Autumn has arrived! When the weather turns cool, Mother Nature proudly shows off her stunning palette of colors bursting with reds, oranges, and yellows. Leaves begin to fall and lay a carpet for us to have fun playing in with our dogs! When they feel that crisp air and hear the crunching of the leaves, they know some fun is in store after a hot summer. Before you do anything, please be sure to do a thorough yard check to be sure there are no hidden dangers your dog could get into. Here's a few fall activities to enjoy doing with, and for, your dog:
1. Pumpkin is Nice
‘Tis the season for pumpkin picking and whipping up your dog some healthy homemade pumpkin treats. Whether you choose to use pumpkins you picked from a patch or the canned 100% pure pumpkin (NEVER pumpkin pie mix), this fruit is a healthy addition to your dog’s diet. You can whip up some homemade treats, like our FiveSibes Maple Pumpkin Cookies recipe below.
Did you know… you can also add pumpkin purée to your dog’s diet as it is a great source of fiber and/or healthy filler? Pure pumpkin can be used to a) help calm a dog’s upset gastrointestinal tract and ease diarrhea and/or constipation, b) it can help with hydration, and c) “the pumpkin diet” can be made part of your dog’s daily nutrition intake to help them lose a few pounds. Note: Always start out with a little bit, then slowly increase the amount to where you want/need to be. Your veterinarian can help determine the right amount of pumpkin for your dog’s weight.
2. A Drink for Two
While taking a nice autumn stroll or car ride with your dog, stop off at your favorite coffee shop to grab yourself a PSL and a yummy kiddie-sized pup cup of tasty plain cream for your furry best friend. Many coffee shops are dog-friendly these days and have special treats to offer your dog and even dairy alternatives if your dog is lactose intolerant. Just remember—no sugary or sugar-free syrups for your dog!
3. Gather ‘Round the Campfire
Nothing says fall more than those first whiffs of the smoky cedar scent of a campfire. Whether you prefer a weekend getaway camping trip with your dog, or you are more of a backyard dweller who likes to kick back and relax with your furry companion, the sounds of the crackling of wood in the fire pit is so comforting and a great fall (non)activity to do! A word of caution, always be careful around campfires, and be sure your dog is with you and far away from the reach of any floating embers or flames.
4. Apple Picking
There are plenty of wonderful dog-friendly orchards and farms where you can bring your K9 companion with you while checking out the acres of apples trees. (Note: always call ahead to be sure they welcome dogs). Many places also have put up some wonderful autumn displays of mums, scarecrows, apples, pumpkins, and gourds, so be sure to bring your camera with you for some colorful fall-tastic photos! Afterwards, you can whip up some yummy desserts, like this recipe for Apple Cider Donuts for Dogs from our friends at Gone to the Snow Dogs.
5. DIY Doggy Bandana
With all the wonderful warm colors of fall, and Halloween being right around the corner, a fun seasonal thing to do is craft a homemade festive bandana for your dog. You can pick almost any kind of fabric design you like ranging from dog bones or pawprints to colorful leaves, pumpkins, or bats with styles that include tie-on or ones to slip over your dog’s collar. For a cute DIY Halloween pumpkin bandana, check out the instructions from the crafty folks over at Hound Hugger.
6. Paint a Purple Pumpkin
Yes, a purple pumpkin! Be part of the Epilepsy Foundation’s Purple Pumpkin Project with its great message to bring awareness to help shatter the fears and stigmas of epilepsy. So, while you are out hunting for a pumpkin in the pumpkin patch, pick one to decorate or paint purple and display on Halloween. Then, when someone asks, “Why is your pumpkin purple?” You can tell them that dogs with epilepsy can—and do—live happy lives. Be sure to take photos of your dog with the purple pumpkin and post them on social media so you can help spread the word. For more info on Canine Epilepsy, check out my free FiveSibes #LiveGibStrong K-9 Epilepsy Awareness Online Resource Library.
7. Roll in the Leaves
After raking leaves in your backyard, let your dog run free through the pile and watch the fun! Better yet, join your dog for a few dives into the leaf pile! The crunching of the leaves will add to your dog’s enthusiasm and the zoomies through the leaves is a fun way of exercising your dog! (Note: Be sure to do a tick check anytime your dog is outdoors). Here’s great video of a Siberian Husky dog having the best time enjoying backyard leaf piles!
8. Go for a Hike
Toss on your sweater, grab your dog’s leash and head on out for an invigorating autumn hike on a trail. Breathe in the crisp, cool air, and enjoy some special bonding with your dog. Let him/her trot through the crunchy leaves, sniff the trails, and splash in that rain puddle! Carpe diem…seize the beautiful fall day with your furry best friend! Don’t forget water and poop bags!
Did You Know?
If you have a 4Knines seat or cargo cover, you’ll have nothing to worry about if your dog gets wet and muddy on the trails! Their premium waterproof, easy-to-clean heavy-duty covers for cars and trucks will protect your vehicle from any muddy or wet pawprints. Plus, they donate a portion from every purchase to charities that help animals in need.
Dorothy Wills-Raftery is an award-winning photojournalist and author. Her canine books include EPIC Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy; the FiveSibes™ Tales children’s books: What’s Wrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy and Getting Healthy With Harley; and Buddy, the Christmas Husky~Based On A True Holiday Miracle (ArcticHouse Publishing). Her internationally top blogsite is FiveSibes™ , based on her five Siberian Huskies, and includes an online encyclopedia for the Siberian Husky breed.
Her work has also appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul & Rosie the Riveter book series, Woman’s World Magazine, AmericanPet Magazine, American Dog Media, Ruff Drafts, The Sled Dogger, and Hudson Valley Paw Print Magazine. Dorothy has been awarded the prestigious Maxwell Medallion by the Dog Writers of America Association for “Excellence” for her writing, photography, and fiction. Her book EPIc Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy received the Independent Press Award for “Excellence” in the Reference Book category and the NYC Big Book Award for “Excellence” in the Animal/Pet book category. She was named “Best Author” by Hudson Valley Magazine and all four of her books were named “Best in Print” by AmericanPet Magazine.
An official International Purple Day® for (K9) Epilepsy Ambassador since 2012 and a volunteer case manager for The Wally Foundation-Canine Epilepsy, Dorothy partnered with the nonprofit Purple Day® Every Day presented by The Anita Kaufmann Foundation for her #Paws4Purple initiative, and she created the #FiveSibes #LiveGibStrong K9 Epilepsy Online Resource Library—all inspired by her epileptic Siberian Husky, Gibson, in order to help other Epi-dog families find accurate information to help their Epi-dogs.