The ultimate dog-friendly picnic guide 

The ultimate dog-friendly picnic guide 

Get ready, set, picnic! With these handy tips, you and your pooch will be all set for a delightful day out and you can make sure your furry friend isn’t left out of the picnic fun. This go-to guide for picnicking with your dog covers everything from choosing the perfect picnic spot that welcomes dogs to packing delicious and dog-friendly treats. 

Why have a dog-friendly picnic? 

Dogs, just like humans, need fresh air, exercise and mental stimulation. Picnics allow them to explore new environments, socialise with other dogs and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. It’s an opportunity for them to release pent-up energy and experience a change of scenery. It’s also a great way to bond with your furry friend. 

Choosing the ideal spot for your dog-friendly picnic 

When selecting a picnic spot, it’s important to find a location that not only welcomes dogs but also offers a safe and comfortable environment for them. Look for parks or open spaces that have designated dog-friendly areas or allow dogs on leashes. Avoid crowded places where your dog may feel overwhelmed or where there are restrictions on dog access. 

When scouting for the best spot for your picnic, make sure you: 

  • Check dog permissions: Before setting off, make sure the area you’ve chosen warmly welcomes our four-legged friends. 
  • Beware of poisonous flora: Australia’s gorgeous plants like lilies and tulips might be a treat for our eyes, but they can be harmful to our furry mates. Keep a vigilant eye out and guide your pooch away from unknown plants. For a starting list of toxic plants to dogs, check out: How to keep your garden safe for pets. 
  • Opt for shady spots: It’s always a good idea to rest under a tree canopy or create your own shade with a tarp. 
  • Keep it calm and quiet: If your dog tends to be a tad jittery, it’s best to opt for serene spots away from the hustle and bustle. 
  • Rethink the off-leash park idea: Though it sounds like a great idea, picnicking in an off-leash park can lead to uninvited furry guests. But positioning yourself nearby can be perfect for a post-picnic play session. 

Essential items to bring for a dog-friendly picnic 

Just like humans, dogs have their own set of needs when it comes to picnicking. Here are some essential items you should pack for the day: 

  • Picnic blanket or mat: Create a designated space for your dog to relax and enjoy the picnic. A blanket or mat will keep them clean and comfortable while keeping them off the ground. 
  • Water and bowl: Hydration is crucial, especially on warm days. Bring plenty of fresh water for your dog and a collapsible bowl for easy drinking. 
  • Leash and harness: Even if the picnic spot allows off-leash activities, it’s always a good idea to have a leash and harness on hand. These come in handy during walks to and from the picnic area or when encountering other dogs. 
  • Poop bags: Responsible pet ownership means cleaning up after your dog. Always have poop bags with you to show respect for the environment and other picnic-goers. 
  • Toys and treats: Keep your dog entertained with their favourite toys and bring some treats to reward good behaviour. Interactive or puzzle toys can provide mental stimulation and prevent boredom during the picnic. 

Remember, these are just the essentials. Depending on your dog’s specific needs, you may want to bring additional items such as sunscreen for dogs with sensitive skin, a portable dog bed, or even a doggie life jacket and towel if you plan on going near water. Tailor your packing list to suit your dog’s preferences and the picnic location. If travelling by car with your dog, make sure your pooch is properly restrained in the vehicle, and never leave them in a hot car unattended! 

What’s on the menu? Dog-friendly picnic food ideas 

Now that you’ve packed all the necessary supplies, it’s time to think about the food! Of course, the highlight of any picnic is the delicious spread. Since your pup’s joining in, curate a menu that’s a treat for both of you. Dogs love treats, and picnics are the perfect opportunity to indulge them with delicious and dog-friendly snacks. Here are some ideas to get you started: 

Homemade dog treats: Show off your culinary skills by baking homemade dog treats. There are countless recipes available online that use simple and wholesome ingredients such as peanut butter, pumpkin or sweet potatoes. Your dog will appreciate the extra effort and love you put into their treats. 

Fruit and vegetables: Many fruits and vegetables are safe and healthy for dogs to eat. Slice up some apples, carrots, or watermelon to offer as refreshing and nutritious snacks during the picnic. Just make sure to remove any seeds or pits, as they can be harmful to dogs. 

Frozen treats: On hot summer days, a frozen treat can be a real lifesaver for your dog. Fill a Kong toy with mashed bananas or plain yogurt and freeze it overnight. Your dog will have a blast trying to lick out the delicious filling while staying cool. 

Steer clear of doggy dangers like grapes, chocolate, onions, avocados and raisins. Instead, treat yourselves to these pet-approved goodies: 

  • Crunchy carrots and celery sticks 
  • Refreshing watermelon (no seeds or rind/skin though) and apple slices (no seeds or core) 
  • Tasty broccoli, cauliflower, pumpkin or sweet potato bites (make sure they’re cut into small enough chunks for your dog) 
  • Crisp cucumbers 
  • Strawberries 
  • Green beans. 

You can even bring along some of their usual dry dog food so they can enjoy their regular meal in a new environment. Remember to also pack plenty of their favourite prepared pet treats! 

If you’re unsure about the safety of a particular food item, consult with your veterinarian before including it in your dog’s picnic menu. 

Safety tips for dogs at a picnic 

While picnics are a great way to have fun with your dog, it’s important to prioritise their safety. Here are some essential safety tips to keep in mind during your dog-friendly picnic: 

  • Stay hydrated: Dogs can easily become dehydrated, especially in warm weather. Ensure they have access to fresh water throughout the picnic and offer them regular drink breaks. If you’re going on a longer hike or spending the day outdoors, consider bringing a portable water dispenser or a hydration pack designed for dogs. 
  • Protect from the sun: Just like humans, dogs can get sunburned and suffer from heatstroke. Provide shaded areas for your dog to rest and avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. If your dog has a short coat or is prone to sunburn, consider using pet-safe sunscreen on exposed areas, such as the nose or ears. If it’s a hot day, remember that the ground may be too hot for their paws! 
  • Watch out for hazards: Keep an eye out for potential hazards in the picnic area. Broken glass, sharp objects, or toxic plants can pose a danger to your dog. Scan the area before settling down. Bees, ants and other biting insects should be avoided as some may experience allergic reactions. Also, be mindful of snakes sunbaking on warm days and keep an eye on your pooch! 
  • Know your dog’s limits: Every dog is unique, and their physical abilities may vary. Be mindful of your dog’s energy levels and take regular breaks to prevent exhaustion. Avoid strenuous activities, especially during hot weather, and adapt the picnic to suit your dog’s age, breed and overall health. 

Fun activities to do with your dog at a picnic 

A dog-friendly picnic is not just about food and relaxation; it’s also an opportunity for you and your dog to get stuck into fun activities together. Here are some ideas to make your picnic extra enjoyable: 

  • Play fetch: Bring a ball or frisbee and play a game of fetch with your dog. 
  • Go for a nature walk: Take a leisurely stroll with your dog around the picnic area so they can explore the new scents and sights. 
  • Set up an obstacle course: Get creative and set up a mini obstacle course using picnic blankets, sticks or cones. Guide your dog through the course and reward them with treats for completing each challenge. 
  • Teach new tricks: Picnics offer a relaxed environment to teach your dog new tricks or commands. Use treats to make it a fun experience for them! 
  • Snuggle up together: Read a book or enjoy the sounds and smells of nature – any time together is quality time for both you and your dog! 

Dog-friendly picnic etiquette 

By following these etiquette tips, you can make sure it’s a fun day out for both you and your fellow picnickers. 

  • Leash your dog when required: If the picnic area has leash requirements, always respect and follow these rules. Even if your dog is well-behaved off-leash, other picnickers may have reservations with dogs. 
  • Clean up after your dog: Be responsible and clean up after your dog’s waste. Use poop bags to pick up any messes and dispose of them properly in designated bins. Leaving dog waste behind not only creates an unpleasant experience for others but also poses health risks. 
  • Respect personal space: Not everyone may be comfortable around dogs, so be mindful of other picnickers’ personal space. Keep your dog close to you and prevent them from approaching other picnickers or their food without permission. 
  • Control excessive barking: While dogs may naturally be more vocal during outdoor activities, it’s important to manage excessive barking. Check out these six ways to reduce excessive barking. Be attentive to your dog’s behaviour and address any excessive noise to avoid disturbing other picnic-goers. Excessive barking may be an indicator that your dog is uncomfortable, fearful or anxious in this setting so a changing up the location may make it more enjoyable for everyone. 

Dog-friendly picnic accessories and gear 

By investing in some accessories and gear, you can make your dog-friendly picnics even more enjoyable and convenient. Here are a few recommendations: 

  • Portable water dispenser: A portable water dispenser allows you to provide your dog with hydration on the go. Look for models that are lightweight, leak-proof and easy to clean. 
  • Collapsible dog bowls: Collapsible bowls are compact and convenient for picnics. They can easily fit in your bag and be expanded when needed. Look for durable and food-grade silicone bowls that are easy to clean. 
  • Dog backpack: If you’re planning a longer hike or a picnic that requires carrying extra supplies, a dog backpack can be a lifesaver. These backpacks allow your dog to carry their own water, treats or other essentials. Make sure to choose a backpack that fits comfortably and doesn’t restrict your dog’s movement. 
  • Portable dog bed: A portable dog bed provides a comfortable resting spot for your dog during the picnic. Look for lightweight and easy-to-clean options that can be rolled up or folded for easy transport. 

Bone Appetit! For more spring date ideas with your dog, check out: 

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