In many social circles, I am considered to be the lady who takes her dog just about everywhere with her, and this is a fact of which I am very proud. My spouse, in fact, shares that lifestyle choice and we relish it. Engaging in dog-friendly holiday traditions is something we look forward to in our family every year, and that includes the Easter holiday and spring season. Activities with dogs are now even more plentiful with spring in the air!
Over the years, I have created some really fun April/May spring and Easter dog-friendly traditions. Recently, we also visited friends on Long Island and added a few new items to the list. So if you have a dog and want to create some fun spring Easter activities, here are ten canine fun ideas. (oh and if you don’t celebrate Easter, you can still engage in these activities just for some fun and bonding with your dog):
Easter Egg Hunt
I recently discovered a fun game to play with dogs indoors—or outdoors if you have a closed in space. Have an “Easter” egg hunt. Place dog treats or small dog-safe toys (i.e. ball) inside plastic eggs or small gift boxes if plastic eggs don’t seem as safe to you. Scatter the eggs in an area that dogs are allowed (i.e. behind things, under a couch cushion, in a corner) and ensure there are a few adults present. If dogs are treat or toy territorial, proceed with caution. We had a blast with this game over the weekend, see?
Hint: If you are a pet rescue or manage a shelter, this is a great way to fundraise. Give away things like sponsor certificates: grooming or vet gift certificates, animal treats or dog food coupons, etc. A few hours before the hunt, set out the eggs or small boxes. Be certain to make note of where all the boxes are. Charge each attendee a nominal fee and have fun!
Dog Photo Time
If traipsing to the mall to visit the Easter Bunny isn’t your thing — or if the mall or local shelters/pet supply stores do not offer dog photos with the Easter Bunny, then get creative on your own. My friends and I get together and set up spring and Easter-friendly photo sets in our living room. We play with our dogs first, get them a bit tired out and then pose them for photos. In between snapshots, we reward the dogs with treats and/or play time. Never force a dog to pose or wear a costume. Keep your patience in check and only do this if the dogs are having fun, too. Better yet, try to snap the photos when the dog is simply being a dog and in his or her natural poses.
Visit the Real Easter Bunny
Check with local shelters, rescues, and even the shopping mall, as they might have after normal business hour photo sessions for pets with the Easter Bunny. Our dog does well around strangers and other dogs. Please do not take a dog who is fearful of strangers/strangers in costumes to the mall. Never ever yell at or scold your dog for not cooperating. In addition to the photo that you purchase, have a family member or friend snap some SmartPhone shots from the sidelines.
Hint: Take your dog’s favorite toy or treat from home with you for incentive to look at the camera and say, well, “cheese?!”
Did you know more and more stores and malls are allowing dogs inside? Retailers are getting wise to the notion that stores who admit well-behaved dogs mean pet parents might spend more dollars. Sniff out a bargain with your two best friends: your pooch and a charge card, as retail therapy has gone to the dogs. From sea to shining sea, merchants are unleashing “no pets allowed” policies and letting the dogs in. Some stores allow well-behaved dogs into their establishments if you keep them in a shopping cart. Here are five pet-friendly shopping areas to check out.
Hint: If your dog is amenable to a dog stroller, this is a great way to get around while shopping with Fido. Also, if you put your dog in a shopping cart, try placing a blanket down first so his paws/nails will not feel uncomfortable against the open slots of the cart.
New Exercise Routine
Spring is a time for renewal, and many of us (present company included) might have put on a few pounds over the winter season. Either way, how about shaking things up and getting outside? Is there a new path you can walk with your dog? How about an alternate route around the neighborhood? Start by going left instead of right.
Ever consider yoga and perhaps including your dog? Introducing doga: Yoga including your dog. Our pal Carrie Boyko at All Things Dog blog is now incorporating doga into her blog posts, so check them out.
At the very least, get outside, get walking, and put the electronic devices away. Let your dog be the GPS (ground patrol sniffer) for a while.
Leashes and leaves, concords and canines: As the leaves turn, so do the grapes at America’s wineries and distilleries. What better way to spend a fall weekend afternoon than strolling the picturesque grounds of a winery, the crisp memory-invoking scents in the air with Fido along for the visit. Peruse the Virginia wineries and the Napa Valley wineries for more information.
Hint: There are a plethora of pet-friendly wineries in the Long Island area of New York, one of which we visited this weekend. Thanks to the Martha Clara Vineyards for your pet-welcoming policy. My dog and his doggie pal had a wonderful time strolling the grounds, meeting the on-site farm animals, and being by our side as we savored some of the delectable wines available.
Plan For the Season
Plan something you and your dog will absolutely do together at least once a week. If you have a dog, you owe it to him or her to set aside some bonding time. Daily walks and play time aside, you and your dog will bond further (and he will be happier for it) if you set time aside. Our pooch looks forward to Friday nights because that is “mommy and me” time: Park, pet-welcoming businesses, treats, and extra play time. Get your calendar out and mark those days off now: Even if you have to do it a week at a time.
Here are some ideas for pet-friendly things to do:
- Indoor or outdoor picnic
- Pet-friendly business hop: Even if you window shop, go have fun!
- Check out a new park that allows dogs and get your sniff on
- Play dates with neighborhood friends
We highly recommend seeing if there are any drive-in movies near your town. Here’s the link for finding them: Drive In Movie Finder . This is a fun, affordable way to spend a night together. We always have a good time as a family, away from all technology, a night under the stars, meeting lots of dogs and people, and watching movies (and the snacks are fun, too).
Teach a Dog New Tricks
Enroll in a class just to learn something new. Maybe you’ve always wanted to do agility with your dog but don’t necessarily want to compete. Find a local indoor center and ask if you can enroll for fun and bonding only.
Perhaps you want to get your dog certified as a Canine Good Citizen. Or if he or she is a CGC already, how about taking it to the next level: Become a therapy dog. Folks in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities welcome the company. Having done if for many years with my dog, the rewards are priceless.
Fido Al Fresco
Dining goes to the dogs—literally—when your pooch is invited to be next to you while dining. Be sure your dog has table manners before embarking on this adventure, but I love eating at a pet-friendly restaurant, albeit it usually on the patio. Call ahead to local eateries and see who allows a dog to be by your side. At the very least, head out for an ice cream cone and share a snack with your dog from the comfort of inside your car.
Did we miss any traditions or ideas for spring and Easter fun with dogs? Let us know in the comments below.