Remember how exciting field trips were when you were a kid? There was nothing quite like taking a half-day off of school to go visit the museum or the planetarium, breaking up the humdrumness of another day doing the same old thing at your desk.
Dogs love field trips, too. According to Beneful’s survey* in honor of National Dog Week, simple daily adventures like going to the dog park or riding in the car make dogs incredibly happy. Getting out and exploring together is a fantastic way to bond and add a little excitement to your doggie’s day.
Taking your dog on adventures doesn’t have to be a complicated affair—there are plenty of near-effortless excitements all around you if you know where to look. Try one of these easy adventures with your pooch, or get creative and think of some that are specific to your neighborhood. We promise, you’ll enjoy the break in monotony as much as your pup will.
Head to the farmer’s market
Grab your reusable canvas grocery bags and head to your local farmer’s market with Fido. There are plenty of things for dogs to appreciate there: the aroma of delicious fresh foods, the stands of sweetly scented flowers…. Just make sure to avoid the busiest hours, as you don’t want your dog to be overwhelmed by too much hustle and bustle.
Visit the plant nursery
A dog’s nose is very powerful and can detect scents that we humans, with our paltry five million scent receptors, can not. So take your pup on a smell-adventure to the plant nursery. Let your doggie enjoy sticking her nose in plants and flowers she might otherwise not be exposed to. Be sure not to let her eat anything though—some plants can be toxic to our canine friends when ingested (plus it’s not really fair to the nursery).
Check out an outdoor art exhibit
Your dog can’t appreciate the visuals of a good sculpture, but he can certainly appreciate the smells of other dogs who have, ahem, “appreciated” the sculpture in their own way. Outdoor art exhibits are great places to bring your dogs, as you are encouraged to stop and stare (or sniff) for awhile.
Enlist some help raking the leaves
Okay, perhaps it would be more apt to say enlist some help un-raking the leaves, but the idea is the same: Let your dog keep you company while you rake this fall and watch as he delights in sniffing leaves, crunching them, throwing them up in the air with his mouth, and, best of all (for him), romping around in the finished pile. You’ll likely have to rake again, but it will be worth it to see the sheer enjoyment your dog gets out of all those crinkly, dried-up leaves. Do make sure he’s up to date on flea and tick meds first though––those pesky critters have lots of hiding places in the fall.
Camp out in the backyard
If it’s not too cold out, consider taking a staycation with your dog in the backyard. Imagine how exciting it will be for your dog to get to spent the night snoozing in a tent, soaking up all the great smells of the outdoors. And if the excitement wears off? Your real bed is right inside.
Let Fluffy ride shotgun (or just safely in the backseat)
Dogs get a whole lot of enjoyment out of sticking their heads out of car windows that we humans simply cannot understand. Buckle up (you and your pup), crack the windows, and head out for a drive. Your dog certainly doesn’t care if you end up right back at your driveway—it’s the journey that counts.
Find a store in your area that allows dogs (the pet supply store is a good place to start if you’re not sure where else is pet-friendly) and take your pooch on a shopping trip. You don’t actually have to buy anything, just let your dog lead the way down and around the aisles, sniffing all the interesting new things and taking in the excitement of a new environment.
Drop by the playground
Kids are back in school, which means many playgrounds sit empty during the day. Even if your dog doesn’t have any experience with agility, she’ll likely love bounding the steps and exploring the ins and outs of that deserted playground. Just keep her on her leash the whole time so she doesn’t end up accidentally going down the slide.
Harness the power of smell-o-vision
You and your dog often have different agendas when out for walks. You want your dog to get exercise and work out energy, your dog wants to stop and smell the roses (and the bushes, and the fire hydrants, and the leaves….you know how it goes). Dogs smell the world around them much more than they see the world around them, so satisfy her appreciation for the smelly things in life by taking her on a smell-o-vision walk. Give up the urge to pull forward and let your dog lead the pace, stopping and sniffing for as long as she wants, whenever she wants.