Elisa Baxt recalls one of her first dog dates with her boyfriend; it was on a beautiful spring day, and she and Scott were having lunch at an outdoor cafe, eating salads, and sipping lemonade. Next to them was Elisa’s three-and-a-half-year-old chow-lab mix Cody, chewing on a special order carrot (raw and unpeeled).
“It was a great day,” Elisa said, “and Cody was a great icebreaker. Of course, now, she’s like our child. And we take her everywhere.”
The fact is bringing your dog with you on a date can not only lend to fun and adventure, but can also let you know if you share a love of dogs early on, experts say. It can also enhance romance. Just ask Lisa Saliture, who took her German shorthaired pointer out with a date and his dog early in their relationship.
“We walked on the beach and in the wooded areas,” she writes on associatedcontent.com, “and it gave me an instant feeling of romance and closeness with him. The dogs were running and playing, so they inspired us to let loose too.”
Whether it’s on concrete, grass, or sand, there are plenty of places to go with your dog and potential mate. Here are our top five picks:
1. The Park
According to a survey of 1,000-plus Match.com members, 70 percent say a walk in the park is one of their top great places for a first date.
“On my first date with Joel, we walked his dog Casey in the park,” said Felicia Roff in the site’s Happen Magazine. “It was a beautiful day. And Casey was insanely adorable.”
Beyond walking, a trip to the park offers a variety of activities that are suitable for both people and canines. That includes hiking, biking, picnicking, tossing a Frisbee, and even flying a kite.
There’s also the option of going to the “bark”—an enclosed park where dogs are free to run and play off leash. It’s a good place to let your dogs get to know one another while you and your date do the same.
2. An Eating Establishment
“We love to take Cody with us when we go to Starbucks,” Elisa said, adding that it’s something they’ve been doing since very early in their courtship.
Apparently, they’re not alone. According to the Match.com survey, 81 percent of members consider coffee houses a great first-date place. And 62 percent love to go out for brunch.
Coffee shops, restaurants, bars, and cafes are not just for humans anymore—especially as more places embrace the chance to host people and their canine companions. At the Millennium Hotel in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, for example, dog lovers and their four-legged friends can mingle with the like at “yappy hour.”
3. A Sporting Event
Another great date place is a sporting event. And while you can’t bring dogs to, say, the Superbowl or professional stadiums, you can bring them to your prospect’s softball game or volleyball match.
There’s also activities—like fly ball, a relay race for dogs, and agility training, in which dogs run through an obstacle course—that allow you and your partner to sit on the sidelines and watch proudly while your dog takes center stage. These are great ways to engage someone new not only in activity, but also in your dog-loving lifestyle.
4. The Flea Market
Weaving up and down the booths at an outdoor market can be a fun way to share the day with your date and dog, but only if the flea market allows for animals. An alternative is to window shop. Depending on where you go and how well your dog is trained, some stores will even let you bring your pet in with you.
5. The Beach
Finally, it’s no secret that, like people, many dogs love the beach. It’s a great place for all to enjoy the sand, sun, and surf (and to check out your date in beach clothes). But be forewarned, not all beaches allow dogs. Those that do often require you to abide by certain rules and times. Less stringent are doggie beaches, which allow dogs and their owners to romp in specially designated sections of a lake, ocean, or river.
Finally, most experts will tell you that where you go with your dog and your date is incidental to what you do when you get there. “Scott and I like to take Cody on a hike in the hills of a local park,” Elisa said. “When we get to the top, we stop to make out while Cody enjoys the nature. It’s very romantic. Still.”
Reviewed by Susan E. Aiello, DVM, ELS and John A. Bukowski, DVM, MPH, PhD
By Jill Sherer Murray for WebVet