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How to Plan a Dog’s Day Out

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english bulldog on a beach with a gray and red harness blue tag and black leash

Whether it’s a trip to the park to catch a frisbee or an outdoor café to people watch, a dog’s day out is a fun way to bond with your best friend. With a little planning, you can make sure it goes off without a hitch.

Is Your Pooch Ready for a Dog’s Day Out?

If you have a young, curious, energetic furball who is still discovering the world, an outing might be overwhelming for you both. You may want to wait until they mature a little and have more training under their collar. Here are some other things to consider before you plan a dog’s day out:

    • Good manners: Does your dog jump up on everyone they meet? Pace and whine when they’re bored? Or try to steal food from the table? Then you have some extra training to do before you can take them to certain places.
    • Command control: Your dog should understand basic commands, such as sit, stay, come, down, and drop it. They should also be able to follow your commands even when there are noises and distractions vying for their attention.
    • Leash etiquette: You’ll want to make sure your dog walks nicely on a leash. This means no pulling or lunging at animals or people as they pass by.
    • Indoor leash skills: If you plan to visit an indoor space, your dog will need to master walking on a leash inside, which can feel different than outside. There can be tighter spaces to maneuver around and more obstacles to navigate.

Will Your Dog Enjoy a Day Out?

Some dogs love going out on any kind of adventure with their human. Others like certain types of outings but aren’t up for just anything. And still, others prefer to stay at home where they feel safe and comfortable.

Before you plan your day out, think carefully about your dog’s personality and natural tendencies. For instance, do they get overly excited in crowded areas? Does a noisy atmosphere make them anxious? Or are they relatively chill in most situations? This can help you plan a day that they’ll enjoy, which means less stress and worry for you.

If your dog is new to outings, you might not know what to expect in different situations. In this case, you might want to start slowly. Take them somewhere close to home where you wouldn’t expect a lot of noise or people. Once they get used to that situation, you can gradually get more adventurous with your outings.

You can also prepare them with some home training. If you’d like to take them to a loud place, turn the television on in the background while you work on their commands. This can help teach them to focus on your voice over the commotion. In addition, you can practice your indoor leash walking around the furniture in your kitchen or living room.

Does your dog act aggressively in certain situations? Learn how to address dog behavior problems.

Tips for a Successful Dog’s Day Out

You should always confirm that the place you’re going to is fine with dogs. You can look for information online, but it’s safest to call them in case the website information is out-to-date. Be sure to ask if there are any special dog-related rules you need to know in advance. Other dog’s day out tips include:

  • Remember, not everyone loves your dog like you—at least not yet. Some people may be nervous around unfamiliar pups, or they may have allergies. If your dog is excited to greet someone, ask them politely for permission first. And don’t be offended if they say no.
  • Schedule your visit after your dog normally poops or try to get them to go before you leave the house. This can avoid the embarrassment of watching your dog squat in the middle of a public space. Regularly scheduled meals can help establish a routine bathroom time.
  • Consider leaving the retractable leash at home. While these leashes work well in open spaces, they make it harder to keep firm control of your dog. They can also get easily tangled around objects or legs and cause accidents.
  • Check the weather before you go and bring any necessary gear. For instance, if it’s hot and sunny, pack extra water and dog-safe sunblock since dogs can get sunburn too. If there’s rain in the forecast, bring along an umbrella and a doggy raincoat if your pup likes to wear one.
  • Make sure your dog is wearing a sturdy collar with an ID tag that has your current contact information. Your dog should also be microchipped to help ensure a safe homecoming in case something happens.

You’ll also want to ensure your dog is healthy and up-to-date on their vaccines. And, if your pooch gets hurt, you can go to any nearby veterinarian or animal hospital with our coverage. Learn how it works.

dog hiking with a yellow backpack and black leash

Packing Checklist

If you’re just going out for a quick jaunt at the local dog park, you might not need to pack much for your dog. But if you’re heading out for a longer or more involved adventure, you’ll want to plan ahead. Depending on the day, you may want to bring these essentials:

  • Leash
  • Treats
  • Dog food
  • Fresh water
  • Bowls (collapsible bowls travel well)
  • Balls or other toys to play with together
  • Puzzle-toys to keep them busy on their own
  • Dog-safe wipes for messes
  • Extra waste baggies
  • Blanket if they’ll be laying on the ground

Fun Dog’s Day Out Ideas

Common dog day outings include pet stores, dog parks, national parks, hiking trails, and beaches. But there are some you might not have thought of yet. How about a sculpture garden? You and your dog can take in some art while you enjoy the great outdoors. Or maybe there’s a street fair or outdoor music festival that might be fun for you and your dog.

Lots of dogs also enjoy a trip through the drive-through to grab your daily caffeine or pick up lunch. Some even have special treats for dogs on their menus. And of course, coffee shops and restaurants can be great places to hang out and people watch with your dog, especially if they have outdoor seating.

Another creative idea is to take your dog to a drive-in theater. You can even choose an animal-themed movie like “The Secret Life of Pets,” “Max,” or “The Legend of Tarzan” that will grab their interest.

Looking for dog-friendly trips near you? Search for places to go and get help planning your day at websites like Bring Fido and Go Pet Friendly.

What About Cats?

Cats are probably best left at home unless it’s a necessary trip to the veterinarian. Most felines are homebodies who prefer to be in their familiar surroundings. Your cat may get anxious or upset on an adventure.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t shake things up at home for your feline friend. For instance, set up an obstacle course around the living room or get cozy on the couch and watch a nature program together.

Whether you have a cat, dog, or both, you should make sure they have a rich environment. Pets need plenty of physical and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy.

The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

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