A wise man (Josh Groban) once said, “Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day.”
This particular truth may sting a little, but it’s an important one to remember. Our dogs are only with us for a short time, and their entire life revolves around us. They rely on us for food, safety, companionship, and so much more. That’s why it’s so important to make their short time on Earth as fun and fulfilling as possible.
Enter the doggy bucket list, a checklist of quintessential adventures to share with your best four-legged friend. Your dog’s bucket list probably won’t be as long or as aspirational as your own, but thankfully, most pups are pretty easy to please! Read on to find a few ideas for your dog’s bucket list and start planning the “ultimutt” adventure.
1. Treat your buddy to a beach day.
If your woofer takes to water like a duck takes to, well, water, a beach day is an essential addition to your dog’s bucket list. Beaches all around the country allow dogs to roam off-leash, while others permit leashed dogs to dip their paws in the surf during certain times of day. Chicago’s own Belmont Harbor, Montrose Dog Beach, and Foster Beach allow pups to play leash-free in a safely fenced area.
If you live in a landlocked state where beach days are nigh on impossible, find a dog-friendly body of water nearby where Sparky can swim and splash. Pack a picnic and you’re all set for a day of fun in the surf and sun!
2. Channel your inner Scooby and Shaggy on a ghost tour.
Hound-friendly hotspots from San Francisco to St. Augustine host informative walking tours which recount the city’s haunted history. Not only will you get to learn something new along the way, but your (leashed) pup will (usually) be invited to trot along for the trip. Who knows? Your Scooby just might sniff out a spooky specter!
3. Pamper your pal with a doggy spa day.
Many pups despise bathtime, but the top-of-the-line treatments available at dog spas today are doggone heavenly. Whether you choose a trip to the groomer’s for a “pawdicure” and a bath or go all out with a face mask, mud bath, or hot oil treatment, your buddy will be begging to go back!
If you really want to pamper your pooch, book a doggy massage. (Not only is it a relaxing experience, but it can also work wonders for elderly dogs and those diagnosed with chronic pain.)
4. Visit a dog-friendly winery or brewery.
Many vineyards feature beautiful, sprawling grounds that Fido would just love to sniff and explore. Some wineries even allow pup patrons into the tasting rooms, while other breweries list dog-friendly beers on their menu. Yup, that’s right -- now you have no excuse to leave your pup home alone while you go out for a pint!
5. Go on a “pup” crawl.
Speaking of going for a pint, “pup” crawls put a new spin on the daily walk with a trip around your town’s dog-friendly bars and restaurants. Your dog gets to enjoy some exercise, and you get to enjoy your favorite adult beverages. What’s not to like? Make it a night out on the town and invite all your favorite dog-loving friends. Some bars which aren’t normally dog-friendly may offer a “Yappy Hour” when doggos are welcome to join the fun.
6. Swap the kibble for a doggy dinner date.
Countless restaurants all over the country welcome doggy diners, so take a night to treat Sparky to some gourmet grub. Some Fido-friendly establishments even provide doggy menus and water bowls for their canine customers, while others go above and beyond with on-site dog parks, water slushies, and even doggy high chairs. “Bone” appetit!
7. Stay at a dog-friendly hotel or campground.
What’s a vacay without your canine companion? Some luxury pet-friendly hotels provide bedding, treats, food and water bowls, and indoor spaces for doggy meet-and-greets. (Although, it’s worth mentioning that most hotels don’t allow dogs to be left in the room unsupervised. If you’re planning to go out, why not book a walk or dog-sitting session with your local dog walking service?)
Alternatively, many family-owned campgrounds and RV parks across America not only welcome dogs, but also offer dog parks and dog washing stations to keep the canine campers happy. Most state park campgrounds also allow leashed, well-behaved pets.
As always, be sure to read up on the pet policies at your destination, and check out our list of travel tips from dog-friendly hotels.
8. Take a hike.
Spice up your daily walk with a trip to a nearby state park, wildlife preserve, or botanical garden. Your fur-child will be inundated by all sorts of new sights and smells, giving them a healthy dose of the mental and physical stimulation they need to stay happy. Plus, after a walk in the park (or preserve, or garden), you’ll have one tuckered out tot on your hands!
Before packing up the car and hitting the road, check to ensure dogs are allowed on the trails at your destination. Some state parks permit pups to explore fire roads and unmarked trails off-leash, while other state parks prohibit dogs on all trails, even if they’re leashed.
9. Try a doggy subscription box service.
If the weather outside is downright frightful, why not indulge in a little retail therapy with a dog subscription box service? Just imagine the look on your pal’s face when you surprise them with a brand new box of toys and treats! Plus, your purchase will also help shelter dogs in need. Sounds like a win-win to us!
10. Show them some new scenery.
Just like humans, hounds get bored of the same scenery day in and day out. Give your pup something new to chew on by showing them a different climate than they’re used to. For example, if you live in the desert and your dog has never seen snow before, why not take a trip somewhere colder? (Just think about the adorable videos you’ll get of them frolicking around in the snowflakes!) Alternatively, woofers who are used to the snow would relish the chance to laze around in the sunshine -- you get the picture.
A dog’s day out.
Admittedly, some of the items on this list are lavish (and a little on the expensive side). While bucket lists are indulgent by nature, you don’t need to shell out big bucks to treat your dog to a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As long as you make an effort to include them in your life and show them just how much they mean to you, your dog will be a loyal companion for as long as they live.