin, tennis balls, and dog treats. Place kibble or treats in a few muffin tin holes before covering all of the holes with tennis balls. Then let your dog sniff and move the balls to uncover their treats.

2. Play these dog-friendly games

One key to keeping your dog happy and healthy while cooped up inside (without driving you crazy) is by playing games together. Playing together helps you bond better with your canine companion. Plus, a dog that’s using their mind and body is less likely to engage in destructive behaviors due to boredom. These dog-friendly games are just a few ideas to start with. Pay attention to what your dog loves playing and go from there!

  • Hide and seek. This game doesn’t require any toys or tools. Tell your dog to sit or stay, then hide in another room before calling your dog. This is a great game for kids and dogs to play together!
  • Scavenger hunt. Set up a scavenger hunt so your dog has to seek treats that are hidden. Hide pieces of kibble or small treats around the house so your dog has to move about to find everything.
  • Scent games. Even dogs who aren’t natural scenthounds will get to work sniffing out treats. Scent games stimulate your dog’s nose, mind, and body as they hunt hidden treats. Try hiding food dispensers
  • Obstacle course. What dog doesn’t love bouncing, running, and jumping? Create a DIY obstacle course at home by moving chairs, boxes, and other household items around to create a path your dog must work through. You can make a simple DIY obstacle course by stacking toilet paper into a wall in a hallway one layer at a time.
  • Fetch and tug. Fetch and tug are probably the most popular dog games of all time, but they are standbys for a reason: dogs love these games! Break up a boring afternoon in between walks with a quick game of fetch or tug of war.

3. Visit an indoor dog park

Indoor dog parks are an amazing way to get your canine out of the house. These parks give your dog all the opportunities to play with other four-legged friends without the mud of an outdoor dog park. That said, make sure your pup stays safe by preparing beforehand.

Have a strong foundation of obedience training — Your dog is going to be bouncing off the walls with excitement, and you’re going to need to be able to get their attention when needed. Practice basic commands like “sit” and “down” along with commands like “come,” to get your dog to come to you.

👉 Work with a dog trainer or in a group class to master these basic commands before going to a dog park for the first time.

Pay attention — It’s going to be tempting to surf through your smartphone, but just because your dog isn’t next to you doesn’t mean they don’t need you. You need to watch your dog for signs of reactivity, anxiety, and exhaustion, and make sure that there’s no bad dog behavior going on. Additionally, plan on staying for no more than an hour — any more than that, and your dog might get bored or tired and start acting out.

Pack a doggie bag — You wouldn’t leave the house with an infant without a diaper bag. Likewise, bring a bag full of dog necessities: an extra leash, first-aid kit, water bottle, bowl, poop bags, paper towels, and treats. The treats will come in handy when it’s time to leave!

4. Go outside and play in the snow

If you want to build a snowman, or have kids planning a snowball fight, take your dog outside to enjoy the fun! Dogs often love playing in the snow as much as people do, but just like children, they need to be bundled up in boots and coats. Alternatively, meet up with friends or family members with dogs at a local dog park or someone’s backyard for a snowy playdate. They’ll burn a lot of energy playing together before retreating inside to rest.

Athletic large breeds can participate in skijoring, a fun winter activity where dogs pull people around on skis. Hook a harness on your dog, put on your skis, and glide along the snow as your dog runs. Obviously, only participate in this activity if your dog is obedient and healthy enough. Introduce your dog to the activity slowly, and if they don’t enjoy skijoring, stop immediately.

👉 If it’s too cold outside for you, it’s too cold for your dog.

Dog in the snow wearing a red coat

📷 by Gabriel Tamblin

Must have cool weather gear

Every dog needs a few winter weather staples before venturing outside. Make sure you have the following items before the weather turns cool.

For outdoor conditions

  • Paw booties. Protect your canine companion’s precious paws from outdoor irritants like salt, ice, and snow with paw booties. For added comfort and stability, choose dog booties with foam padding to ensure they’re snug on your doggie’s feet.
  • Protective paw balm. All that walking and playing wear down a dog’s paws. In cold weather, all dogs need a little extra help to prevent and heal cracked, dry paws. Regularly rub dog paw balms to soothe and restore their paw pads. PawTection creates a protective barrier between your pup’s paws and the ground to prevent irritation.
  • Winter coat. Some dog breeds, like Huskies, Akitas, and Pomeranians have a double coat layer to insulate them from the cold. But dogs with only one coat layer and senior dogs need a dog coat that keeps them warm outside. We like MIGOHI’s windproof doggie coat for those cold windy days (plus it comes in several colors).
  • Sweater. Sometimes dogs need an extra layer outdoors without the bulk of a winter coat. Plus, dogs always look adorable in a dog sweater.
  • Wet wipes. If your dog doesn’t wear paw booties outside, you really need to wipe their paws down after each walk. This protects both your pup’s paws and your house from mud streaks and chemicals on the ground. Earth Rated compostable wipes are hypoallergenic doggie wipes that won’t irritate your pup’s skin.

For indoor activities

  • Rope toys. A game of tug-of-war is hard to do without something to tug! If you don’t have a rope toy lying around already, cut an old t-shirt into strips and braid them together to make a DIY rope toy. Only allow your pup to play with this toy under direct supervision to make sure they don’t eat any pieces.
  • Indoor agility course. You can buy an indoor agility course kit, or make one yourself with a hula hoop and broomsticks. Agility course equipment can be used to make indoor obstacle courses or for training for dog sports.
  • Kong. Stuff a Kong with peanut butter or kibble to keep any canine companion occupied for a solid half-hour. Your dog will be happily focused on retrieving their food — and distracted from any warm food you’re making in the kitchen.
  • A thick blanket just for your dog. After all that playing, your precious pup might need some time to themselves. Dogs living in drafty homes set to a cool temperature (like 70 degrees Fahrenheit) may especially benefit from a little extra warmth. Place a blanket loosely over your dog while they recline in their dog bed.