As the leaves turn and the smell of pumpkin spice fills the air, it can feel like dog-friendly adventures are out of season. Don’t worry, we at S’wooft have done the research and have some great tips to make sure you get the most out of the Chicago Autumn.
Here are our top picks to have your best dog-friendly Fall in Chicago:
Play out Patio Season until the last moment
An important reminder to dog owners everywhere that the end of summer does not mean the end of patio season! Officially, dog-friendly restaurant patios throughout the city of Chicago stay open until the end of October. This obviously depends on the weather, but if you catch a nice evening in September/October and feel like strolling to your favorite neighborhood haunt, you have the option to take your dog with you and make a walk out of it.
Similarly, if you are just heading out for that first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the year, remember that many coffee shops will offer puppuccinos for your canine companion upon request. Dogs go crazy for these little cups of whipped cream and that means everybody gets a treat.
You can also check out special patio events and fundraisers such as the Patio Puppy Party on Sept. 28th to benefit the Anti-Cruelty Society.
Get Spooky with some Pet Parades
If you are a fan of all hallowed season, then you and your dog should absolutely head to one of the many dog Halloween parades that take place all over the Chicagoland area. These vary dramatically from the Spooky Pooch Parade at the Chicago Botanic Garden (which you should absolutely take advantage of because they are not open to dogs during the rest of the year), to costume contests at Chicago's local dog parks. These events can get crowded, so this is one for social beasts; human and canine alike.
Get Rural with some Apple Picking and Pumpkin Patches
What is more autumnal than heading out to a pumpkin patch or an apple orchard as the leaves change around you? Not only does this present photo opportunities for Instagram enthusiasts, but practically speaking it creates an opportunity for pie making... and let’s face it, everyone wants pie. There are plenty of Chicagoland spots that make it easy to take the whole family for a fun day out.
One of our favorites is Abbey Farms in Aurora, even though dogs have to stay out of the corn maze, the whole experience of relaxing with a drink and our perfect pumpkin makes this a fantastic way to spend an autumnal afternoon.
If you’re looking for double the fun and you’re not afraid of a little travel, then you might want to head out to Richardson Adventure Farms in Spring Grove. This spot has a multitude of fall activities that the whole family will love and dogs are welcome to come along for the ride. Team S’wooft actually spent our 2017 Fall Outing there and LOVED it - dogs everywhere!
Live that Dog Park Life
Illinois has some exceptional dog parks if you are looking for a little exploring this Fall. If you haven’t ventured out to some of the larger dog parks that the area has to offer, then Autumn is absolutely the time to take your pet out for the dog park experience of their lives. Depending on how far you want to travel, there are different experiences to be had:
If you want to stay a little closer, then a short drive up to Prairie Wolf Dog Park is the one for you. With forty acres of off leash play area, trails, and even a lake, you will get good use of the washing station on your way out of this doggy dreamland. Be aware that along with the majority of the Lake County Dog Parks, you do have to pay for parking at Prairie Wolf but if you download the Park Passport App then that is easily taken care of and in the off-season, it is a little cheaper.
If you feel up to a road trip and you would prefer not to pay for parking, then you should absolutely stretch yourself and head up above that state line into Wisconsin where, without paying for parking, you can enjoy the Johnson Dog Park just west of Racine. We know, we know, this isn’t in the Chicago land area, but if you want to swing by the Kenosha outlets (where leashed dogs are welcome) and make a day of it, it is absolutely worth the trouble. With 28 acres of well-fenced, off-leash fun, your dog will thank you for the journey.
Time for Indoor Activities
During the more inclimate months, take the opportunity to enjoy some indoor activities with your pup. This is the perfect time of year to enroll in a class; learning agility or becoming a canine good citizen are both great ways to exercise the body and mind of your dog when going outside starts to feel less appealing and everybody is getting a touch of cabin fever. Training schools all over the city offer classes at different price points and experience levels so you can find the fit that’s right for you.
If you feel like training is not where you want to be right now, don’t worry, there are groups and locations that offer the chance for indoor puppy play dates in training centers. You can also check Meetup.com and Facebook for groups that exist just for puppy play dates! You can take Fido for a little puppy party as long as they are fully vaccinated and dog social. This is a great option if you are not regulars at doggy day care but you would like a little outlet once in a while.
Be Prepared for when the dog can’t come
If it comes down to it and you just have too many social engagements booked up for the fall season, don’t forget that you can always get pet care or a pet sitter. Here at S’wooft, we make sure that all of our pet sitters are fully qualified in canine first aid and will offer the best possible experience for your pet. If you absolutely can’t take your dog along for your Fall festivities, remember we’re here to make sure they still enjoy a breezy Chicago Autumn.