Dates with Dogs
by Dave

Couple having a Fun Date with their Dog
It's no surprise that dogs are man's best friend. Why? Because they're loyal, affectionate, and so much fun! If you're dog lovers there's no reason to leave your pal behind while you go on a date. Plan them into it! After all, they're part of the package too!

So, besides the standard walk, what are some of the things you can do with your pooch?

Kayak or Canoe
Many kayaking companies offer regular dog paddles that are a great way for you to get out on the water and let your dog make some friends. If not, rent a canoe and go for a paddle, just be careful if your little buddy isn't so little! Afterward have a picnic back on the beach or a nearby dock.

This is a perfect opportunity to explore the beauty of nature and let your dog really stretch his legs. Look into county parks, nature preserves, and other local trail systems for places that allow dogs, preferably off-leash. Find an area with room to run, or a stream or lake for getting wet if your pooch likes the water. Be very careful of poison oak or ivy though, dogs can get the oils on their fur and spread it to everyone!

Get out of the City
Let the little fella hang his head out of the window during your trip to the country. Play together for a bit or explore the area and then set up a blanket and have a picnic while the dogs run around.

Photo Shoot
Pet photos can be some of the best, plus this is a great excuse to take a few photos of your date and start recording those memories together! Take turns shooting each other with the dogs or bring along a tripod for group photos.

Head over to a lake, river, or ocean for some fun in the water. If you’re going to swim with the dogs, pick up a pair of booties so their claws don't tear you up and bring along a tennis ball for them to fetch. While looking into this date idea I learned that there's actually a sport called dock diving where dogs run to the end of a dock and try to launch as far as possible into the water. Yours doesn’t have to set any records but he may have a good time diving in if you throw a tempting ball or toy.

Dog Beach or Dog Park
Let your dog make friends and run around at a leash-free dog beach or park. It's good exercise, helps socialize him, and is a lot of fun to watch!

Secluded Beach or Park
Ok, so he doesn't really want to make friends with other dogs, actually he pretty much just wants to beat them up. In that case, find a secluded beach or park during off hours so that he can still run around and enjoy the area. Bring along a Frisbee or ball to kick around.

This is an extension of the hiking date where you’re REALLY getting back to nature.

Head down to the shore and throw a few lines out. Snack on some munchies and play with the dog while you wait for a bite or even take him out into a boat with you.

Fitness buffs can take the dogs out for a jog and then head over to a pet-friendly restaurant for a little freshening up and lunch.

Explore a local forest or arboretum, walk around interesting parts of town, or just head over to your local pet store for some doggie treats and a new chew toy.

Rollerblading or Rollerskating
If your pup's very well-behaved then take him out for some skating around town. This is a bad idea if he can be unruly or you're not strong skaters.

Winter Activities
When the snow is on the ground try cross country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, or skijoring where your dog pulls you along on skis.

Geocaching can be a lot like hiking if you pick the right caches, and it never hurts to have an extra set of eyes!

Frisbee Golf
The dogs will probably fetch, maul, and pretty much ruin your game, but at least they'll have a good time doing it!

Riding Bikes
This should be done somewhere with very little traffic, like along the shore at the beach. It's tempting to take dogs along when you mountain bike but they can get hurt trying to keep up.

Take them out somewhere they'll get nice and dirty and then head back for bath time! If you use a hose, most dogs will chase the water stream around and not mind getting wet in the process. Get everyone soapy, rinse off, and head inside for lunch!

Play Find It!
If you're not familiar with this game it's a lot of fun and can be taught to a dog pretty quickly. Start off with the dog at your side, say "Find it!", and then toss a treat off in either direction. Do this a few times. Then, one of you makes sure he stays put while the other goes and places a treat 15ft away in plain view. Come back and say "Find it!". If he can handle this, let him watch as you hide treats in different spots and continue to have him "Find it!". Make these progressively harder, ie underneath things, so he has to use his nose. When he's mastered this, try covering his eyes while you hide the treat and see what he can do. You'll be amazed at how fast those noses of theirs can sniff out a tasty treat!

When taking your dog out and about, be sure to follow simple rules like:

  1. Bring plenty of water.
  2. Bring plastic bags to clean up their waste.
  3. Have a leash on-hand to restrain them.
  4. Keep them away from children or strangers who look uncomfortable around dogs.
  5. Consider bringing a jug of water and towel to clean them up before getting back in the car.

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