By almost any form of statistics, there are a large amount of dogs in Melbourne. So it follows that there are a lot of pet parents out there, many of whom feel less than great about leaving their pooch at home for long expanses of solitary time.
So here's a few suggestions of ways to spend time and have fun with your dog (and partner and kids) which include - but are not limited to - the daily walk.
Moonlight Cinema (an outdoor cinema in the Botanical Gardens running over Summer) is dog-friendly and also has special doggie nights and Gourmet Pawprints offers Doggy Winery Cinema. What more could you ask for?
Conditions apply so it's a good idea to check each organisation's website FAQ for things you need to know about taking your dog along.
A wide range of options of interesting places to walk your dog can be found at Parks Victoria, Australian Dog Lover and here at Weekend Notes. Also, check your local council website for a listing of the dog-friendly spaces in your area.
Need some motivation to get out walking? Consider some options for meeting up with other dog owners for walks and outings such as: Meetup and Dogtree.
Balls and frisbees are always great entertainment for your dog however if you'd like to take their sporting abilities to the next level you can try agility, dancing, flyball and more.
The health benefits of owning a dog are well known, from exercise, companionship, unconditional love, a feeling of safety and a greater connection with the wider community through to reportedly helping to prevent allergies in children. Here are a few holistic options for activities to share with your dog that could make the benefits even greater.
Yoga with your dog: "Doga"
This can take the form of humans helping dogs to perform yoga poses, or humans doing yoga accompanied by their dogs. This article explains how it works.
Meditating with your dog
Google "meditating with your dog" and you'll get an amazing three million results. Apparently it's good, very good in fact for both you and your dog. This article provides some ideas on getting started.
Blessings for your dog
Many churches in Australia observe the Feast of St Francis of Assisi on October 4 each year. Commemorating the life of St Francis, the patron saint of animals and the environment, it is a popular day for churches to open their doors for owners to bring their pets in to be "blessed". Some churches also have specific animal blessing services. Keep an eye out in your local media to find these events.
Volunteering with your dog
Want to share the wonderfulness of your dog with others and do some good at the same time? Did you know you can become a volunteer, with your dog, and visit places such as hospitals, nursing homes, mental health units, nursing homes, rehabilitation centres and children with special needs? It's called pet therapy. See the Delta Society, Lort Smith Animal Hospital and PAWS Pet Therapy to find out more about what's involved.
DOG SHOWS AND EVENTS
There are so many dog shows and events in Melbourne that we're spoilt for choice. Some are opportunities for dogs and their owners to have a day out, perhaps join walks to raise money for charity, watch and/or enter dog shows and trials, adoption days, training days, doggy retail therapy, pet expos, specialist working dog days, trivia nights, doggie dress up, photo shoot days and more. Some shows and events feature dogs, some are for dogs and humans and some only for the humans. Many of them are run to raise money for animal welfare.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The Dog House Café in Collingwood has a full menu including ice cream and takeway, these are the options are for your dog. For the humans there's a limited menu including juice and coffee - see their website for more details.
Everybody loves food trucks so to make sure our dogs don't miss out, there's now a food truck for dogs.
Gourmet pawprints offers doggy winery tours to such lovely venues as the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, Daylesford and the Dandenongs. They also do weekends away with your dog.
Quite a number of Melbourne cafes, bars and pubs are dog-friendly, see this listing and find even more here and here.