Autumnal adventures

Autumnal adventures
Photo/DeSilva Studios

By Gina Hardter

This fall, we’re all looking for fun activities to do — and why not consider something that’s equally fun for your canine companions? Whether you are looking to travel or for something in your own backyard, here are five fun autumn activities for you and your pup.

Go on an adventure

Now that the weather has cooled off a bit, it’s the perfect time to get out and about with your dog. Consider a fall hike to take in the leaves or visit an apple orchard to go apple-picking — just make sure your pup doesn’t eat too many honeycrisps!

Find a photo op

Fall is a great time to take some spectacular photos with your dog. Check out a pet-friendly pumpkin patch and snap a photo of them posing amongst the gourds or wait until the spooky season sets in and get a pic of their Halloween — or Howl-O-Ween — finery.

Create fall accessories

Autumn is all about the clothes, and your pet can look just as snazzy as you do. Consider crafting a fall-themed bandana from some stylish spare cloth and markers or embroidery. You can even decorate a collar with your own fall artwork, but make sure it fits properly and you include your dog’s tags on it when you’re done. Bonus: If your jack-o-lantern skills are expert level, you could even carve your pumpkin to complement your canine companion.

Make yummy fall treats

Fall is the season of pumpkins, and that goes for your pet too. Most dogs love pumpkin flavoring, and you can bake your own pumpkin dog treats or even make some pumpkin ice cream for them to enjoy all autumn long. Just make sure you are using sugar-free pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling, as the spices and sugar in pie filling can upset your pup’s sensitive tummy.

Play in the leaves

Northern Virginia is covered in leaves this time of year, and a good roll in the leaves can be just what the veterinarian ordered — as long as your dog does it safely. Make sure there are no wild animals nesting in the leaf pile, unaware of the canine surprise to come, or any large sticks or other items that could hurt your pup. And if you see any signs of mold or damp, keep your pooch away; that can be as toxic to pets as it is to humans.

Bonus: Check out Paws in the Park

Alexandria’s biggest pet event returns to Oronoco Bay Park, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 16. Hosted by the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria and featuring adoptable animals from across the community, as well as music, food and drink, artisans and so much more, Paws in the Park promises to be a fun day for the whole family — including well-behaved, leashed pets. Read more at

The writer is director of marketing and communications for the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization supporting Alexandria and beyond. More information is available at