How to include your pets in the fall fun

My family’s favorite season is fall, mainly due to the weather. No mandatory suntan lotion, bug repellent and water bottle, but no coats, hats and gloves either.

If you also enjoy this time of year, don’t forget to include your furry family members in the fun.

Many of the activities we do in the summer and winter with Teddy, our 9-year-old Lab, are much more enjoyable in the fall. And I’m not just talking about walks through your neighborhood to get a glimpse of the color.

The Dayton Five Rivers Metroparks has more than 75 miles of natural ground trails where you can take a short, easy walk or a challenging 10‑mile hike along the rolling terrain. Dogs and cats are permitted in the parks if they are on a leash not more than 8 feet long. If you’re thinking of hitting one of the trails, check Five Rivers’ website for a complete list of rules so you and your pet can have a safe, enjoyable experience.

You could also visit a dog‑friendly pumpkin patch. If your dog is anything like Teddy, sniffing the pumpkins is always fun and gives me an opportunity to take some great Instagram photos.

Staying indoors? A Saturday or Sunday football day can be just the thing when it’s raining or too cold to venture out. Etsy has a multitude of bandanas to match your team’s jersey. And don’t forget the snacks. Teddy likes chips and pretzels, and so does his fearless leader, my husband Ed.

If you like to dress your pup up, pet costume contests are plentiful around Halloween. Our vet’s office has one every year. You can create a costume or purchase one, but make sure your furry pumpkin or Dracula is comfortable wearing it. Teddy dislikes costumes, although he will wear a bandana.

Or you could plan a sniffari. All you need is time. Your dog’s nose will do the rest. Take a leisurely walk in your backyard or neighborhood, letting your dog discover more of his world by what he smells. Teddy loves it when Ed slows down the pace of their daily walks and lets the dog’s nose guide their path. The paths around our Lake Michigan condo are some of Teddy’s top places for a sniffari. His favorite scent? Other dogs, of course.

My favorite thing to do in the fall is to take family pictures.

Fall is the perfect time to take photos during the “golden hour,” that time just before sunset or just after sunrise. You’ll get more even lighting and less harsh shadows, which makes it particularly flattering for human and animal portraits.

There are calculator apps to find the precise “golden hour” time, or you can be like me and wing it, focusing on the general period after sunrise and before sunset.

Finally, to get photos of Teddy looking his best, it’s important to be at his height. For that I hand the camera to Ed, who either kneels or lies down while taking the pictures.

Some of my best animal photos have occurred with Ed on the ground. He’s a good sport.

Karin Spicer is a member of The Dog Writers Association of America. She lives in Greene County with her family and two furry pets who inspire her. She can be reached at

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