It’s actually getting cooler. The humidity is better. The days are getting shorter. The air is crisp and the leaves are getting their fall colors. You survived the dog days of summer. Your interest in being outside has revived. Go out and take your dog with you.
Of course, exercise is good for your dog all year long, but it is more fun for both of you when it cools down. Most dogs love good vigorous hikes so they can use up some of their energy and investigate new smells. Pick a hiking trail where the two of you can wander for a few hours. Be sure to take along plenty of water and snacks for both of you. Start with a short hike and progress to longer ones as you and your dog develop some endurance.
Most parks and hiking trails require that dogs be kept on a leash. Even if dogs are permitted to run loose, don’t let yours be without his leash unless you are absolutely positive that he will come promptly when you call him. Bring some baggies to clean up after him. If you have a very old dog or a young one who isn’t up to a long hike there is nothing wrong with doing a short one with stops to admire the scenery. Be sure that your dog is current on all his flea and tick medications. Hiking trails and parks are perfect places for fleas and ticks to hang out.
Maybe hiking doesn’t appeal to either of you. Instead you can enjoy the fall colors and fresh air at the local dog park. If your dog is socialized, he can have fun playing with other dogs while you visit with their owners. It is cool enough so that your dog can run around for a longer time without getting over heated or too tired.
Autumn is one of the best times of the year to go camping. Many campgrounds allow dogs but call ahead to check. There will be walking trails nearby and possibly lakes, beaches and streams where you both can enjoy nature. Food cooked and eaten outside always tastes better. If you are not that interested in tent camping, some state parks and campgrounds have cabins to rent. Then you can sleep inside and cook outside if you want.
If you prefer to just stay home, invite your dog to help with the fall lawn care. He will probably be better at undoing what yard work you have done, but dogs love to run and frolic. Remember when you were a kid and ran through or jumped into leaf piles? Many dogs like to do that, too. If your dog is older, he may want to simply relax in a big pile of leaves. You can rake it all up later.
Some of the old reliable activities are even better in the fall. Play dates, playing fetch or tossing a flying disc for him are always good activities that are both fun and let him get some exercise. You can also play football with your dog. He probably can’t handle a full-sized football, but a foam one would be perfect. Let him win some times. You could also try blowing bubbles for him or getting a sandbox and burying toys in it for him to find.
In the fall, pumpkin scented and flavored things are everywhere. Don’t let your dog miss the fun. Take your dog pumpkin picking. He may not be especially interested in the actual pumpkin picking process, but he will like walking around the pumpkin patch with you. Check with the owner to see if it is all right to bring him and then keep him on a leash while you are there. A lot of dogs like the taste of pumpkin and it’s good for them. Biscuits and treats made with pureed pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling, are easy to make. Here is a recipe my daughter uses. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine ½ cup of canned pumpkin, ½ cup of water, ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl. Gradually add ½ cup of oatmeal and 2 cups of whole wheat flour. Form a ball of dough. Roll to ¼ inch thickness and cut with a cookie cutter. Sprinkle with a little pumpkin pie spice and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 30-40 minutes.
You and your dog can get into the Halloween spirit by dressing up in costumes and going trick or treating with your kids. If your dog isn’t comfortable in a costume, let him come along as a dog. He will still have a good time. Always keep him on a leash, however.
If you want to adopt a dog to enjoy autumn with, visit the Pittsburg County Animal Shelter at 1206 N. West Street in McAlester. The hours are 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday. The phone number is 918-423-7803. The adoption fee for a dog is $20. All have been spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped.