IMG_1734 (2)With the weather drastically more tolerable in the last couple of weeks here in coastal New Hampshire and Southern Maine, many of your pups are probably feeling pretty good and wanting to stretch their legs outdoors.  Looking for fun ideas outside of your typical walks?  Consider some of these!

Downtown Stroll

There are so many wonderful downtown areas closeby: Portsmouth, Dover, and Portland to name a few.  Why not enjoy some window shopping and a cafe snack with your pup?  Broad streets, lots of socialization and training opportunities, and at least one pet boutique with staff ready to spoil your pup – many dogs will love the plethora of sights and smells.  Bring your poop bags, 4-6 foot leash (no retractables), and some treats.  Let your pup lead the way (while enforcing leash manners!).  By doing so, you may stumble on a new store you want to revisit or she may be telling you she needs a short break from the bustle and be on a quiet side street for a moment.  

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Pats and pizza go together for these sidewalk diners!

Backyard Fun

Want your pup to be the envy of the neighborhood dogs?  Build them something special for the yard, like a PVC agility course or digging box.  Building a set of weave poles or jumps to do a small agility run is physically engaging and a fantastic opportunity to build trust and communication skills between you and your dog.  Purchasing doggy playground equipment or repurposing a Little Tykes playset is a small gesture but adds features to an otherwise flat, bare backyard.  To add more fun, invite your pup’s doggy friends over for playdates!


Friends getting together, photo courtesy of River Rose Photography

Take a Hike

New England has a host of hiking opportunities that most dogs go wild for.  The interaction with their environment, being in a new place, the challenge of a difficult trail – hiking is incredibly beneficial to dogs and humans!  From locally managed lands like Mount Agamenticus in York and the Urban Forestry Center in Portsmouth, to more remote hiking in the Lakes and White Mountains regions, there is almost no end to the miles and terrain types available for exploration.  Regardless of where you hit the trail, be sure to have food, water, and first aid supplies for you and your pup.  For those willing to travel (or maybe have a leaf peeping day already scheduled!) some great starter hikes up north are Diana’s Baths outside of North Conway and Falls Pond from the Rocky Gorge Scenic Area on the famous Kancamagus.  Both are short, picturesque walks that will hopefully be inspirations to return for bigger adventures! * 


Dog Parks

This area has several fenced dog parks for social dogs to meet new friends.  They all feature a double gated entry to prevent runaways, though your pup should listen well enough to not cause trouble.  They should also have demonstrated enough sociability to expect they will not be aggressive or irretrievably fearful.  There’s a lot that goes into a positive dog park visit, especially the first few times and most of it has to do with planning and the humans.  For some tips, check out this advice from the Sacramento SPCA.  And everyone, even regulars, can benefit from an etiquette reminder like this  lighthearted piece from BarkPost.


photo courtesy of River Rose Photography

 *Sitter for your Critter staff member Krista has hiked extensively with her pups, both in the Portsmouth area and further north.  For tailored suggestions, she welcomes e-mail requests at