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Outdoor Outings with Your Dog

After a long, cold winter, you may be looking forward to spending some time outside this spring. Before you head out the door to enjoy the nicer weather, consider these 10 ways your dog can join in on the fun, and make sure you follow the five tips for preparing him for the outside.

  1. While outside, practice training basics. Before you begin enjoying the great outdoors with your dog for more extended periods of time, make sure you both remember all your proper walking commands. Find a quiet spot free of distractions, and refresh your dog's knowledge of training basics, especially those skills that will help keep him safe outside. The practice will probably help you, too, as you both learn how to give and receive training commands.
  2. Visit a dog park. Does your dog get along well with other dogs? Find a dog park near you where your dog can socialize with other dogs. Of course, you will want to stay nearby to ensure other owners are as conscientious as you about their dogs' behavior. Take your cues from your pet--if he seems stressed or uncomfortable, try coming back when the park is less crowded, or find another way to spend time outdoors together.
  3. Go to a dog-friendly beach. Dog beaches may have more room for dogs to run and play than dog parks--and there's the added bonus of water! Toss a ball into the waves or the glassy waters of a lake, and let your canine friend fetch until you're both tired and happy.
  4. Just get out and walk! After spending most of your hours indoors during the colder winter months, it will feel great to stretch your legs on a walk around the block. Take your dog with you so he can benefit from some exercise, too.
  5. Check out a new neighborhood. When you and your dog are back into a walking routine that keeps you outdoors for longer periods of time, start walking through new neighborhoods and explore your hometown. Consider driving to scenic areas in nearby towns for walking adventures, too.
  6. Learn a new game together. Tired of the same fetch routine with your dog's old ball? Head to a local park and learn a new game, such as Frisbee.
  7. Take your small dog for a bike ride. As you tune up your bike for rides during the warmer months, consider purchasing a small carrier made specifically to transport your small dog on your bike. Now you can ride in style to the dog park together!
  8. Enjoy water sports together. Tossing the ball into the waves at the dog beach is fun, but your dog may also enjoy kayaking or paddle boarding with you. Outfit your pet in a lifejacket made just for him, then enjoy your day on the calm waters with him by your side.
  9. Go camping. These days manufacturers offer a range of camping gear made specifically for dogs. Check with the campsite first to make sure dogs are allowed, then pack up your tent and your dog!
  10. Simply sit outside in the backyard! While all of these activities are good for your health and that of your dog, there's nothing wrong with simply relaxing outside in the backyard with your pet for good company.

Before You Head Outside

  1. Make sure your dog's ID is current. Did you move during the winter? Or change your phone number? Make sure your dog's ID tag has your most current information, and that the same information is updated in his microchip registry.
  2. Check that your dog's vaccinations are up to date. You'll want to ensure your canine friend is protected against diseases he may encounter while at the dog park or near other dogs. His heartworm treatment is especially important.
  3. Apply flea and tick preventatives. Outdoor excursions may also expose your dog to fleas and ticks. Talk to your vet about the preventative measures that will work best for your pet in your area of the country.
  4. Inspect your dog's leash, collar, and/or harness. Is your dog's leash looking frayed or ragged? Has your puppy grown into a new size of collar? Double check all your outdoor walking equipment, and replace anything that is damaged or the wrong size.
  5. Remember that you should never leave your dog alone outside. It goes without saying that you should never leave your dog unattended while on your outdoor adventures. Remind your children and any other guests who may be spending time with your dog that accidents and incidents can happen at any time, in any place. Keep your dog's best interests in mind at all times!

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