Whether you’re in search of the Great Pumpkin for your yard’s Halloween display or just some seasonal fun, a visit to a local pumpkin patch with your dog can be a great way to create special memories. Many pumpkin patches are open to the public and offer a variety of activities, some of which welcome your four-legged friends as well.
Before you and your dog head out for some pumpkin picking, here are a few tips to make sure your Halloween outing is a pure treat:
1. Only Bring Trained, Socialized Dogs
As with all pet travel, be sure your dog is trained and well-socialized before planning any outing with crowds and potential outdoor risks.
2. Call Before You Go
Take a moment and call the pumpkin patch before you and your dog hop in the car to find out if they are pet-friendly. Sometimes even when they are, hours and pet policies can change. If you’re in search of a quieter visit, a quick call will let you know if a school field trip is planned for the day as well.
3. Pack For Success
Take pet waste bags (and plan to use them) as well as water for you and your dog. You’ll be strolling farm fields so plan on taking water breaks; a pop-up water bowl will come in handy. Make sure your dog is wearing a collar with a current ID tag and use a fixed dog leash no longer than six feet to keep your dog nearby.
4. Take a Walk Beforehand
Go for a potty walk with your dog before heading out to the pumpkins. Don’t allow your dog to urinate on the pumpkins.
5. Watch for Mushrooms
Although most fields will be well tended, a rotting pumpkin can result in mushrooms growing in the field. Keep an eye out for mushrooms and, if your dog ingests one, be sure to photograph any remaining mushrooms and call your veterinarian.
6. Watch for Snakes, Too
Large pumpkin plants can provide a shady refuge for snakes which may or may not be venomous. Keep an eye out as you reach around the pumpkin or as your dog sniffs around the pumpkins.
7. Be Aware of Children
Pumpkin patches are extremely popular with families with children and, the more activities the location offers, the more children (sometimes in costume) that you can expect to see. Not all visitors will want to interact with dogs so keep your dog on a short leash.
8. Be Aware of Farm Chemicals
Unless you are visiting an organic farm, be aware that the farm may have used insecticides and pesticides in the fields and on the pumpkins. Since your dog is much closer to the ground and to these chemicals than you are, he is at greater risk from them. Keep him safe by watching for evidence of chemicals and, after your visit, washing his paws and any pumpkins you purchase.
9. Be Prepared For Farm Animals
Many pumpkin patches are working farms in every sense—complete with an assortment of farm animals. Our visit to a local pumpkin patch also included a visit with goats, pigs, and even a llama at the farm. Again, keep your dog on a short leash and exit the area if your dog becomes agitated.
10. Don’t Forget to Take Plenty of Photos!
Although your pumpkin may not last until Thanksgiving, the memories you make on your pumpkin patch visit will last a lifetime.
Authors of 30+ travel guidebooks, Paris Permenter and John Bigley write about tips for dog-loving travelers.